The FAA's new BasicMed rule went into effect May 1, but since its introduction in July 2016, it has created quite a stir in the aviation industry. Still not sure what the buzz is about? We'll break down five basic facts you need to know about BasicMed, helping you sort out the mystery behind this new rule handed down by Congress.
Five Basics On Basic Med
1. Not For Newbies
In order to qualify under BasicMed, you must have held a medical after July 14, 2006. This means that if you have never held a medical certificate, including many new student pilots, you cannot qualify for BasicMed until you have held a medical certificate issued by an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME).
2. Gimme Three Steps
There are three steps to take before you can fly under BasicMed. First, you must possess a valid U.S. drivers' license and have held a medical after July 14, 2006. Second, you must print out the comprehensive medical examination checklist from the FAA website and have your doctor complete the form during your next physical exam. Your doctor must be a state licensed physician. Finally, you must complete a BasicMed medical education course online via the FAA website. Keep in mind, this is only if you choose to fly under BasicMed; you're still welcome to renew your medical with an AME as per usual, without completing the above process.
3. Keep It Small, Slow, and Low
If you are planning to fly a heavy with about a dozen or so of your closest friends, BasicMed is not for you. There is a passenger limit of five people, a weight limit of 6,000 pounds, a speed limit of 250 knots, and an altitude limit of 18,000 feet MSL to which you must adhere if you choose to fly under BasicMed. Employed CFIs, commercial pilots, and charter pilots, you cannot use BasicMed, as it is not for those flying for compensation or hire.
4. Some Limitations Apply
When BasicMed was just a rumor, there were concerns that those with existing health conditions preventing a medical renewal would suddenly become eligible to fly again. BasicMed addresses this concern by requiring a special limitation before you can apply for BasicMed if your medical history contains certain mental health disorders, neurological disorders, and cardiovascular conditions.
5. Subject To Change
Provided you qualify under the rules stated above, you can circumvent the traditional third class medical exam and have your health insurance plan pay for your exam, since it's conducted by your general practitioner. However, industry insiders worry that general practitioners will not want to assume the liability of a pilot experiencing a mid-air medical emergency and therefore balk at BasicMed. As with any new rule, keep in mind that some adjustments are sure to come as time passes.
For more information and complete details on BasicMed, visit the FAA's BasicMed page