Banner image

Flight physical exam (FAA Air Medical Exam)

To confirm you are in stable physical and mental health, a flight physical is performed by a doctor who is approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Learn more

About the flight physical exam

The testing done during your flight examination will depend on the type of certificate for which you’re applying. For example, a first class license requires a more extensive exam than a third-class license.

A third-class examination for a person aged 40 or younger typically includes a:

  • basic hearing test 
  • blood pressure check
  • urine test
  • vision test – screening for peripheral vision, nearsightedness, farsightedness and color
  • health history – medications, recent surgeries and mental health status

First class medical exams also require a yearly electrocardiogram (ECG) for people over age 40.

After the exam

At the end of the exam, the medical examiner can:

  • approve your application
  • deny your application
  • defer your application to the FAA for further processing.

If you are denied your application, you may be eligible for a special issuance medical certificate after completing an FAA deferment process. This could happen if you are on a medication that is not acceptable for flight reasons, but a different drug is. Or if you were ill or had a recent medical procedure that impacted your exam, you could be approved after being symptom-free for a certain period of time.

Source: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
Reviewed by: Mark Valgemae

First published: 1/23/2017
Last reviewed: 1/23/2017