What is an AME, or Aviation Medical Examiner?
An FAA Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) serves the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the flying community by medically certifying pilots. Each pilot is required to meet specific medical standards depending on the class of medical certificate for which the pilot applies. The FAA Regional Flight Surgeon (RFS) in your area is responsible for determining the current need for AMEs in their region. Only FAA Senior AMEs can issue first-class medical certificates.
Types of Exams
Applicants under 40 usually have to undergo the most basic, third-class medical exam. This entails checking your blood pressure, and eyesight, including your peripheral vision, nearsightedness, farsightedness, and color vision. The examiner will also perform a hearing test to determine if you’re able to hear at the most basic level.
Prior to doing a general physical, the examiner will also go over the following:
- Active or Prior Health issues
- Surgeries you’ve had in the past
- Previous doctor visits
- Drug and Alcohol concerns
- Aeromedical impacting VA Disability Benefits
- Overall mental health wellbeing.
Some of the medical requirements (for example, vision and hearing standards) are different for first- and second-class medical certificates, but overall the exam for each class is pretty similar. First-class medical exams must be done more frequently and require the applicant to have an electrocardiogram (ECG) done annually if over age 40 after the initial ECG done at age 35.
At the end of the exam, the medical examiner has three choices: He or she can approve the application and issue the signed medical certificate to the applicant at the time of the visit, deny it or defer it to the FAA for further processing.