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February 1, 2017

BasicMed, Flying Without a Medical

By Bill Gunn 2/1/2017

As most of you know by now, the FAA has published the final rule for no 3rd class medical flight in certain aircraft under certain circumstances. Briefly, this is for FAR Part 91 flights not for compensation or hire in GA aircraft up to 6000 pounds gross weight.

Day, night, VFR, IFR, up to 18000 feet, maximum of 6 persons on board, and only in the USA. The FAA has created a new FAR part 68 to cover what is called BasicMed. Advisory Circular 68-1, dated 1/9/2017 is available and explains how BasicMed will work. Find AC 68-1 at www.faa.gov. The rule goes into effect on May 1, 2017. With any change such as this a lot of questions will arise and will require the FAA to interpret the rules as to meaning.

If you have held a valid FAA medical, special issuance included, since July 15, 2006 forward you may not need another medical. Note that a pilot could have taken a 3rd class medical as much as 5 years prior to 8/15/2006 and fall within the window. You then must currently hold a valid US driver’s license, have a one-time assessment by a doctor (not necessarily an AME) called a comprehensive medical examination checklist, and complete an on-line medical education course, including consent to permit access to the National Driver Register. If you have a condition that affects your ability to act as a required crewmember you must remain under the care of that doctor.

There are important points within the BasicMed process. If you have mental health, neurological, or cardiovascular issues then you may need to be evaluated by a state licensed doctor and you might not then qualify for BasicMed privileges. If you held a valid medical in the past that was revoked and later re-instated you will need a one-time medical before you may fly under BasicMed guidelines. New student pilots need a one -time medical. BasicMed does not change the rules for sport pilots or any pilot flying light sport aircraft under light sport guidelines. Medication that are prohibited by the FAA for active pilots remain and the rule of FAR 61.53 remains – if you know or have reason to know you should not fly as a required crew member, you may not do so under BasicMed. Perhaps the most subtle of the requirements under BasicMed is you may only ACT as PIC

There are two definitions for Pilot In Command (PIC) in the FARs. Acting as PIC means you are responsible for the safety of the flight - captain of the aircraft. Logging PIC means you are the sole manipulator of the controls or monitoring the autopilot (if engaged). Only one person may act as PIC; more than one may log PIC in certain circumstances. If you are flying alone, you perform both PIC duties. If two pilots in the same aircraft are both operating under BasicMed rules only one pilot may be a required crew member as he / she must also act as PIC. The other pilot is a passenger on that flight. This means two BasicMed pilots may not fly simulated instruments with one under the hood and one acting as the safety pilot – they are both required crew members but only one may act as PIC. CFIs may instruct (and be paid) under BasicMed however the rated or student pilot receiving instruction would have to have a medical to be legal – remember; only one person may act as PC in the aircraft.

On a happier note, the BasicMed rules do not prohibit furtherance of a business, so a business pilot may fly him / herself for their work under BasicMed holding to the same limits as if they had a medical.

Fly safely………

Bill Gunn is the former Director for Systems and Training for the Texas Department of Transportation, Aviation Division. He retired from TxDOT Aviation in August, 2016. Bill is an Airline Transport Pilot, Flight Instructor, Airman's Certificate Review Authority and an FAA Safety Councilor. He has approximately 7000 flying hours in a wide variety of military and civil business, corporate, and general aviation areas. Bill is a current aircraft owner (Vans RV7) and flies regularly for work and pleasure. TXAA is proud to have Bill as an advisor to our board of directors.

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