View Full Version : 3rd class medical expiration question

Matt Gonitzke
08-23-2011, 05:15 PM
After not flying since 2008, I am finally going to be able to start again. My last 3rd class medical was issued in May 2007, shortly before the 3rd class medical was made valid for 60 months instead of 36 months for those of us under 40. Am I correct in assuming this is retroactive for medicals issued before the switch, and my medical is good until the end of May, 2012, and did not expire at the end of May 2010? A quick search of Part 61 didn't really help me determine an answer. I'd like to know for sure rather than assume.

Bill Campbell
08-23-2011, 09:50 PM
Not having seen your side of 40 for more than 20 years, I don't get the benefit of the 60 and didn't get the benefit of the 36 either. But I would caution you regarding the assumption of retroactivity, unless the regulation specifically states that the extension of time applies to all medical certificates valid on the date of effectiveness of the new regulation. If yes, The question then becomes was your medical current on the date of the change. If no, Then the answer is presume expiration in 2010. Remember it does not have to say retroactive, but it must apply to all medical certificates in force at the time of the change.

Bob Meder
08-24-2011, 05:22 AM
Here's a link from the Federal Air Surgeon on the topic (I got it from the FAA.GOV site by searching for "duration of medical certificates"):


See the portion titled "Previously Issued Certificates".

Matt Gonitzke
08-24-2011, 04:46 PM

My medical was roughly a year old when the rule was changed in 2008; if it was expired before the date of the change, it would still be expired now, regardless, as it has been more than two years since the change occurred.


Thanks for the link! I didn't expect to find such thing on the FAA website. I hadn't had good luck searching for things on there before. Anyway, looks like I'm set until May 2012 since my medical was current when the switch occurred.

08-27-2011, 09:03 AM
I wish the aviation alphabet groups would start pushing for doing away with the 3rd class medical and have similar rules as the Sport Pilot regulations. I don't understand their hesitancy to do so.

08-29-2011, 03:30 PM
I wish the aviation alphabet groups would start pushing for doing away with the 3rd class medical and have similar rules as the Sport Pilot regulations. I don't understand their hesitancy to do so.

I spoke with Phil Boyer formerly of AOPA at OSH (I think it was 2002) about that very topic. When my buddy asked him that very same question he looked at him and said (I am mildly paraphrasing), that "it" was no going to happen. AOPA had brought the topic up and was promptly shut down because of lack of statistics proving that the lack of a medical would not be an issue. That being said I would surely think that our groups are building the information needed. Sport pilot is the test. Will it be enough to remove the requirements for a third class medical? Probably not, as the third class allows too much leeway in what you can fly. Will it allow the expansion of Sport Pilot regs? Probably, just not in the near future. I for one do not see the corolation between a fixed and constant speed prop with regards to having a medical or not. I do see an issue between a J-3 and the complexity of say a Navajo on a night IFR to minimums. I am completely with you on this, I am a 6000 hour pilot typed in Citations, that can no longer obtain a medical without alot of hassle. I danced and (actually cried a little) the day I found out I could get back in a cockpit when sport pilot was passed. I have faith in those that represent us (not that they do not need some guidance from time to time) and I am optimistic that regs will be relaxed as time passes and more information comes available.

09-04-2011, 11:14 AM
I do not understand the desire to lower the standards for pilots, whether it be for experience or medical standards. We have gotten to the point that there are no standards for driving a car and you know the mess we have on our hi-ways. Lets not continually push to create an environment where the nut driving down the hi-way next to you is the same guys trying to enter the traffic pattern with you. I'm 62 years old and can pass a first class medical. Someday I know that will come to and end and I may have to fly Light Sport or maybe not at all but lets hang on to what has always set us pilots apart from the average Joe on the street, the little higher standard.

Eric Page
09-04-2011, 12:16 PM
...lets hang on to what has always set us pilots apart from the average Joe on the street, the little higher standard.

I don't think anyone is arguing for lower pilot certification standards. Your example of bad drivers is an issue of inadequate training and checking (skills incompetence), not unhealthy drivers (medical incompetence).

Medical self-certification has worked well for ultralights and gliders for many years, and now Sport Pilots are further proving its value at a pilot privilege level where it's appropriate. There will always be freak pilot incapacitation incidents. Continental had a Captain suffer a fatal incapacitation in flight a year or two ago, and he held a First Class medical. No reasonable amount of medical examination and testing will reduce this risk to zero. However, that's not an argument to do away with pilot medical exams.

When discussing medical certification, there are two fundamental questions to be answered: 1. What are the minimum standards of health and physiological function required to perform the duties of a Sport, Private, Commercial or Airline Transport Pilot? 2. What is an acceptable level of risk with regard to pilot incapacitation for a pilot at each level? A Sport Pilot flies only in good weather, during daylight hours, with no more than one passenger. A Private Pilot may fly at night, in IMC, with multiple passengers. Commercial and ATP certificate holders fly at night, in all weather, with paying passengers, all with the attendant high safety expectations. Is it an acceptable level of risk to let a pilot with no medical certification fly at night, in IMC, with passengers? I don't know. I don't think the FAA knows either, which is probably why they're taking baby steps.

With regard to pilot certification, the various PTS, with minor revisions from time to time, have served us well for many years. The only change that I've seen EAA and AOPA pushing for lately is to allow Sport Pilot instruction to count toward Private Pilot certification, a change that seems perfectly sensible to me. Either the FAA trusts Sport Pilot instructors to do it right, or they don't. If they don't, why are these instructors allowed to teach at all? If they do, why is their time wasted with respect to Private certification? The Private PTS requires some instrument and night training that Sport Pilot doesn't require, so additional training is obviously warranted. To make a Sport Pilot start over ab initio is silly; the basic flying skills are identical. Would making this change represent a reduction in standards for Private Pilot? Hardly. The same PTS still applies to that checkride; it's just a change to Part 61.

If anything, the FAA is trying to raise standards. Two examples are the vast expansion of Advanced Qualification Program (AQP) training at airlines and their recent (unannounced) changes to the written exam question banks. AQP is providing more realistic, line-oriented training for airline crews, with emphasis on real-world scenarios. The FAA knows full well that many pilots use weekend "cram schools" or online services that teach memorization techniques to prepare for written exams. Clearly, they would prefer that exam candidates actually learn the concepts behind the test questions, instead of memorizing the correct answer according to ASA, Gleim, Jeppesen or whoever. Other than hiding the question banks from public view, and changing them often, I don't know any way around this.

09-05-2011, 06:42 AM
I agree with Eric, I'm not for lowering pilot proficiency training for private pilots. I also don't think 20 hours (minimum) is adequate experience for a sport pilot who can carry a passenger, and fly almost anywhere they want to go. I have a Cessna172 and a Challenger II (LSA) and it takes just as much piloting skills to fly the Challenger as it does the 172. The lack of experience and poor decision making (which is usually a lack of experience or good training) causes probably 90% of all accidents, not medical problems with the pilot. Most 3rd class flight physicals as just a formality anyway - fill out the paperwork and you're good to go. I've been getting 3rd class flight physicals since 1983 and have only had a couple of good thorough physicals. (p.s. I get regular physicals through my primary physician because my insurance pays for them.) I just don't see a lot of difference between self-certification of medical fitness and the 3rd class medical. That's just my 2 cents and I'm all out of change so that's the last I will say.

09-05-2011, 04:40 PM
The issue is not what that better skills are needed to fly a Cherokee vs a Challenger. The issue is that I can fly a Navajo to minimums at night with a cabin full of people with a third class medical (Assuming the proper ratings). That does impose a higher skill requirement, increased risk and a much higher stress level. Should something go wrong there there is a substantially larger implications (I am not discounting the one additional body your LSA at all!). I whole-heartedly agree that a 172 and a Challenger from a workload standpoint and basic skills are (take it with a grain of salt) equivellent. My question becomes why for example the 1320lb weight limit? I can see limiting some items such as number of passengers for example. A C-150 is as simple as you can get, easy to fly, easy to maintain, slow enough (42kt+- stall speed) to be safe and fast enough (take that with a grain of salt again :-) ). Where does the 1600 lb gross impact anything?
FixedWing - You are correct the 3rd class medical for most people is more paperwork than physical - a formality - seems to me that for most if you walk into the exam room you pass - as long as you don't have a heart attack right there you are good to go
I also agree with you that Decision making is a far greater cause of accidents then medical reasons.

As I stated before I do not think the answer is no 3rd class medical, it will always be there for some folks (Instrument pilots for example), I see the answer in expanding the LSA envelope to allow simple single engine a/c of greater performance (the 172's and Cherokees of the world) than the current SP regs allow.

09-06-2011, 07:50 AM
wyoranch: In my opinion, you have come up with the ideal solution - increase the LSA weight to include simple single engine like the 172 and Cherokees. If the intent is to increase the pilot population, this would open up the field of available aircraft. Maybe even with the stipulation that it is daylight only to eliminate any dependence on instruments. It's also my opinion that the C150/152 class aircraft are easier to fly, i.e. safer, than most LSAs I've been around.

Bill Greenwood
09-06-2011, 12:50 PM
Daunager. I don't see the sense in what you are saying?
As i wrote above , from FAA/AOPA stats, about 99.5% of fatal accidents have no medical cause.
How does the fact that you can pass a first class medical affect this?
The two air charter pilots that flew the jet full of passengers into the ground at night in a snowstorm on the intrument approach into Aspen a few years back had the first class medicals.
The vast majority of auto accidents are young poeple, probably would have no trouble passing a medical exam; still doesn't make driving very safe.

09-26-2011, 08:50 AM
Faith in those who represent us is a powerfull thing! :)

11-15-2011, 04:36 PM
FYINovember 14, 2011 – EAA and AOPA have joined in developing a Frequently Asked Questions (http://eaaforums.org/Medical_certification_FAQ.pdf) sheet to answer the most common questions regarding the upcoming exemption request allowed expanded use of a driver’s license in lieu of third-class medical certification. The two organizations in September announced their intention to file the request with the FAA shortly after the first of the year.
The FAQ sheet also includes a link for EAA members and other to register for regular updates on this important issue for aviators.
To see previous story, click here (http://eaaforums.org/news/2011/2011-10-06_exemption.asp).