The FAA Thursday issued notice that it intends to discontinue the paper application form used to apply for FAA medical certification. The agency will on Oct. 1, 2012, switch to its online FAA Form 8500-8 application, otherwise known as "FAA MedXpress." That virtual form was introduced in 2007 and "has evolved considerably, streamlining FAA medical certification into a much more efficient and seamless process," says the FAA. Within that framing, the paper form many pilots are used to has been deemed redundant and obsolete, and it will be going away this fall.
Right now, you don't need to make any changes. If you'd like to get a jump on things, the online from is fully operational and ready for use, now; the paper forms go away on Oct. 1. If you haven't already tried the online form, that's the marker after which you (and the more than 400,000 other airmen the FAA says fill out one of these forms each year) will have to start using it. The FAA says the change was prompted by the complex and burdensome costs, logistics, and resources needed to revise, reprint and redistribute the forms worldwide. The agency believes doing that online is simply more efficient. Click here for the official DOT release.