After years of petitioning the FAA to ease access to airman medicals, AOPA was successful in getting BasicMed passed in 2017, and now the association says more than 50,000 pilots have taken advantage of the program. That’s a not-insignificant percentage of the 600,000 certificated pilots in the U.S., but one that AOPA expects to grow as the pilot population continues to age.
Designed to replace the Third Class medical for many non-commercial pilots, BasicMed requires only an exam by a participating physician, and expires after a generous 48 months, though pilots must complete an online exam every 24 months. (Of course, this is the FAA here, so the medical expires after four years on the exact date, while the quiz expires at the end of the 24th calendar month.) Pilots on BasicMed can fly single- or twin-engine aircraft with six or fewer seats that weigh 6000 pounds or less (max gross weight) and cruise 250 knots or less, up to 18,000 feet MSL.