Once upon a time, the world used paper. When applying for an FAA medical certificate, that meant filling out FAA form 8500-8 and presenting it to your AME at your flight physical. While using that paper form has fallen by the wayside,14 CFR part 68.7 still mandates its use.
MedXPress is the FAA’s online medical certificate application system. The output is still a PDF version of the 8500-8 (which you should keep), but MedXPress has eliminated the use of physical paper in the application process.
Except for printing your medical certificate, AMEs do not use paper either. Instead of requiring a physical copy of your application, your AME will need your MedXPress confirmation number. You will get that after successfully submitting your application online.
Your AME will use that confirmation number to import your medical certificate application into the Aerospace Medical Certification System (AMCS). AMCS allows AMEs to electronically complete their virtual portion of the 8500-8 and (hopefully) print your medical certificate.
The FAA’s intended goal with MedXPress is to get as much medical information about you as possible. They want to make an informed decision about your health as it relates to flying.
MedXPress asks some basic demographics. The next section asks what medications you take. Those are relatively straightforward. Most questions that pilots have about the medical certificate application process concern the section on medical conditions.
That section is actually straightforward as well. Most questions that come up have to do with closing the gap between what pilots want it to say and what it actually says very clearly.
At the very top of the “Medical History” section of MedXPress, the FAA asks, “Have you ever in your life been diagnosed with, had, or do you presently have any of the following?” They even ask the question in all caps to add emphasis.
There are 25 specific questions that follow, but question 18x deserves special mention. It asks about “Other illness, disability, or surgery.” Taken together with the introductory statement above, it should be obvious that the FAA asking, “Have you ever in your life had…[any] illness, disability, or surgery.”
That is not all. The section also has several general questions about other types of medically significant events, including:
Questions about driving history, drug and alcohol related arrests, and criminal history follow. Finally, you will round out your application by listing each medical visit you have attended in the preceding three years and authorizing the FAA to obtain your driving record from the National Driver Register.
The FAA could simply say “please tell us about your medical history and how you are doing,” but that wouldn’t get them much information. People tend to forget certain things. By asking for details on several different specific items they are more likely to jog the memory of the pilot filling out the form.
Asked about their medical history, many patients of mine neglect to mention hypertension, but they do remember they take a pill every day. Asking about medical history and current medications is more likely to get the full story. The FAA wants the full story. Your goal should be to tell a consistent one.
Here are some examples:
Inconsistency in your answers should spark questions from your AME. If everything ends up meeting the FAA requirements, then you can still get your medical. Your AME can update your answers prior to submitting everything to the FAA, but it is in your best interest to make their job easy.
By ensuring you tell a clear and consistent story on your MedXPress, you can expect a smoother process with your AME. Here are some tips:
Finally, if you decide that your submitted application needs major rework, there is a solution. Before your AME imports your exam to AMCS, MedXPress applications will be deleted after 60 days of inactivity. If you want to toss your virtual application in the virtual trash can, wait 60 days, and it will disappear forever.
That is not true after you share your confirmation number with an AME, so make sure your application says what you want it to say before you schedule your appointment.
If you want to do a trial run at MedXPress we have our own MedXPress Simulator. If you want more personalized advice, you can also schedule a free consultation by clicking on the “Free Consult” button that can be found on our website. Also read FAA Flight Physical – What You Need to Know Before you Fly