May 1st, 2017, BasicMed rolls out and for certain operations and certain pilots BasicMed promises a much more permissive and yet preventive oriented approach to medical approvals for pilots.

A concern is that one's physician may not issue BasicMed.

From AAFP's newsletter, where BasicMed was overviewed for Academy members (mostly Family Practice Physicians), I have extracted the following excerpts.

In an interview with AAFP News, Cowl stressed that physicians should understand FAA medical guidelines as they pertain to potential liability.

"There is the potential for liability to physicians, in part because the pilots most likely to use the alternative qualification pathway may be the very people who need the standard flight physical," said Cowl.


"At that altitude and type of airframe, these planes are sharing the airspace with paying commercial passengers. As physicians, we need to maximize the health of our patients and promote aviation safety," he said.

Simply put, "This comprehensive medical checklist is not a summer camp physical," said Cowl. Physicians should familiarize themselves with FAA guidelines, communicate with aviation medical examiners in their communities and understand the liability they take on when they put their medical license number on the FAA form.

Cowl acknowledged that some family physicians may already perform commercial truck and bus driver examinations that are similar in nature to pilot exams. For those physicians, a certain comfort level may already exist.

However, he added, "Physicians who do these exams need to be cognizant of the 'ask' -- and that is to perform a comprehensive exam and then sign an attestation statement that says, 'Based on my comprehensive exam, this person is safe to fly.'"

So I asked my non-pilot family practice doc whether he would be doing BasicMed exams. "Absolutely not. Truck drivers are one thing, but flying planes and the liability potential is too great for me to stomach."

I asked another FP doc, and she told me that she would avoid doing the exams, because as she understands them, they require a comprehensive physical that has higher complexity than other physicals she performs, and along with it there is an unknown liability potential, which is new to the risk market and she doesn't like being a guinea pig.

Then I talked with a former student of mine, who is an emergency medicine attending, and holds a Private Airplane-Instrument certificate. He has been tracking BasicMed, because it is relevant to him. He hauls his family around at vacation time in his Saratoga, and BasicMed meets his requirements. "Honestly, I will just see (my AME) and get a regular third class medical. I don't know anyone who wants to touch BasicMed if they are in private practice. If you get someone working for a hospital clinic, it might be different."

So my question is: Is there any preliminary data on the willingness of physicians to perform BasicMed exams, and in particular those who are not AMEs or pilots?

Addendum #1


An update article, after the start of BasicMed.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It's a good question, but considering that the checklist has only been available for a few days it's probably far too early to expect any actual data. If you skim a few forums you'll probably get the impression that there seem to be more doctors saying no than yes, but it could simply be that disappointed pilots just post more than satisfied ones. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Apr 28, 2017 at 1:54
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I just got back from my annual physical and my doctor did the BasicMed exam as part of it and signed me off without a problem. It was a total non-issue. I'm on a Special Issuance for an eye condition so this is going to save me a lot of hassle. $\endgroup$
    – Ian
    Apr 28, 2017 at 16:15

3 Answers 3


I tried going to my GP for a BasicMed exam, and he refused for liability reasons. I called several AMEs, who told me they won’t do it either, but the last referred me to a non-AME who happens to be a pilot. He signed me off that day with no issues.

I would suggest using local pilot groups on social media to find out what doctors in your area are known to do it, rather than being a guinea pig. That would have saved me a few weeks of frustration.


I have Kaiser insurance and tried really hard to get them to conduct my physical, to no avail. I was thwarted by some degree by the fact that my regular physician is not seeing patients right now, but my suspicion is that she may not have done it either. However, I have also heard of Kaiser members who did convince their physicians, so apparently there is some wiggle room. I ended up going to a clinic that does the DOT exam after asking if they would also do basic med - the doc turned out to be a pilot himself. Saved just a few buck compared to an AME.

As to why some folks would do basic med rather than a third class, at a certain age the third class is only good for a couple of years, while the basic med exam is good for five. That's why I elected to go with Basic Med. (I read recently that BM won't allow flight outside of the US, including Mexico or Canada, so that's something to keep in mind if you fly in those areas...)


My normal PCP performed mine, no problem, just like I’ve have for racing exams and sports physicals. Only my experience but nothing in the wording gave her any pause


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