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Normal air ambulance flights in medical emergency situations use a callsign consisting of the word "MEDEVAC" followed by the registration number excluding the prefix (e.g. N912MF is "MEDEVAC Niner One Two Mike Foxtrot").

What if a private pilot is using his/her plane, which is not normally used as an air ambulance, to fly a passenger to the nearest hospital in a medical emergency? Can (s)he use "MEDEVAC 123AB" if the plane is N123AB?

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    $\begingroup$ I have some FAA advisory circulars still open in a tab from when this question was originally asked. Keep meaning to synthesize them into an answer. $\endgroup$
    – randomhead
    May 24, 2023 at 22:51

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From the AIM 4-2-4:

MEDEVAC flights may include:

(a) Civilian air ambulance flights responding to medical emergencies (e.g., first call to an accident scene, carrying patients, organ donors, organs, or other urgently needed lifesaving medical material).

(b) Air carrier and air taxi flights responding to medical emergencies. The nature of these medical emergency flights usually concerns the transportation of urgently needed lifesaving medical materials or vital organs, but can include inflight medical emergencies. It is imperative that the company/pilot determine, by the nature/urgency of the specific medical cargo, if priority ATC assistance is required.

FAA Order 7110.65AA (the main document that tells ATC what to do) also identifies MEDEVAC aircraft as air ambulances:

Treat air ambulance flights as follows:

  1. Provide priority handling to civil air ambulance flights when the pilot, in radio transmissions, verbally identifies the flight by stating “MEDEVAC” followed by the FAA authorized call sign or the full civil registration letters/numbers. Good judgment must be used in each situation to facilitate the most expeditious movement of a MEDEVAC aircraft.

Or, alternatively, as air taxis/carriers:

The letter “L” is not to be used for air carrier/air taxi MEDEVAC aircraft.

As you are not an air ambulance or an air taxi/carrier, MEDEVAC is not intended for you and is potentially confusing. It's pointless anyway- if you have a medical emergency requiring priority handling, just say that! You'll get the priority handling and you won't confuse ATC into thinking you're an ambulance.

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  • $\begingroup$ Your answer is better than my old one, deleting. $\endgroup$ May 25, 2023 at 3:15
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For a patient who is not an immediate danger of life or some other serious medical emergency, and is just being transported to a hospital for some kind of routine treatment, no, I don’t think that using a callsign like MEDEVAC is appropriate to that flight. If you did have a life-threatening emergency aboard the airplane, it would just simply be far easier to contact ATC and declare an emergency to get priority for that. Now, there are charity organizations, like Angel Flight West, who transport patients to and from hospitals using general aviation aircraft. This organization apparently has obtained special permission from the FAA to use the callsign ANGEL FLIGHT and any participating pilot may use this callsign only on flights transporting patients.

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