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I want to earn my sport pilot certificate; what are the medical requirements?

To operate as a sport pilot, you must have either a valid state drivers license or a valid FAA third-class medical certificate. In addition, Federal Aviation Regulation 61.53 requires every pilot, from sport pilot to airline transport pilot, to conclude before each flight that he or she is medically fit to operate the aircraft in a safe manner. As pilots, it is our responsibility to ensure that our current medical health in no way jeopardizes the safety of a flight. If your most recent medical has been denied, suspended, or revoked, see below What if Your Medical Has Been Denied?

I'm a private pilot. What are the medical requirements if I only exercise the privileges of a sport pilot?

To operate as a sport pilot, you must have either a valid state drivers license or a valid FAA third-class medical certificate. If your most recent medical has been denied, suspended, or revoked? see below What if your medical has been Denied?

What is meant by "valid" state driver's license?

Your state driver's license is valid as long as you comply with the laws of your state. Most states require you to stop driving and notify the state department of motor vehicles if you have a significant change in your health. The more common medical issues that require suspension of driving privileges are:

  • Vision changes
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Impairment of judgment
  • Loss of motor function
  • Seizures or blackouts

If you have experienced any one of the above, even temporarily, you need to verify with your state department of motor vehicles that your driver's license is still valid. In addition, you should consult with your family doctor about the advisability of piloting an aircraft. If your license is suspended or revoked due to traffic violations or alcohol/drug related convictions you cannot use your state drivers license to establish medical fitness and would have to possess a third-class medical certificate.

Common Sense

Common sense is the rule that Sport Pilots must follow. The FAA has granted Sport Pilots the opportunity to avoid the cost and inconvenience of obtaining and maintaining a FAA 3rd class medical. If we, as Sport Pilots, use common sense and listen to advice of our family, friends, and personal physician, we can ensure that medical issues do not compromise pilot and passenger safety and guarantee that this privilege is available for current and future Sport Pilots.

What if Your Medical Has Been Denied?

The sport pilot rule states that if an individual's most recent application for an FAA medical certificate has been denied, suspended, or revoked, that person may not use a driver's license as a medical certificate until the denial is cleared from the record. It is important that people understand the correct status of their FAA medical certificate. This provision affects only those who have received a denial, suspension, or revocation letter from the FAA. Individuals who have a denial or suspension on record can become eligible to use the driver's license medical by one of two means: Pursue a one-time third-class medical certificate. Many conditions causing denial in the past are no longer cause for denial. FAA is developing an alternative medical review procedure to streamline re-evaluation of candidates. EAA will continue to press for more and easier access to aviation for our members.

FAA Medical Standards, Protocols and Forms

Certificate Class Pilot Type First-Class Airline Transport Second-Class Commercial Third-Class Private
DISTANT VISION 20/20 or better in each eye separately, with or without correction. 20/40 or better in each eye separately, with or without correction.  
NEAR VISION 20/40 or better in each eye separately (Snellen equivalent), with or without correction, as measured at 16 inches.
INTERMEDIATE VISION 20/40 or better in each eye separately (Snellen equivalent), with or without correction at age 50 and over, as measured at 32 inches. No requirement.
COLOR VISION Ability to perceive those colors necessary for safe performance of airmenduties.
HEARING Demonstrate hearing of an average conversational voice in a quiet room, using both ears at 6 feet, with the back turned to the examiner or pass one of the audiometric tests below.
AUDIOLOGY Audiometric speech discrimination test: (Score at least 70% discrimination in one ear)
Pure tone audiometric test: Unaided, with thresholds no worse than:
                                             500Hz 1,000Hz 2,000Hz 3,000Hz
                      Better Ear         35Db     30Db     30Db     40Db
                      Worst Ear         35Db     50Db     50Db     60Db
EAR, NOSE, THROAT No ear disease or condition manifested by, or that may reasonably be expected to be manifested by, vertigo or a disturbance of speech or equilibrium.
BLOOD PRESSURE No specified values stated in the standards. 155/95 Maximum Allowed.
ELECTRO-CARDIOGRAM At age 35 & annually after age 40. Not routinely required.
MENTAL No diagnosis of psychosis, or bipolar disorder, or severe personality disorders.
SUBSTANCE DEPENDENCE & SUBSTANCE ABUSE A diagnosis or medical history of substance dependence is disqualifying unless there is established clinical evidence, satisfactory to the Federal Air Surgeon, of recovery, including sustained total abstinence from the substance(s) for not less than the preceding 2 years. A history of substance abuse within the preceding 2 years is disqualifying. Substance includes alcohol and other drugs (i.e., PCP, sedatives and hypnotics, anxiolytics, marijuana, cocaine, opiods, amphetamines, hallucinogens, and other psychoactive drugs or chemicals.)
DISQUALIFYING CONDITIONS Airman with these conditions may still be eligible for "Special Issuance" of a medical certificate. Examiner must disqualify if the applicant has a history of: (1) Diabetes mellitus requiring hypoglycemic medications; (2) Angina pectoris; (3) Coronary heart disease that has been treated or, if untreated, that has been symptomatic of clinically significant; (4) Myocardial infarction; (5) Cardiac valve replacement; (6) Permanent cardiac pacemaker; (7) Heart replacement; (8) Psychosis; (9) Bipolar disease; (10) Personality disorder that is severe enough to have repeatedly manifested itself by overt acts; (11) Substance dependence; (12) Substance abuse; (13) Epilepsy; (14) Disturbance of consciousness without satisfactory explanation of cause; and (15) Transient loss of control of nervous system function(s) without satisfactory explanation of cause.