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FAA report validates safety of BasicMed for private pilots



aopaFREDERICK, Md., March 27, 2023 – A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) report mandated by Congress determined that the BasicMed program is safe.

The FAA reviewed data over a three-year period for the report (“Effects of Regulatory Changes to Medical Certification for Certain Small Aircraft Pilots”), dated March 10, 2023.

BasicMed was the result of a dedicated effort by AOPA and key allies in Congress to bring about much-needed third-class medical reform. Nearly 80,000 pilots have qualified to fly under BasicMed since it was enacted in 2017.

“The FAA’s report to Congress confirms what we have known for years: BasicMed works and BasicMed pilots remain safe pilots,” said AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker. “We have just gone through the safest three to four years in general aviation history. The FAA recently expanded the BasicMed program to include safety pilots; nations such as Mexico, The Bahamas, and other Caribbean countries accept U.S. pilots flying with BasicMed; and I strongly believe the program will continue to grow and expand.”

The study team included representatives from the FAA’s Flight Standards Service, the Office of Aerospace Medicine, and the Office of Accident Investigation and Prevention, and found no differences in safety when comparing BasicMed to the longstanding third-class medical that general aviation pilots are required to obtain for a private pilot’s license.

According to the report, “No difference was found in the risk of BasicMed and third-class airmen having an aviation accident from the start of BasicMed in 2017 through the end of 2019. No difference was found between accident involved BasicMed and third-class airmen in the phase of flight in which their accident occurred. No difference was found between accident involved BasicMed and third-class airmen in fatal versus non-fatal outcomes. No difference was found between fatally injured BasicMed and third-class airmen in autopsy findings.”

The number of individuals holding a private or student pilot certificate in the United States has climbed from 584,000 in 2016 to nearly 757,000 today, a 30 percent increase. According to the FAA, private pilots account for more than 26 million safe flying hours annually, which represents more than 30 million takeoffs and landings each year.

According to the FAA report, the total number of aircraft hours flown by pilots under BasicMed increased from over 15 million in 2017, the year FAA implemented BasicMed, to over 16 million in 2019

AOPA’s Air Safety Institute has reported that the overall GA accident rate, based on National Transportation Safety Board data, including BasicMed pilots, is at its lowest level in decades, and continuing to drop every year since the 1990s. The general aviation community has never had a stronger focus on safety, and the U.S. airspace continues to be the safest in the world.

Pilots using BasicMed must successfully complete an FAA approved online medical education course every other year while they are flying.

AOPA houses many of the resources pilots need to better understand the requirements of BasicMed (aopa.org/basicmed), including those to determine eligibility, the medical exam checklist that needs to be reviewed by a pilot and physician, a BasicMed physician finder, an online medical education course, and instructions on how to file the application.

AOPA’s website also provides aviators with engaging and informative videos about BasicMed, as well as helpful FAQs for pilots and physicians. The online course and educational materials cover such topics as health self-assessment, when to see a doctor, conditions that may require a closer look, and how to use diet and exercise to stay sharp for the flight deck and in life.