Monday, February 20, 2012

Paper Forms for Flight Physicals to Disappear October 1

The FAA medical application Form 8500-8 will be eliminated by October 1, 2012, and MedXPress will be used exclusively for medical certificates.

January 30, 2012 – The traditional paper forms completed by many pilots prior to their airman medical exams will completely vanish by October 1, as the FAA moves exclusively to its MedXPress online system for these applications (officially known as FAA Form 8500-8).

Federal Air Surgeon Dr. Fred Tilton reported the change in the Federal Air Surgeon's Medical Bulletin on January 27. He explained that the MedXPress system debuted in 2007, but it was not required to be used by pilots and Aviation Medical Examiners (AMEs). Dr. Tilton said that "the paper system allows for too many errors, leads to storage problems, and creates security risks" as reasoning for discontinuing the paper forms. In addition, FAA would save an estimated $150,000 per year by eliminating the paper forms.

Many AMEs already use the MedXPress system exclusively for pilots who apply or renew their medical certification. The change is that all pilots who apply for medical certification or simply have their regular flight physical after October 1 will be required to use the online system.

"EAA supports wise use of FAA funds and more efficient technology, but there are many questions that remain as to this change," said Sean Elliott, EAA vice president of industry and regulatory affairs. "EAA is most notably concerned that a lack of education by the FAA to both pilots and AMEs will lead to confusion. We are willing to do our part to communicate these changes and educate pilots, but it must be an effort by all involved."

In addition, EAA and its Aeromedical Council are seeking solutions and clarification in other areas that may raise concerns among some pilots, including:

  • Unfamiliarity with online technology
  • Worries about online security and access
  • Those AMEs who do fewer medical exams each year may be unfamiliar with the specifics of the online process
  • Point in time where the online application becomes “official,” when the applicant can no longer withdraw the application
  • "EAA has resources that can help pilots who are not yet familiar with the MedXPress system, which is already used by tens of thousands of pilots each year," Elliott said. "We are exploring other local resources, such as EAA chapters, flight instructors and schools, and others who can help educate and assist those who may not have used the MedXPress in the past."

To access the FAA MedXPress website, click here.

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