1st Class Medical Questions

I just started my application online at the FAA’s website for getting my 1st Class Medical Exam. I wish ATP could have given a rough estimate on the price of this even though I know it varies based on the doctor and clinic. I’m now in the process of calling up my local town’s clinic to make an appointment.

Can your health insurance pay for this, or will I have to pay out of my pocket? I briefly looked up a rough price online and have seen a 1st class medical certificate can cost up to $200!

Even if I don’t end up going straight to ATP next year, such as getting my private elsewhere, or possibly even join the military instead, is it still useful to have a 1st class medical, and how long do these things last before they expire? Basically should I even be concerning myself with this before even being sure i’m actually going to ATP?

Thomas,

The price of a First Class medical can vary greatly depending on where you’re located (same for examiner fees). In ATP’s defense they can’t possibly answer EVERY question on their website (one of the reason’s they created this forum). No insurance company I know of will pay for your medical since it’s not a necessary medical expense nor does it offer any health benefit. Btw the $200 price tag is usually only if the First Class requires an EKG which is only required if you’re over 35. In your case it should be considerably less.

Provided you’re under 40yo, First Class medicals are valid for 12 mos and then revert to a Second Class for the next 12 mos and after that to a Third Class for 60mos.

If you don’t go to ATP most flight schools only require a Third Class medical which again is considerably less money. The reason ATP requires it AND the reason it’s a really good idea is because it would be very sad if you spent tens of thousands of dollars and years training and then afterwards found out for some reason you can’t obtain a First Class medical and will be unable to ever become an airline pilot. If you’re in good health, have no medical conditions, good vision (incl color) and hearing I’d say you can wait but again at some point I’d want to be certain.

Adam

2 Likes

Thomas,

To second Adam, if you are in good health with no past medical history I would hold off on getting the medical until I was closer to making a choice about your future path. I would certainly get one before starting flight training, but I wouldn’t be rushing to do it now.

Chris

You mentioned that the 1st class medical lasts a year, so are Pilots constantly having to pay out of their pockets to get it renewed annually?
For example, my medical is going to cost $194 with the MedExpress form partially filled out before, which won’t take place till March.
I forgot how hard it is to make an appointment sometimes with a doctor, and this is the only clinic in my town that does 1st Class Medicals.

Yes, it is a recurring expense. Almost any professional job that I can think of has recurring expenses, this is actually pretty inexpensive by many standards. Other than my medical and renewing my CFI certificate biannually (which is optional) I pay nothing out of pocket for recurrent training. Contrast this to an attorney who must take additional college classes or a Veterinarian who must go to annual conferences and it is a good deal.

Tom,

Actually it gets worse, after age 40 the First Class is only valid for 6mos! FOs can let them lapse to a Second Class but if you fly as an RO (Relief Officer) you need to maintain a First Class. The good news is its tax deductible as a work expense :slight_smile:

Adam

That’s pretty expensive! Where do you live? I pay $100 for the 1st class.

I believe some companies compensate you for the medical. I get $75 per exam from SkyWest, so that pretty much takes care of it. (I can handle $25 once a year)

Yarden

Yeah,

I actually decided to book a different appointment out in Milwaukee that’s more available and cheaper ($110). And I don’t know why I didn’t see it before in the FAA’s directory, but there are plenty of other clinics in my hometown of Madison that do First Class Medicals for Pilots, so hopefully I can book yet another appointment with one of them depending on how expensive they are.

Tom,

Both the FAA (https://www.faa.gov/pilots/amelocator/) and the AOPA (https://www.aopa.org/login/?method=loginrequired you need to create an acct) have AME finders which should help.

Adam

1 Like

[quote=“Adam, post:3, topic:2235, full:true”]
Thomas,

The price of a First Class medical can vary greatly depending on where you’re located (same for examiner fees). In ATP’s defense they can’t possibly answer EVERY question on their website (one of the reason’s they created this forum). No insurance company I know of will pay for your medical since it’s not a necessary medical expense nor does it offer any health benefit. Btw the $200 price tag is usually only if the First Class requires an EKG which is only required if you’re over 35. In your case it should be considerably less.

Provided you’re under 40yo, First Class medicals are valid for 12 mos and then revert to a Second Class for the next 12 mos and after that to a Third Class for 60mos.

If you don’t go to ATP most flight schools only require a Third Class medical which again is considerably less money. The reason ATP requires it AND the reason it’s a really good idea is because it would be very sad if you spent tens of thousands of dollars and years training and then afterwards found out for some reason you can’t obtain a First Class medical and will be unable to ever become an airline pilot. If you’re in good health, have no medical conditions, good vision (incl color) and hearing I’d say you can wait but again at some point I’d want to be certain.

Adam
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Hi Adam , I have a general question about airlines requirements for 1st and 2nd class medicals. I know to be PIC a 1st class is mandatory , however to be SIC will a 2nd class do ? Will an airline ever hire anyone to be a first officer and never a captain ? I hold a 2nd class with a waiver for color vision that is good for night flying ( passed light gun test many years ago ) but not for color signal control during daytime ( radio failure to controlled field ) . I’ve done my research on the subject about FAA testing and not really willing to risk losing my 2nd class in pursuit of higher . I’m at 825 hrs , a CFI and love flying and wish I could get employed with an airline if possible ? Thanks , Andrew

Hey Andrew,

Most regionals, if not all, require a 1st class medical to be hired, exactly because they are not hiring pilots to be eternal FOs. But you can definitely get hired at a charter company (part 135) and still fly jets as an FO.

Yarden

Andrew,

Unfortunately I have to second Yarden on this one. As far as I know possessing a First Class medical is a requirement at every 121 airline. BUT, that being said this really is a different world we’re living in. The Regionals are making all kinds of concessions to try and fill pilot slots. While the normal expectation is for all FO’s to eventually upgrade they do need pilots. I’m not trying to get your hopes up but if it were me I’d contact some of the Regionals recruitment depts. directly. Worse they can say is no?

Adam

Thanks both of you for your insights , I’ve done a little bit charter and know when I get to 1,200 more doors open up . I’ll contact the recruiting department and ask , you never know ? Happy flying to both of you !

I think I know the answer to this question I just wanted to run this by with you guys to be sure, i’m looking a a Part 61 Private Pilot’s license flight school next week, they don’t require a First Class Medical, but do require a Third Class.

I’m getting a first Class regardless because i’m planning on going to ATP eventually rather than the Air Force as I curiously was looking into. Logically i’m assuming that having a 1st rather than a 3rd will be more than enough for this flight school?

Yes, a first class meets all the requirements of a second a third class. Make sure to tell the Medical Examiner that you are also applying for a student pilot certificate.

Let us know what you think of the flight school.

Thomas,

Absolutely. You only need a Third Class to do flight training, anything above trumps that so yes you can always have more. The only reason again ATP requires a First Class is they want to be certain you’re not wasting a lot of time and money only to find out you have some condition that will prevent you from reaching the airlines.

My buddy Chris hasn’t been a student for a while but you no longer need to get your Student Pilot cert from your AME. You now get it directly from the FAA but you will need the help of your instructor as he/she has to verify your info. I’m sure your flight school will walk you through the process.

Adam

Adam,

Thanks for the correction :slight_smile:

Hate to be THAT guy… But $200 doesn’t seem that “expensive”… Is there cheaper? Sure. But its a class A med, it is what it is!

Nick,

It’s all relative and it really isn’t “is what it is”. Again it can vary considerably from area to area and paying $200 for something that can be had for half simply based on your zip code can be frustrating.

Btw it’s a First Class not a Class A.

Adam

Sorry, for Phx that seems reasonable.