Real Answers from Real Pilots

Background checks question

I was curious what all background checks the FAA looks at when going for your 3ed class medical. I’ve been looking around and I’m seeing some very different answers being thrown around. I’ve seen you only need a driver record when going to an airline to you need your driver record when doing anything for you pilots license/career. I just want to have everything ready for when the time comes that I go to an AME. Also do they or do they not check your medical history when you go talk to your AME as well


When you go for your medical your required to fill out the questionnaire prior. If you pass the medical the AME will issue it on the spot and submit everything to the FAA. We live in the computer age and when I simply think any eating chicken carbonara a recipe pops up on my phone. If there’s something in your background either on your record or medically and you don’t disclose it in the questionnaire it will come back to bite you.


Third class medical is only for recreational and private pilots. For the airlines, and for ATP, you need a First class medical.

Background checks comes later. The FAA and airlines (or any large employer) will do a full criminal background check if/when you apply. The AME is just medical. But, they will ask about your complete medical history including any history of substance abuse and certain prescription medications.

I’m an older guy, with a couple of dings, so getting my medical is going to be a process. I’m reasonably sure that I’ll get a medical certificate when all is said and done. I’m also absolutely sure that if I’m not completely honest, and the AME doesn’t have all of my medical records there is no chance. If there’s something your worried about be completely honest and follow the process. If you leave anything out when (not if) they find out later they can pull all your certificates. Not just medical.

The FAA does not mess around with medical certificates.

It’s an area where the Pilot can receive the certificate with relative ease, but if caught in a lie or something changes, that pilot is at the complete bureaucratic mercy of the FAA.

Here is an example of pilots getting caught lying.

Sometimes AMEs lie too. Multiple AMEs were caught the other year taking cash for 5min Medical exams where they’d renew certificates with no testing.

The FAA has access to Federal databases including the DOJ, DOT, VA, SSA and many others. Don’t mess with them if something is on your record.

Chris F

When applying for a first class medical (the one you need for ATP) you will first fill out a questionnaire online asking basic medical history and a few background check questions… aka have you ever been arrested/convicted of a crime? You need to answer those truthfully or you can see what can happen from Chris’s post…
Then when you get to your appointment, that’s the full medical screening. They will check your hearing, vision, blood pressure, listen to your heart, ask you some questions, etc then you’ll be on your way if there aren’t any major issues.