Medical certification of U.S. airmen officially began with the Air Commerce Act of 1926, mandating that all pilots be medically qualified to fly. Disqualifying for any class of medical certificate were disease and conditions that could cause sudden incapacitation or death, or could otherwise compromise aviation safety.
Since that time, aeromedical research has discovered, validated, and codified information about the physiological aspects of safe flight. The U.S. aviation system has the safest record of any mode of passenger transportation in the nation, but continued effort is required to preserve that record. Major challenges to aviation safety include revolutionary changes in aviation technology, human error, and intense physical demands.
To function safely in today's complex airspace, it is imperative that all air crewmembers be medically qualified to perform their duties. For this reason, the aviation medical examiner is a key element in the aviation safety formula.
If you are interested in aviation, look into the rewards of being associated with this vital industry. Your patients will be pilots, air traffic controllers, and other aviation professionals, all of whom must be pysically qualified to perform in the aviation environment. Mostly, you will perform routine physical examinations. As an aviation medical examiner, your skills contribute to the public's need for a safe, efficient air transportation system.
What is an Aviation Medical Examiner and how does one become designated?
Under the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 (as amended), the FAA Administrator is authorized to delegate to qualified private physicians the conduct of medical examinations and the issuance of medical certificates to qualified applicants. Aviation Medical Examiners (AMEs) are private physicians, trained and authorized by the FAA to perform airman medical examinations and to issue medical certificates.
New AMEs are designated based upon the local demand for aeromedcial certification services. Demand is determined by considering the total number of airmen in a particular location in relation to the number of available AMEs. The FAA has approximately 5,400 civilian AME's located in 9 regions, 350 international AMEs located in 81 countries, and 500 federal AMEs (military, U.S. Coast Guard, NASA, and other agencies). These AMEs perform approximately 480,000 medical examinations every year in fulfilling the aeromedical certification needs of about 17,000 air traffic controllers and 640,000 pilots in the U.S and abroad.
The current distribution of civilian and international AMEs by speciality indicates that:
  • 56% are engaged in Family Practice,
  • 19% in Internal Medicine,
  • 7% in General Surgery,
  • 4% in Aviation Medicine,
  • 3% in Ophthalmology,
  • 1% in Psychiatry, and
  • 10% in other medical specialties.
Aviation Medical Examiners are a key element in the medical certification process, ensuring that airmen meet the medical standards prescribed in the Federal Aviation Regulations and are medically fit to perform safety-related duties. AMEs play a vital role in the FAA Office of Aviation Medicine's goal to promote aviation safety through excellence in aeromedical certification of airmen. Although most of the duties performed by AMEs are governed by Federal Regulations and Orders (directives), AMEs are not Federal employees.
Professional Requirements
AME applicants must hold a current valid medical license as an MD or DO (with no restrictions or limitations) issued by the state licensing authority in the location where they intend to perform medical examinations for the FAA. Applicants are required to provide references from three local physicians, or an official statement from their respective state licensing authorities regarding professional standing in the medical community. Applicants must be engaged in the practice of clinical medicine at an established office address that is available to the general public. Applicants must have a properly equipped office (required equipment lists can be obtained from the local Regional Flight Surgeon's office) to conduct FAA medical examinations.
Special consideration may be given to applicants who have been military flight surgeons, who have training or expertise in aviation medicine, or those who have been previously designated (and maintained adequate performance as an AME) but moved to a different geographical location. Upon initial designation, AMEs are authorized to perform Class II and Class III physicals only. In order to obtain authorization to perform Class I (Air Transport Pilots) physicals, AMEs must first perform Class II and III physicals for a period of at least 3 years.
What are the FAA training requirements to become an AME?
FAA Order 8520.2E, entitled Aviation Medical Examiner System, describes the policies and procedures for the designation of AMEs. As a requirement for designation, an AME applicant must first complete a 4 1/2-day Basic AME Seminar and Medical Certification Standards and Procedures training, and a staff member from his/her office must complete Medical Certification Standards and Procedures training. The Basic AME seminars (which currently include a workshop) are conducted four times a year at the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Attendance at a seminar and a workshop has the following objectives:
The Aeromedical Education Division of CAMI has designated the Basic AME Seminar as a continuing medical education (CME) activity that is valid for 32.5 credit hours in Category I of the Physician's Recognition Award of the American Medical Association. The FAA does not charge a fee for those attending the Basic AME Seminar and Workshop. However, applicants must pay all personal expenses (travel, accommodations, and meals) associated with their training.
What are the FAA training requirements to maintain AME designation?
To maintain designation, an AME is required to attend a 2 1/2-day Theme AME Seminar every three years. An AME's staff member must complete Medical Certification Standards Procedures training prior to the physician's designation as an AME, and every three years thereafter.
CAMI's Aeromedical Education Division conducts these seminars at many locations across the country. The seminars are intended to keep AMEs and their office staff up-to-date on the FAA medical certification process, and provide a review of the latest medical and technical information and clinical examination techniques applicable to airman medical certification.
An additional goal of these seminars is to help improve AMEs' proficiency in their regular medical practice, as well as to assist them in achieving 100 percent accuracy in the completion of the Application for Airman Medical Certificate (FAA Form 8500-8).
The Aeromedical Education Division has designated this Theme AME Seminar as a CME activity that is valid for 26 credit hours in Category I of the Physician's Recognition Award of the American Medical Association. The FAA does not charge a fee for attending the Theme AME Seminar. However, AMEs and their staffs must pay all personal expenses (travel, accommodations, and meals) associated with their training.
What does an AME charge for an FAA physical examination?
The FAA has not established a fee schedule. It is expected, however, that the fees charged by an AME will be commensurate with fees charged for similar services in the locality of practice.
What are the medical-legal implications of being an AME?
AMEs are not federal employees and are not entitled to protection under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Nevertheless, if a medical-legal problem arises, an AME can obtain FAA legal advice and counsel. Regional Flight Surgeons are able to directly assist AMEs on medical certification issues where legality is a concern. If further assistance is needed, a regional FAA attorney is available to AMEs for legal counsel. Should the case or issue require an AME to be individually represented by an attorney, the AME is required to provide his/her own attorney (non-FAA) for that purpose. However, if an AME adheres to FAA's policies and procedures regarding medical certification of airmen, there is little potential for personal involvment in litigation.
What are some other activities available to AMEs besides peforming physical examinations?
Some AMEs act as consultants to the FAA in their medical specialties, such as cardiology, ophthamology, otolaryngology, neurology, and psychiatry and participate in the review of medical certification case that might qualify for special issuance of a medical certificate (e.g., pilots who have had coronary artery bypass surgery). Other AMEs are involved in giving lectures on medical subjects and providing clinical demonstrations on examination techniques at AME seminars. Still others participate in FAA aviation safety seminars for pilots, delivering presentations on aeromedical issues that have an impact on aviation safety.
Some AMEs are called upon to assist in the investigation of fatal general aviation accidents. Other AMEs act as consultants to determine whether acutely ill and incapacitated patients can be safely transported by air.
Who should be contacted to obtain more information about becoming an AME?
First contact should be with the FAA Regional Flight Surgeon's Office in the area of the country where the AME applicant practices medicine. A complete list of states, regions, telephone numbers, and mailing addresses, as well as the names of current regional flight surgeons is provided below, after the seminar schedule.
For additional general information, please contact:



January 14-16

West Palm Beach, FL



March 20-24

Oklahoma City, OK



April 28-30

Washington, DC



May 15-18

Houston, TX



June 12-16

Oklahoma City, OK



July 7-9

Chicago, IL



August 7-11

Oklahoma City, OK



September 8-10

Reno, NV



  1. A 4½ day AME seminar focused on preparing physicians to be designated as Aviation Medical Examiners. Contact your Regional Flight Surgeon.
  2. A 2½ day AME theme seminar consisting of 12 hours of AME specific subjects plus 8 hours of subjects related to a designated theme. Registration must be made through AME Programs in Oklahoma City. Call (405) 954-4830 or 4258.
  3. A 3½ day AME seminar held in conjunction with the Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA). Registration must be made through AsMA. Call (703) 739-2240.

N/NP/P Neurology/Neuropsychology/Psychiatry Theme Seminar
CARDIO Cardiology Theme
AP/HF Aviation Physiology/Human Factors
O/O/E Ophthalmology/Otolaryngology/Endocrinology



Robert W. Rigg, M.D.
Federal Aviation Administration
222 West 7th Avenue #14
Anchorage, Alaska 99513-7587
(907) 271-5431, FAX (907) 276-0250

Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska

Joel A. Dickmann, D.O.
Federal Aviation Administration
Medical Division, ACE-300
DOT Headquarters Building
901 Locust Street, Room 350
Kansas City, Missouri 64106-2641
(816) 329-3250, FAX (816) 329-3266

Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia

Nicholas M. Lomangino, M.D.
Federal Aviation Administration
Fitzgerald Federal Building #111
John F. Kennedy International Airport
Jamaica, New York 11430-1590
(718) 553-1152, FAX (718) 995-3109

Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin

Paul L. Brattain, M.D.
Federal Aviation Administration
2300 East Devon
Des Plaines, Illinois 60018-4686
(708) 294-7491, FAX (708) 294-7808

Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont

Paul H. Clark, M.D.
Federal Aviation Administration
12 New England Executive Park
Burlington, Massachusetts 01803-5299
(781) 238-7300, FAX (781) 238-7306

Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming

Michael D. Jones, M.D.
Federal Aviation Administration
1601 Lind Avenue, S.W.
Renton, Washington 98055-4056
(425) 227-2300, FAX (425) 227-1300

Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina,
Tennessee, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

David P. Millett, M.D.
Federal Aviation Administration
P.O. Box 20636
Atlanta, Georgia 30320-0636
(404) 305-6150, FAX (404) 305-6161

Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas

G.J. Salazar, M.D.
Federal Aviation Administration
2601 Meacham Boulevard
Fort Worth, Texas 76193-0300
(817) 222-5300, FAX (817) 222-5965

Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, American Samoa, Guam, Marshall Islands, Wake Island

Stephen H. Goodman, M.D.
Federal Aviation Administration
Aviation Medical Division
P.O. Box 92007, Worldway Postal Center
Los Angeles, California 90009-2007
(310) 725-3750, FAX (310) 536-8650

Federal: Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, NASA, Public Health and Others

Melchor J. Antuñano, M.D.
Federal Aviation Administration
P.O. Box 25082
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73125-9944
(405) 954-4832, FAX (405) 954-8016