As of October 1, 2012, the FAA no longer allows the use of the paper version of 8500-8, which is the application for medical certification. Only on-line applications are now allowed, and this is called MedXpress. Although some pilots think this is “Big Brother” stuff, it is actually the same database that has been used for many years. The only difference now is that the applicant can now input his or her information and not rely on the AME’s staff to do so (correctly) after the paper version had been filled out. This streamlines the process, significantly decreases input errors, and increases efficiency.
All you need is an Internet connection, an email address, set up an account with a password, and you can fill out the FAA Form 8500-8 in the convenience of your own home. In order for the AME to pull up your file, you will need to provide the confirmation code once the application has been submitted. To prevent delays in our office, we request that you do this before you arrive for your flight physical, although we do have a computer terminal in the waiting room for those folks who were not able to do so in advance.
One great advantage of MedXpress is that if the application is not acted on (in other words the AME does not open the file) then it will be deleted from the database in 60 days. That means that you will not be penalized for filling out the application if it turns out that you are not really ready yet for your flight physical due to medical issues that have not yet been resolved. In the past, once you put pen to paper, the AME was obligated to send the form in even if not completed, potentially jeopardizing the applicant who may have applied prematurely.
For every great new procedure there is always a down side or two. The biggest one is if the Internet is down (which happens rarely) or the MedXpress site is down for maintenance (which happens occasionally on weekends) during your AME appointment. In such cases, since the FAA no longer allows the AME to type up the medical certificate on the earlier card version, the pilot will not be able to walk out the door with the certificate. However, we have contingency plans for such events in that we will take all the application information, perform the flight physical, and then as soon as the site is back up and running, finish it off using the confirmation number, and print the certificate. Since it is now printed on standard paper, we can then mail or fax the certificate, or have it waiting for the pilot to pick up.
The second problem can happen when a pilot loses or destroys his certificate. Before MedXpress was mandatory, we would type a new one up and give to the pilot as a replacement, if he or she needed it faster than could be provided by contacting the FAA and having a new one sent in the mail. Now we can no longer do that. We are therefore doing our best to make copies of the certificate at the time of issuance and keep that copy in the pilot’s chart for such a contingency. Otherwise the only option is for the pilot to contact the FAA and request a new one to be sent. Please click on this link to request a new medical certificate directly from the FAA:
That and $2.00 will get you a new certificate in the mail.