Jak Sie Masz Kochanie? and BasicMed

A great deal of effort was expended pursuing an alternative to third class medical certification, and the resulting regulations known as BasicMed that you have been hearing so much about went into effect May 1.

Third Class medical reform is, in my opinion, the chance to progress to something better, and also why this article has a Polish title. Pronounced "yahk shay mahsh Ko-han-ye," it means “How are you darling?,” and is also the title of a song recorded in 2001 by The Boys, a group from Poland, and probably one of the worst disco records I have ever heard. However, the song got me thinking about third class medical reform because it encourages us to ask ourselves, “jak siÄ™ masz kochanie?”

Given the far-reaching implications of BasicMed, it is not a bad idea to restate the criteria here. One must:

Comply with the general BasicMed requirements (possess a U.S. driver's license and comply with all restrictions; have held a regular or special issuance FAA medical any time after July 14, 2006; and most recent medical not withdrawn, suspended at any time, or revoked, most recent medical application not denied, or most recent authorization for special issuance withdrawn);
Get a physical exam with any state-licensed physician following the FAA’s Comprehensive Medical Examination Checklist every 48 months;
Complete an online BasicMed medical education course every 24 months;
Then, go fly!

A review of the requirements for aircraft that can be flown under BasicMed, as well as the operating limitations that apply to flights under these rules, is available on the AOPA Pilot Protection Services website.

There are three broad categories of medical conditions that require pilots to receive a one-time special issuance from an AME before operating under BasicMed and, appropriate to note during mental health month, the first are certain personality or bipolar disorders, psychoses, and substance abuse issues. Additionally, some neurologic diseases fall into this category. Cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death for Americans, and the most frequent source of questions to AOPA, is also considered under this category. A full explanation of the conditions requiring a one-time special issuance is available through AOPA's Fit to Fly resources.

In addition to providing an FAA-approved BasicMed online education course that educates pilots about health and wellness, AOPA also has set out to provide guidance to physicians about performing BasicMed exams, and other Fit to Fly resources.

There are four stages of preparedness: mitigation of risk, true preparedness, response, and then recovery. The same thinking can be applied to disease, but most people—men especially—are in perpetual denial and therefore have to deal with response and recovery. Not just recovery from the illness, but the FAA regulatory consequences. With BasicMed, pilots can now be in control of their health as it relates to flying. Many pilots struggle to comprehend that clinical medicine, what individual doctors do for their individual patients, is not the same as regulatory medicine, how a body like the FAA looks at health issues.

Born a Londoner, I always enjoy hearing “Mind the Gap” on the underground railway; station announcers remind travelers to avoid the gap between train and platform, because gaps can be dangerous. I am imploring my fellow aviators to perform a gap analysis, a term beloved by management types where one compares actual with potential or desired performance. As noted, gaps can be dangerous. Gaps in your knowledge, gaps in your actions. For example, failing to keep your weight in balance, failing to keep an eye on your blood pressure. Or eyes. Gaps in basic aircraft maintenance are daft; so are gaps in basic pilot maintenance.

So, if BasicMed is for you, get your exam and BasicMed checklist completed, take the online education course, earn your certificate of competition, study the materials, and make changes in your life to avoid those unpleasant diseases that can shorten your flying life and shorten your life. Much better to dance and laugh to stay healthy. And to spend many more evenings with wonderful people.

Jonathan Sackier
Dr. Jonathan Sackier is an expert in aviation medical concerns and helps members with their needs through AOPA Pilot Protection Services.

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