Home » BasicMed vs. Class 3 Pilot Certifications Compared

BasicMed vs. Class 3 Pilot Certifications Compared

Posted By Benjamin Peterson

Published May 24, 2023

Several health conditions can make flying unsafe, and this is a significant safety concern. As a result, the aviation body requires pilots to undergo medical tests to determine if they are eligible to fly. 

There are several classes of certification, but recreational and private pilots initially fell under the class 3 medicals. But in recent years, precisely in 2016, the U.S. Congress created an alternative to the class 3 medicals, which is called BasicMed. What are these privileges, and how do they differ? 

What is BasicMed? 

BasicMed originated from the U.S congress legislation on July 15, 2016. The BasicMed relief is an alternative to class 3 medicals, allowing licensed pilots to fly as Pilot-in-Command (PIC) without holding an FAA medical certificate.

What is Class 3?

On the other hand, Class 3 medical is for students, recreational, or private pilots flying for pleasure or personal business. But it excludes pilots in this category who are flying for compensation. Typically, you need a medical certificate issued by an AME (Aviation Medical Examiner) to fly under third-class privileges. 

Differences Between BasicMed and Class 3 Medicals

Below are the main differences between the more recent Basicmed privileges and the class 3 medicals: 

Privilege Duration 

Pilots flying under BasicMed must complete the approved medical self-assessment every two years. Also, they must undergo a physical medical exam with a state-licensed physician every 48 months (4 years). This applies to both young and old pilots. 

But, for pilots flying under class 3 medicals, the duration is 24 calendar months, on or before the date of examination, if the pilot is 40 or over. If the pilot is under 40, the third-class certificate duration is 60 months. Hence, you need to take the exam every 24 or 60 months. 


The requirements for both privileges also differ. For BasicMed, you need general requirements like a valid U.S. driver’s license. Additionally, you must have held one medical certificate after July 15, 2006. 

You must also take a medical self-assessment course from Mayo Clinic or AOPA. And unlike class 3 certification, you don’t need to be examined by an AME. You can meet any state-licensed physician for examination, the Comprehensive Medical Examination Checklist (CMEC) form. 

Class 3 medical has a different requirement. First, you must get an eye exam from an ophthalmologist to check for eye problems and disease. You also need to take a hearing test. For your exams, you will get physically examined by an AME licensed by the FAA


Generally, BasicMed has more restrictions than class 3 medicals. First, only PICs can fly under BasicMed, while required crew members can also fly under Class 3. Other restrictions under BasicMed are: 

  • Not more than five passengers 
  • Maximum take-off weight of 6,000 pounds 
  • The maximum certified altitude of 18,000 feet MSL. 
  • Maximum airspeed of 250 knots. 
  • Flight must be within U.S. territories. 

Insurance Premium

After BasicMed was introduced in 2017, many airmen were worried their hull & liability insurance premiums would go up. But, most insurance companies have maintained the status quo for pilots transitioning from class 3 medicals to BasicMed. 

However, some pilots have complained of higher insurance premiums as opposed to the popular claim of no increase. They claim that they were charged twice the cost of insurance coverage under class 3 medicals. This increase could be because of the exemption of medicals and older pilots. They also consider the risk of possible worsened medical conditions. 

One way insurers combat this danger of insuring older pilots is through a yearly annual medical and EKG. Since the FAA increased the privilege duration to 4 years for pilots over 40 under BasicMed, it means more risk for insurance companies. So, an annual medical and EKG will ensure their health is in check more often than the FAA recommended. 

Some insurance companies may also require yearly medicals to also apply for Class 3 privileges because health issues may crop up in the 2nd year of an older pilot’s privilege duration. If yearly medicals are not an option for your BasicMed insurance, you may consider proposing it to your insurers to negotiate a premium reduction. Generally, conditions differ from one company to another, so you should consult your insurance provider to know if it’s best to transition from class 3 to BasicMed. 

Benjamin Peterson

Graduated from the University of North Dakota with a degree in Commercial Aviation as a Pilot and Flight Instructor. My first professional job was working for Cirrus Aircraft as an instructor.

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