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Student Pilot, Third Class Medical Expired, Special Issuance
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Answered By AOPA
So I've kind of hit the perfect storm of things all at once:
  • My flight school closed down due to COVID and I haven't heard news from them that they're back yet.
  • My third class medical expired in November
  • I have a special issuance due to some medications I'm on
  • I just had knee surgery so I don't consider myself fit to fly at the moment anyway, even if I were to get my flight physical.
Now with all this, would it be OK to get a new medical once my flight school opens back up and/or I've recovered enough from my knee surgery that I consider myself fit to fly? I'm no longer taking any pain killers, but even just driving my car is currently a bit of a challenge and probably will be for at least several more weeks.

If I understand how in general the FAA handles expirations of certificates and such, if I were to get a new medical in, say, January 2021, it would only be valid until November 2022, or two years after my original certificate expired based on my age. Am I correct here?

If it helps, I have kept up with sending all related paperwork concerning my special issuance to the FAA on time, so at least that bit is covered.

Thanks!
4 Replies
Votes
AOPA Staff Answer
Hi Luis,

In addition to renewing your Special Issuance, you will also need to notify the knee surgery you had performed. In the Authorization for Special issuance letter there is a section that states if the pilot has had any changes to their health status and/or changes to medications, the pilot must report these changes to the FAA. 

One of the benefits of your AOPA membership is to discuss what documentation you will need to provide when you report this change to the FAA. At your earliest convenience please call the AOPA Medical Certification department to discuss this further. 1-800-872-2672 #3
Votes
1230 Posts
Luis Arruda:
Now with all this, would it be OK to get a new medical once my flight school opens back up and/or I've recovered enough from my knee surgery that I consider myself fit to fly?
 
Absolutely yes. And you don't have to wait for the flight school to reopen, either.  You can do it as soon as you meet the FAA requirements for the class of certificate for which you apply.  Of course, if you have any doubts whatsoever, discuss this with the AME before you submit your application on MedXPress.
 
Luis Arruda:
If I understand how in general the FAA handles expirations of certificates and such, if I were to get a new medical in, say, January 2021, it would only be valid until November 2022, or two years after my original certificate expired based on my age. Am I correct here?
No. Your new medical will expire based on the date of examination on the medical. If you're under 40 the day you take that exam, your Third Class will be good for 60 calendar months (5 years) from that exam date. If you're 40 or older, it's 24 calendar months (2 years) from the date of the exam. The date of your last medical is irrelevant to this discussion. The only other limitation might come from your SI, but that will be written in the SI letter you have and if it's not "standard", that will be stated in the limitation block of the new medical certificate (my Second Class has a 1-year limit for all classes due to my SI).
Votes
1230 Posts
Vampiress At AOPA:

In addition to renewing your Special Issuance, you will also need to notify the knee surgery you had performed. In the Authorization for Special issuance letter there is a section that states if the pilot has had any changes to their health status and/or changes to medications, the pilot must report these changes to the FAA
 

Is reporting that knee surgery in Block 18 of his medical application sufficient?

Votes
That is a great question Ron. The pilot would indeed need to check Box 18x, however the FAA will request documentation that pertains to the surgery and the pilots recovery. This would include specific hospital and/or surgery records as well as treatment records and a current status report.