FAA Class 3 medical good for international PPL flight?
Votes
Open
Here's what I hope is a bit of misinformation.

I have had an FAA PPL for the past ten years or so. I do not live in the US and fly my own US registered airplane in the Eastern Caribbean.

After the great COVID medical and flight review disaster, I have now found a way to get my medical on one of the islands in the region (easier and safer than visiting the US pre-vaccine).

Now here is the odd thing - I have flown for the past ten years with an FAA Class 3 medical - including some flights down from the US.

I am being told that for international flights a Class 3 medical is not now (and maybe never was) good for flights outside the USA and that I should get a Class 2.

My flights are all VFR private flights in my own airplane - can anyone point me at the rule that says Class 3 is no good.

I am aware that some jurisdictions do not have three classes but only 2 (Barbados in the Eastern Caribbean is one - they have never given me an issue) in particular EASA, so if ramp checked in a Dutch or French island (this suggestion is coming from a French island) they will expect to see a Class 2??? That said I was checked in Guadeloupe a couple of years back without any issue. 

So a question for someone with definitive answer am I good for a Class 3 or do I need a Class 2 - I am not a comm. pilot so I think it is good as a PPL medical for two years?
3 Replies
Votes
1069 Posts
Eric Butcher:

Thinking I will go for a Class 2 if I can get it - if not I'll take the Class 3 - the thing that bothers me is the thing only lasting a year - getting my medicals due to the need to travel has cost me more than getting my PPL - so two years is better than one - as I understand it Class 2 for the first year and Class 3 after that.
I'm not sure what you're saying. If you get a Second Class, it's good for 12 calendar months as a Second Class, and then 12 more as a Third Class. Since you're exercising only Private privileges, it really doesn't matter to the FAA which way you go -- they'll both be good for your Private flying in an N-reg airplane for 24 calendar months.
Eric Butcher:
The info came from an FAA CFI on St Barths where I do my flight reviews - rather different doing landing on their dodgy runway.
Ask that CFI to show you where it says your FAA Third Class medical isn't sufficient for exercising Private privileges under your FAA Private Pilot airman certificate in an FAA N-reg airplane -- in Barbados or anywhere else.
Eric Butcher:
I do think it is the confusion over the Classes in different countries e.g. here is Barbados Class 1, 2 and 3 - their Class 3 is what ATC staff need - so it can be a little confusing.
Unless Barbados has some local regulation which explicitly excludes FAA Third Class medicals (theoretically possible, but most unlikely unless Barbados secedes from ICAO), the Barbados rules have no regulatory effect on pilots with ICAO-recognized FAA pilot/medical certificates flying FAA-registered airplanes.  Part of being in ICAO means recognizing all airman and aircraft certifications which meet ICAO standards (which FAA pilot, medical, and Standard airworthiness certificates do).

Of course, some FAA pilot certificates like Sport and Recreational do not meet ICAO standards, and can't be used outside the USA without the host nation's approval.  Same for flying on a drivers license or Basic Med in lieu of an FAA medical certificate.  For example, Bahamas and Canada (and maybe Mexico -- it was still under discussion last I knew) recognize Sport Pilot but nobody else does.  Likewise, Canada doesn't recognize Basic Med while we don't recognize Canada's Class 4 medical (the Canadians are holding out for a quid pro quo on that, but the FAA so far isn't wiling to trade).  But that's not your situation.
Votes
Hello

Thanks for the info - that is what I thought - Class 3 is good.

Thinking I will go for a Class 2 if I can get it - if not I'll take the Class 3 - the thing that bothers me is the thing only lasting a year - getting my medicals due to the need to travel has cost me more than getting my PPL - so two years is better than one - as I understand it Class 2 for the first year and Class 3 after that.

The info came from an FAA CFI on St Barths where I do my flight reviews - rather different doing landing on their dodgy runway.

I do think it is the confusion over the Classes in different countries e.g. here is Barbados Class 1, 2 and 3 - their Class 3 is what ATC staff need - so it can be a little confusing.

 
Votes
1069 Posts
As far as the FAA is concerned, your Third Class medical is good for the exercise of Private Pilot privileges in an N-reg airplane anywhere in the world.  See 14 CFR 61.1, 61.3(c), and 61.23(a).  If someone is telling you otherwise, I suggest you ask them to show you the regulation which says otherwise.  Of course, if you were flying an aircraft of non-US registration outside the US, the rules of the country of registry would come into play, whatever those might be, but since you're flying an N-reg plane, the FAA rules are as I said.

As for how long your medical certificate is good for Third Class requirements, that would depend on your age on the date of examination and any other limitations on the certificate, and it would be the same whether you got a Third or Second.  For example, my Second Class medical obtained at age 40+ would normally be good for 24 months for Private privileges and 12 months for Commercial privileges.  However, due to my Special Issuance, mine also says "Not valid for any class after [12 calendar months from the exam date]" so I can't exercise even Private privileges on the basis of that certificate after that 12-month limit.