Helpful Links:  FAA Physicals for Private Pilots

DCs to Perform FAA Physicals for Private Pilots

On April 24, 2017, a new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical exam became available to licensed private pilots. The new program allows private pilots to obtain a BasicMed medical exam in lieu of a 3rd Class Medical Certificate provided by an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME). Providers are not required to become FAA “certified” to provide the BasicMed exam, however they must meet certain requirements.

The BasicMed exam can be performed by an AME or by a physician licensed by a state medical board. That language seemed to apply only to medical and osteopathic doctors. However, on July 14, TeamCME received FAA confirmation that DCs are Specialty Physicians when considered as “Chiropractic Physicians” by their state chiropractic licensing board. To be able to participate as a BasicMed provider, the state chiropractic scope of practice must also include the ability to perform the components of the BasicMed exam.

TeamCME is suggesting that DCs not perform the BasicMed physical until their state licensing board has clarified the board’s position on physician status and scope of practice. State chiropractic licensing boards are being contacted by the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards with information on how to proceed. As state licensing boards take action, TeamCME will be providing updates to the FAA and the Aircraft Owners Pilots Association (AOPA).

There are at least 31 state boards that allow DCs to use the phrase “chiropractic physician.” They are listed below. Performing physical exams similar to the BasicMed is included in the chiropractic scope of practice in 47 states.

For comparative purposes, the BasicMed physical exam is slightly less comprehensive than the commercial driver physical. However, the protocol to determine the fly/no fly decision is significantly different. Even those who are certified in the National Registry to perform CDL physicals will need limited preliminary training to get this right. Those not authorized to perform CDL physicals will likely need significantly more training.

There are tens of thousands of private pilots who are opting to obtain the BasicMed flight physical, and there are many reports of difficulty finding a provider willing to perform it. The FAA medical program is considered by many to be the gold standard. This significant opportunity has the potential to affect other federal physical exam programs that currently exclude DCs.

States where “chiropractic physician” is acceptable:  Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia

State chiropractic scope of practice that allows physical exams:  All states except: New York, Washington, Michigan

Learn about CDL physicals: