A second class medical certificate allows you to exercise second-in-command privileges of an airline transport license and privileges associated with a commercial pilot license.

A second class medical certificate is good for 12 months at which point, if not renewed, it will only allow a pilot to exercise privileges associated with a third class medical certificate.

How Long is a Second Class Medical Good For?

A second class medical certificate is good for:

  • 12 months for operations requiring a second-class medical certificate and/or
  • 24 months for operations requiring a third-class medical certificate, and/or
  • 60 months for operations requiring a third-class medical certificate if the pilot is 40 or younger on or before the date of examination.

What Happens When Your Second Class Medical Expires?

When your second class medical certificate expires, you will not be able to exercise the privileges associated with the certificate.

In other words, without a valid second class medical certificate, you will not be able to fly as a commercial pilot, and will only be allowed to exercise third class flying privileges.

What Happens If You Fail Your Second Class Medical?

If you fail your second class medical exam, the first thing you should do is find out why you failed.

Sometimes the reason for failing a medical exam can easily be solved through medication, or perhaps a little longer through nutrition and exercise.

If you fail your second class medical exam, you can no longer fly commercial, though a special issuance may be issued that will allow you to exercise the privileges associated with a second class medical certificate.

If you fail your second class medical exam and no special issuance is granted, you can still be granted a third class medical certificate, as long as the qualifications for the certificate are met.

Second Class Medical Certificate Requirements

Vision

  • Distant Vision: Distant vision must be correctable to 20/20 or better in each eye
  • Near Vision: Near vision must be correctable to 20/40 or better in each eye, as measured at 16 inches
  • Intermediate Vision: If aged 50 or over, intermediate vision must be correctable to 20/40 or better in each year, as measured at 32 inches
  • Color Vision: The FAA state that it is necessary to possess the “ability to perceive those colors necessary for safe performance of airman duties”

Related: Commercial Pilot Vision Requirements

Hearing

You must “demonstrate hearing of an average conversational voice in a quiet room, using both ears at 6 feet, with the back turned to the examiner or pass one of the audiometric tests”.

This test can either be an audiometric speech discrimination test (a score of at least 70% reception in one ear is required), or a pure tone audiometric test.

ENT, Pulse, and Blood Pressure

  • ENT: You must not suffer from any ear, nose, or throat condition that interferes with, or could be aggravated by flying, including the interference of clear communication, or is manifested by vertigo or a disturbance of equilibrium
  • Pulse: Not disqualifying per se. Used to determine cardiac system status and responsiveness
  • Blood Pressure: While no specified values are stated in the standards, the current guideline maximum value is 155/95

Electro-Cardiogram

An Electro-Cardiogram (EKG) is required at age 35.

Mental Health

You must not have a diagnosis of psychosis, bipolar disorder, or severe personality disorders.

Substance Dependence and Abuse

A diagnosis or medical history of substance dependence is disqualifying unless there is established clinical evidence of recovery, including abstinence of at least 2 years. A history of substance abuse within the past 2 years is disqualifying.

Disqualifying Conditions

Besides substance use and dependence, and the mental health conditions listed above, medical disqualifying conditions include:

  • Angina pectoris
  • Bipolar disease
  • Cardiac valve replacement
  • Coronary heart disease that has been treated or, if untreated, that has been symptomatic or clinically significant
  • Diabetes mellitus requiring hypoglycemic medications
  • Disturbance of consciousness without satisfactory explanation of the cause
  • Epilepsy
  • Heart replacement
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Permanent cardiac pacemaker
  • Transient loss of control of nervous system function(s) without a satisfactory explanation of the cause

How Long is a Third Class Medical Good For?

As specified in FAR 61.23, a third-class medical certificate is good for 5 years (60 months) if you are younger than 40 years old, and 2 years (24 months) if you are aged 40 or older.

How Long is a First Class Medical Good For?

A first class medical certificate is good for 6 months or 12 months, depending on if the pilot is aged 40 or older.

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