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Flight Training Requirements

Planes at the Hangar

FAA Medical Certificate Requirements for Flight Training

All students planning to begin flight training at Saint Louis University must hold a current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical certificate. Proof of your holding a current first or second-class medical certificate must be provided BEFORE you will be allowed to enroll in any flight training courses. A medical certificate will be considered current if it has been issued within 12 calendar months prior to the start of flight training.

Without a current FAA second-class or first-class medical certificate, you will not be allowed to enroll in any flight training course offered by Saint Louis University. 

Aviation medical examiners (AMEs) are licensed medical doctors who are designated by the FAA to issue these certificates, following completion of an application and a physical examination. AMEs can be found in most U.S. cities and in major cities abroad. For names and addresses of AMEs, visit this FAA website.

There are several reasons for which you could be denied a medical certificate even if you feel you are in good health. These reasons have to do with medical and/or legal problems you have had and should be evaluated before beginning your education for an aviation-related career. 

Prior medical issues and the current, or prior, use of certain prescription medications can be either disqualifying, or may require further inquiry by the FAA. Legal problems (arrests and/or convictions) can also create problems, particularly if they relate to alcohol or drug violations. If any of these problems need to be processed to obtain your certificate, delays are common. Therefore, we advise you to obtain an FAA medical certificate several months before coming to Saint Louis University. You are required to possess a medical certificate to enroll in any of the flight training courses, so get your medical certificate early to avoid delays.

Color Vision Restriction

A common limitation is a color vision restriction which restricts pilots from flying at night or under a light signal gun control. These problems need to be identified to determine if you are eligible for a career as a professional pilot.

There can be no night-flight or other vision restrictions of any kind noted on the medical certificate. 

ADD Diagnoses

Depression and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and other mood disorder diagnoses are also common, and even if the problems have resolved, the FAA will need to review your medical history. Copies of medical records and evaluations are important for the medical certificate review. We recommend that you obtain copies of all of your records and keep them in a file in case they need to be reviewed.

Classes of Medical Certificates

There are three classes of medical certificates.

  • First-class certificates are required for pilots exercising privileges of an airline transport pilot certificate (flying for an air carrier.)
  • Second-class medical certificates are needed for performing other commercial operations.
  • Third-class medical certificates are adequate for private pilot privileges.

Persons seeking a commercial pilot certificate will need to obtain a minimum of a second-class medical certificate. Our FAA-approved Part 141 training course outlines (TCOs) require you to obtain a second-class medical certificate prior to beginning your flight training. Although a third-class medical certificate is adequate for flight training, the visual requirements are not as stringent as the first- and second-class certificates.

Disclose All Information

If you have significant medical and/or legal problems, you should have copies of medical and/or court records for your examiner. You should be aware that drug and alcohol arrests and/or convictions (yes, paying a fine is a conviction) and administrative actions are considered serious problems by government and the aerospace industry. Failing to report or disclose these matters can also have serious repercussions with the FAA. Medical and behavior standards of professional pilots and air traffic controllers are among the highest in our society. Mistakes, poor judgment, and other "indiscretions of youth" can have lasting consequences related to your career. Prevention (through responsible behavior) is the key.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I go about obtaining a medical certificate?
You need to schedule an appointment with an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME). AMEs are different than regular physicians, as they have been specifically designated by the FAA to conduct FAA medical examinations. AMEs are available throughout the USA and abroad. 
What kinds of questions will I have to answer when I apply for a medical certificate?
Be prepared to spend some time filling out a form prior to your physical examination. In addition to standard information such as your name and address, you will be asked to report use of medications, past medical history, and visits to health professionals. You will also be asked to report any alcohol- or drug-related motor vehicle convictions and non-traffic misdemeanors or felonies. If you have been flying, be prepared to answer questions about your total pilot time and pilot time in the last 6 months. You will sign the bottom of the form, making it a legal document saying that all information provided is correct to the best of your knowledge. An instruction sheet is provided with the form to help you fill it out.
I have a medical or legal issue; will this prevent me from getting a medical certificate?
Start the application process early and find an AME who will be willing to work with you through this process. There are some conditions that are disqualifying, and there are some conditions that can be allowed with restrictions after additional testing.
Where can I get more information?

The FAA's website provides information, including other FAQs.

Recent changes in some state's laws allow recreational use of marijuana as well as medical marijuana prescriptions. According to the FAA, marijuana use, even with a prescription, is a violation of the medical certificate requirements. 

Our goal is to educate aviation professionals regarding many aspects of their future careers in a demanding industry. Learning about acceptable behaviors is an important aspect of this process.

Planning is essential with any college endeavor - especially with an aviation major. If you have any questions regarding FAA medical certification, please contact your AME. If you have questions regarding legal matters, please consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable about federal aviation regulations.

TSA Approval Requirements to Conduct Flight Training

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has set forth requirements that must be met before students can conduct flight training at Saint Louis University (SLU).

SLU’s Department of Aviation Science is required by the TSA to verify the citizenship of all students prior to conducting any flight training in certain flight courses. This process must be completed at SLU and is completed by Flight Instruction personnel at the airport. This is normally accomplished when students meet with their flight instructor for the first time.

Verification of citizenship is required for the following courses: FSCI 1150, FSCI 2150, and FSCI 3550. 

Students will complete this process multiple times as they progress through flight training and will need to present proper identification each time the process must be done.

Students who are United States citizens will be required to show proof of citizenship prior to beginning flight training. This typically consists of presenting a valid, unexpired US Passport or a certified birth certificate combined with a government-issued photo ID. Students should make sure they bring the appropriate documents with them when they come to SLU. A full list of acceptable forms of identification is available below. 

Acceptable Forms of Proof of Citizenship

(U.S. Citizens Only)

To prove your citizenship, you must present one of the following items to the Department Aviation Science personnel at the Center for Aviation Science (at the airport.) Please bring the appropriate identification listed below:

  • Determine applicability. The requirements for determining citizenship status for any student, whether U.S. or alien, applies only to flight training towards an initial FAA pilot certificate, including a recreational pilot, sport pilot, or private pilot certificate; instrument rating; or multiengine rating.
  • Proof of citizenship. Student must show evidence of U.S. citizenship to instructor with one of the following:
    • Valid, unexpired U.S. passport
    • Original or government-issued birth certificate of the U.S., American Samoa, or Swains Island AND a government-issued picture ID
    • Original certificate of birth abroad with raised seal (Form FS-545 or DS-1350) AND a government-issued picture ID
    • Original certificate of U.S. citizenship with raised seal (Form N-560 or N-561) or a Certificate of Repatriation (Form N-581) AND government-issued pictured ID
    • Original U.S. Naturalization Certificate with raised seal (Form N-550 or N-570) AND a government-issued picture ID.

These are the only documents that are acceptable. If you choose to present your birth certificate and ID, please note it must be the original birth certificate, or a Government issued certified copy. A certified copy is one issued by the state where you were born – usually because the original was lost. It will have some type of stamp or raised seal indicating its authenticity. It cannot be a photocopy of the original, even if it is notarized. It cannot be a fax of the original. It cannot be the commemorative certificate from the hospital. If you need to request a certified copy – please be aware the processing time varies from state to state.

SLU’s Department of Aviation Science recommends all students obtain a passport. In addition to being able to prove citizenship for TSA compliance, a passport is a useful tool for a professional aviator. If you apply for a passport, the process can take 6 weeks or longer. Please DO NOT send your birth certificate away if you will need it as proof of citizenship at the start of a semester; wait until you have been TSA cleared.

NOTE: Students who are not United States citizens have additional TSA requirements, and will need to start the TSA approval process before the semester begins.

Non-US Citizens

Flight students who are not United States citizens must accomplish 2 additional steps before beginning flight training: a more comprehensive TSA approval process, and an English language evaluation. 

TSA AFSP Approval

Non-US citizens must register as an Alien Flight Student Candidate with the Transportation Security Administration's Alien Flight Student Program. You must have TSA/AFSP approval in order to start flight training. This is a multi-step process that may take a month or more. It is recommended that you start the process no later than 30 days prior to the start of your flight lab. You have 180 days after TSA/AFSP approval to begin flight training. The TSA/AFSP web site has explicit instructions for you to follow, as well as a help page.

The following is an approximate breakdown of the steps required to obtain AFSP approval:

  1. Register at SLU for a class that includes flight training.
  2. Register online with the TSA/AFSP (they will require information from your visa, passport, etc.).
  3. SLU will confirm your intent to conduct flight training to the TSA/AFSP.
  4. Pay the TSA/AFSP a $130 fee.
  5. TSA/AFSP will notify you and SLU when all documentation is received and accepted.
  6. TSA/AFSP will send you instructions for having fingerprints taken. There is an additional fee for fingerprinting.
  7. Have fingerprints taken and submitted to the TSA/AFSP.
  8. TSA/AFSP will notify both you and SLU when you are approved for flight training.
  9. Your picture will be taken for submission to the TSA/AFSP. When this is accomplished, flight training can begin.