On his website, aviation safety expert witness John Ogle, MD, MPH, FACEP, answers frequently asked questions about being an aviation medical examiner:
What is an Aviation Medical Examiner and how does one become designated?
Under the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 (as amended), the FAA Administrator is authorized to delegate to qualified private physicians the conduct of medical examinations and the issuance of medical certificates to qualified applicants. Aviation Medical Examiners (AMEs) are private physicians, trained and authorized by the FAA to perform airman medical examinations, and to issue medical certificates. New AMEs are designated based upon the local demand for aeromedcial certification services.
Demand is determined by considering the total number of airmen in a particular location in relation to the number of available AMEs. The FAA has approximately 4,800 civilian AME’s located in 9 regions, 410 international AMEs located in 91 countries, and 400 federal AMEs (military, U.S. Coast Guard, NASA, and other agencies). These AMEs perform approximately 450,000 medical examinations every year in fulfilling the aeromedical certification needs of about 17,000 air traffic controllers and 640,000 pilots in the U.S and abroad.