Australia’s aviation safety regulator is seeking industry views on potential changes to pilot medical requirements.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has released a discussion paper entitled “Medical Certification Standards”, which outlines six potential options that could be considered for future consultation.
CASA acting chief executive and director of aviation safety Shane Carmody said in the discussion paper’s introduction aviation medicine was “complex”, given the medical, regulatory and legal issues that needed to be considered.
“The discussion paper is intended to stimulate debate and raise awareness about our current approach to aviation medicine, the propriety of current medical fitness standards, the factors involved in aeromedical decision-making and related considerations and developments internationally and in other jurisdictions,” Carmody said.
“Ultimately, our objective is to identify modifications to our approach that will make the most sense for Australia today and in the future.”
The discussion paper noted the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations currently had four types of medical certification – class one for those holding air transport commercial or multi-pilot licence; class two for private pilots; class three for air traffic controllers; and a recreational aviation medical practitioner’s certificate (RAMPC).
A medical assessment from a specialist designated aviation medical examiner (DAME) is required to receive, and retain, Class one, two and three certification.
“Historically, the aviation medical system in Australia has monitored the health of all pilots – those involved in commercial air transport as well as pilots operating general and sport/recreational aircraft,” the discussion paper said.
“The question now being asked by industry (both in Australia and worldwide) is whether the same general approach taken to monitor the health of pilots involved in air transport as a career is appropriate for all other licence holders as well.”
“A number of other countries have introduced (or are considering) different approaches to medical certification.
“These include assigning a more prominent role in the medical certification process to doctors outside the aviation medicine specialisations, or in some cases, greater degrees of self-certification.
“Any relaxation of existing requirements will rely more heavily on the integrity and insight of the pilot and will necessitate the need for additional education or training.”
While the paper contained no proposals or draft regulations, it outlined six options that could be considered.
- continuing the existing medical certification requirements and arrangements (status quo);
re-assessing risk tolerances which inform medical certifications standards in the context of industry and community expectations;
- examining and streamlining medical certification practices across the various certification standards, including the approach to assessing incapacitation risk;
- aligning certification standards across the sport and recreational sectors by revising the recreational aviation medical practitioner’s certificate to make it both more accessible to pilots and more widely applicable;
- developing a new medical certificate for the sport and recreational sectors which considers overseas approaches with elements of self-certification; and
- mitigating the risks of any changes by applying operational restrictions.
Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the discussion paper formed “the basis for any future consultation between CASA and the aviation community on potential changes to medical certification”.
“I welcome this consultation process which is intended to streamline medical requirements for pilots in the future,” Chester said in a statement.
“In particular, I am keen to see what improvements can be made to the private pilot medical requirements to help alleviate regulatory and cost burdens in the general aviation sector.
“It is essential that any changes that are made are assessed against safety and risk considerations.”
The due date for submissions is March 30 2017.
The full discussion paper can be read on the CASA website here.