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Goodbye PPL Medical – and good riddance (but not in New Zealand)

96% of UK pilots backed the scrapping of the PPL medical. Is the NZ CAA deaf?

96% of UK pilots backed the scrapping of the PPL medical. Is the NZ CAA deaf?

The UK Civil Aviation Authority has announced the virtual end of the PPL medical.

Requirements for private pilots are to change in line with the CAA’s top level principles for GA regulation. They do not apply to pilots with commercial licences or those displaying at airshows, who will still need to be approved as fit to fly by a specialist aviation medical examiner.

The move – supported by 96% of respondents in a public consultation – will lead to cost and time savings for pilots and, in most cases, even remove the need for General Practitioner or Authorised Medical Examiner involvement.

Once the change takes place later this year, the medical requirement for UK private pilot licence and national private pilot licence holders will be to meet the same standard as that required to hold a DVLA Group 1 Ordinary Driving Licence. Existing medical options (for example, a UK declaration with GP countersignature) will remain available. The same options will also be available for private balloon pilots.

To take advantage of the change, pilots will need to complete a form on the CAA website to declare that they meet the DVLA medical standard. Pilots under 70 will need to do this once, while pilots over 70 must confirm their declaration every three years.

The changes are planned to come into effect in late northern summer 2016 when a new version of the UK Air Navigation Order will be published, containing these changes and other significant amendments for general aviation.

Currently, pilots with a NPPL licence are required to comply with DVLA group 1 or 2 standards and have their self-declaration of fitness countersigned by their GP. Holders of a UK PPL currently need an EU class 2 medical or the NPPL medical requirements if they only use the privileges of an NPPL licence.

The change is supported by a study of the risks associated with GA flying, together with a review of the causes of light aircraft accidents and the likelihood of these being triggered by a pilot being medically incapacitated. The risk to third parties has been considered and the regulatory approach taken by the Federal Aviation Administration in the USA, which mirrors the UK proposal, was also reviewed.

The consultation response document can be seen at www.caa.co.uk/cap1397.

More detail on the CAA’s GA activities and the work of the GA Unit are available at www.caa.co.uk/ga.

The FAA has a bill passing through Congress which will give PPL privileges on a driver’s licence medical.

Could we soon see the walls of our own CAA Medical Unit begin to crack under the weight of global common sense?

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