Has someone been meddling with your RPL medical?

10 February 2013 / by Des Lines / Governance, Medical

When it comes to Recreational Pilot Licence medical requirements, NZ CAA Rule Parts 61.35(b) and 61.355(a) (2) prescribe that the holder must hold an appropriate driver’s licence medical certificate with a passenger endorsement.

Nothing more.

The original intention was that pilots who were unable to meet the requirements for the higher Class 2 and Class 1 licence grades could continue to fly, subject to heavily restricted operational conditions.

It is understood that CAA was never happy about losing control of RPL medicals and the purpose of this article is to express a concern that NZ CAA is sometimes placing further restrictions on top of the medical requirement to hold the driver licence certificate as described in the above Rule Parts.

This is at odds with an article that appeared in the CAA Vector magazine Sept/Oct 2007, which stated:

Land Transport Medical Certificate

The proposed amendments to CAR Part 61 require a person wanting an RPL to hold a Land Transport New Zealand (LTNZ) Medical Certificate, valid for a Class 2, 3, 4, or 5 driver licence, with passenger endorsement. This will be issued by a General Practitioner (GP) in accordance with the Land Transport medical requirements. The cost of obtaining an LTNZ Medical Certificate will be about a quarter of the cost of the Class 2 aviation medical certificate. The CAA will not be involved in decision-making for the issuing of the medical certificate. The GP will issue it. If a pilot is not satisfied with a GP’s decision to decline to issue the LTNZ Medical Certificate, they will have to utilise the appeal process under the LTNZ legislation, not the Civil Aviation Act. RPL holders who are aged over 40 and hold an LTNZ Medical Certificate will be required to renew their Medical Certificate every two years. RPL holders who are under the age of 40 will be required to renew their medical certificate every five years. For more information on LTNZ Medical Certificates, see the LTNZ web site…

Further to that, AC 61 -20 Rev 4 on 04 Dec 2009 states:

Medical requirements

The medical standards for the issue of, and for the continuing use of, an RPL are the NZTA medical fitness standards that are applicable for a Class 2, 3, 4 or 5 driver licence with a passenger endorsement.

An applicant for the issue of an RPL, and the holder of an RPL wishing to renew their medical fitness certification must be examined by a medical practitioner. The medical practitioner will use and complete the NZTA form DL9 to conduct the medical examination in accordance with the NZTA document “Medical Aspects of Fitness to Drive: A Guide for Medical Practitioners” issued by the Director of Land Transport. The NZTA form DL9 is provided by the medical practitioner who will provide the completed and signed DL9 form to the person undergoing the medical examination at the conclusion of the examination.

Now, contrary to the previously stated “hands off “ approach by the CAA to medical certification of the RPL as stated above, we discover that the NZTA DL9 medical form must then be sent in with the forms for an initial issue or a renewal application. The NZTA DL9 form is apparently then sent to the CAA medical unit where it is obviously “audited” and then without any previously disclosed authority to act, the CAA medical section may add further restrictions to the NZTA medical certificate.

It is my assertion that if a pilot is certified fit to drive a public transport vehicle by having a valid NZTA medical to fitness standards that are applicable for a Class 2, 3, 4 or 5 driver licence with a passenger endorsement, that should be the end of the matter. The pilot is properly and legally licensed in accordance with AC 61-20.

In my opinion, all that should be required to achieve the previously asserted CAA “hands off approach” should be a simple signed certification statement by the examining GP that the applicant meets the medical requirements of the NZTA. There is no good reason why the NZTA DL9 medical form should be sent to the CAA medical unit.

I don’t know how often this is happening, but it certainly has in one case that has been brought to my attention. Anecdotal evidence suggests that others are similarly affected.

If this practice is not challenged, the primary purpose of the introduction of this licence category will be lost.

In correspondence with the Manager of Personnel Licensing, by the person who brought this matter to my attention, the CAA response was the somewhat contradictory assertion that the driver’s medical is a minimum requirement.

Precisely what is the requirement for anything more?

To quote once more from Vector Sept / Oct 2007:

“operating conditions and limitations for the RPL are designed to minimise any additional risks that may arise from the lower medical standards, and mitigate the consequences if something goes wrong.”

If more and more medical restrictions are arbitrarily being placed upon a RPL, one might well ask: Where it will end?

To challenge this interference by the CAA medical section, we need evidence of further restrictions being added to the NZTA medical that existing RPL holders have personally experienced.

Those who have experienced such “meddling” may email Des at airfabrico [at] xtra [dot] co [dot] nz