The widely anticipated move will lead to both cost and time savings for private pilots flying on ‘national’ licences and, in most cases, remove the need for General Practitioner or Authorised Medical Examiner involvement in the process. The change follows a public consultation, in which 96 per cent of those responding agreed with the proposal.
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 (ODL). Existing medical options (for example a UK declaration with GP counter signature) 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 seventy will need to do this once while pilots over seventy must confirm their declaration every three years.
The changes are subject to the enactment of the proposed Air Navigation Order 2016 (ANO) which is planned to come into effect on a so far unspecified date in ‘late summer’ 2016. The proposed ANO legislation will contain these changes and other significant amendments for GA.
Currently pilots with an 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 to meet 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. (Pilot magazine has long advocated a more realistic, evidence-based approach to medical certification). 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.