The UK CAA has dramatically changed its stance on medical examinations for private pilots, just days after the CAA’s Head of Medical Policy wrote to AeroMedical Examiners (AMEs) to tell them that they should not be conducting medicals for ‘leisure/sport pilots’. The letter went on to warn that the CAA were monitoring AMEs and would: “…be able to identify cases where the applicant appears to have breached the current Government lockdown regulations.”
The letter, and the perceived veiled threat within it, generated outcry amongst the GA community. It was pointed-out that attending medical appointments appeared to be specifically permitted in both current government guidance and legislation. Pilots have also said that in addition to the pilot licence implications, for many the regular medical examinations they undergo acts as a valuable general ‘health check’. FTN reported this story on Tuesday 10th November.
representation from GA organisations, and the intervention of the Department for Transport, has led the CAA to have a re-think on the issue
FTN understands that in the days since the story broke, representation from GA organisations, and the intervention of the Department for Transport, has led the CAA to have a re-think on the issue. The new advice to AMEs (reproduced below) makes it clear that it is now up to the AMEs themselves to decide if a medical appointment should go ahead, weighing the risks of conducting the medical against the flight safety implications.
The CAA letter in full:
Dear AME Colleagues,
We recently provided guidance that Class 2 and LAPL medical examinations should not routinely take place during the current COVID lockdown. We have had more feedback on this issue from both the AME and GA flying communities, and following discussion with the DfT, particularly in relation to how our guidance sits with both the Cabinet Office guidance on the Public Health requirement to stay at home to prevent the spread of the virus, and the DfT’s guidance on which GA activities can continue.
Cabinet Office guidance is that individuals may leave home ‘for any medical reason, including to get a COVID-19 test, for medical appointments and emergencies.’ It is the interpretation of ‘any medical reason’ that has caused discussion regarding whether a medical examination for the purpose of a pilot’s licence for recreational flying is included in this definition.
We have therefore agreed that AMEs can advise and determine whether conducting a certification appointment is justified, weighing the risks of attending the appointment with the flight safety assurance it provides, such as to permit, inter alia, the conduct of engine health and maintenance flights or renew currency that will expire imminently, where the pilot cannot use the medical self-declaration system or does not have the benefit a CAA Exemption extending certificate validity.
We encourage AMEs to document discussions with the applicant that inform the decision to undertake the appointment, and if you need support or assistance please contact us in the usual way.
With best regards,
Dr Michael J A Trudgill
MSc MB BCh MRCGP MFOM Dip IMC RCS(Ed) DAvMed FAsMA FRAeS