• GA pilots have always had to have a medical assessment in order to fly. That changes for PPLs and RPLs from 9 February. (Getty Images)
    GA pilots have always had to have a medical assessment in order to fly. That changes for PPLs and RPLs from 9 February. (Getty Images)

After extended and exhaustive advocacy, and a robust public consultation program, CASA is set to implement the self-declared Class 5 medical on Friday 9 February this year.

In the February CASA Briefing newsletter, Director of Aviation Safety and CEO Pip Spence said the new standard would permit PPLs and RPLs to self-declare their medical fitness without needing to see a doctor.

"It's a significant initiative we've been progressing as part of our General Aviation Workplan aimed at reducing unnecessary cost burdens and simplifying regulatory processes," Spence said.

"While the Class 5 won’t meet everyone’s needs, it was informed by strong feedback to introduce a scheme that didn’t involve a doctor, is based on comprehensive risk analysis and a careful examination of what other safety authorities do overseas.

"The fact that Australia is the first jurisdiction where pilots will not have to see a doctor or medical practitioner made it difficult to find comparative data on the likelihood of impairment or a related accident.

"That’s why we’ve taken an initially conservative approach and put in place operational limitations on what you can do when flying with a Class 5."

The Class 5 medical will come with restrictions that have not proven popular with the general aviation community, such as bans on aerobatics, formation flying and IFR flights, and restrictions on the MTOW and number of passengers permitted.

"We’ve noted your feedback on the need to keep looking at the operational limitations and we’ll continue to gather safety and risk data to inform future decisions on whether we can remove or relax the restrictions," Spence said.

"We’ll be conducting a post-implementation review in 12 months’ time as well as continuing to work on a Class 4 certificate that will create more operational flexibility with the involvement of a GP."

Class 5 applicants will need to complete and pass an online test and meet fitness and eligibility requirements before self-declaring. A visit to a medical professional well be needed only if the applicant is uncertain of their health status.

Spence said that self-declared medical regimes in other countries were examined, but the UK, USA, Canada and New Zealand all require some intervention from a doctor.

For pilots aged between 16 and 39, a Class 5 declaration will be valid for five years. Pilots aged between 40 and 74 will need to re-submit their declaration every two years and pilots aged 75 or over flying on a Class 5 will have to renew their declaration annually.

Pilots aged between 16 and 74 with a conditional private driver’s licence will have a Class 5 a validity period of two years, and applicants who are required to undergo a driver’s licence medical examination for any reason will be required to provide a copy of their driver licence medical examination.

Consultation on Class 5 medicals was open from 27 October and 17 November 2023, and collected 849 responses.

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