RAAPs

RAAP 09 Medical Guidance

Wednesday 26 August, 2020

Factsheet - Medical Guidance

Recreational Aviation Advisory Publication (RAAP) 9

Version 1.1, May 2020

Download the PDF Here

RAAP 9 – Medical Guidance.

Managing medical conditions and reporting requirements for changes to health status for RAAus pilots

RAAus pilots are unique in the world, flying based on self-certifying their fitness to fly a RAAus aircraft (if no nominated medical conditions are evident*). The specific medical requirements for RAAus members are provided in Section 2.16 of our Operations Manual which is available on our website www.raaus.com.au

In general terms if you are fit to drive a car, you are fit to fly a RAAus aircraft. However this great freedom includes pilot responsibility to self-assess and be responsible for your own fitness to fly every time you intend to fly.

You must be prepared to be open and honest in your discussions and interactions with your doctor and RAAus. We trust our members to be responsible for their own fitness to fly and we will work with you as much as possible to keep you flying. We require you to fully disclose all relevant facts so your doctor can provide us with the correct advice.

RAAus is proud of our safety record over 30 years of using this medical standard. Our record demonstrators no evidence of a higher rate of medically induced accident or incidents than other aviation sectors. This document is intended to outline your responsibilities as a RAAus Pilot or Instructor when assessing you fitness to fly a RAAus aircraft.

If you are a RAAus Instructor rating holder or hold a higher Approval like a Chief Flying Instructor (CFI), Pilot Examiner (PE), or Regional Operations Coordinator (ROC) you are expected to provide evidence of a higher medical standard than that required for a Pilot Certificate holder. This standard is aligned to the Austroads Commercial Driver Licence. For the purposes of this document we will be referring to all ratings and approvals as an Instructor.

I am a RAAus student pilot – is it a different health standard?
No, a RAAus student is expected to meet the same health standard noted above for RAAus Pilots.

I am a RAAus student pilot but I don’t have a Driver Licence as yet, how do I comply?
Provided you meet the health standard as referenced in the Austroads Assessing Fitness to Drive document (https://austroads.com.au/drivers-and-vehicles/assessing-fitness-to-drive) the declaration you provided on the Junior Flying Declaration for Membership will meet this requirement.

What health standard do I need to fly a RAAus aircraft as a RAAus pilot?
In simple terms RAAus pilots must simply hold an equivalent health standard to that required to drive a private motor vehicle in Australia. There is a reference document on the Austroads website called Assessing Fitness to Drive http://www.austroads.com.au/drivers-vehicles/assessing-fitness-to-drive which you and your doctor can reference for this health standard.

* What conditions require you to provide a doctors’ statement to RAAus?
If you are over 75 years of age or have been diagnosed with:

  • Epilepsy
  • diabetes (type I or II)
  • have an ongoing heart condition
  • a mental illness (medicated or otherwise)
  • any medically significant safety related medical condition

you must supply RAAus with a statement from your treating doctor (GP) or a doctor who is aware of your condition that these conditions do not affect your fitness to meet the Austroads private motor vehicle driver licence health standard.

If your health subsequently changes, you should advise RAAus and are expected to ensure you are fit to fly before acting as pilot in command of a RAAus aircraft.

For renewals, if you have one of these conditions, the statement must be valid for the period you intend to operate an aircraft as pilot in command. So if the doctor needs to see you every year for your condition, or only every two or four years, this is what the statement will need to say.

You are responsible for supplying RAAus with this renewal statement at the due date.

Instructors, CFIs, PEs and ROCs

What health standard do I need to fly a RAAus aircraft as a RAAus Instructor?
As a RAAus member responsible for providing training to RAAus students and Pilot Certificate holders there are two possible methods for you to provide RAAus with confirmation you meet the required health standard.

If you hold a current Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) Medical Certificate Class 2 (note, this does not include the CASA Class 2 (Basic)) you meet the medical requirements for a RAAus Instructor and must supply RAAus with a copy.

Alternatively, you may meet the health standard for an Austroads Commercial Driver Licence in Australia. Ask your usual treating doctor (GP) to complete the RAAus Medical Questionnaire and Examination form which will provide confirmation to RAAus that you meet the minimum health standard.

If any of the prescribed medical conditions are present, your GP must confirm that these conditions will not affect your ability to meet the required medical standard.

As an example, you may have to complete a medical examination for a heavy vehicle driver licence. If you provide RAAus with a copy of confirmation from your Roads and Traffic Authority for your state or a copy of your Commercial Driver Licence we will accept this for the period specified on the Licence.
We will not accept a copy of your Driver Licence as this does not meet the requirements of Section 2.16 of the RAAus Operations Manual.

FAQs

I am a Pilot Certificate holder - What happens if I have one of those nominated medical conditions*?
All RAAus Pilot Certificate holders are expected to meet the same health standard noted above. However if you are over 75 or have one of the nominated medical conditions there are additional requirements.

Treatment of these nominated medical conditions can vary from time to time, depending on whether the condition is stable (managed with medication or diet) or if a recent change has occurred requiring management of the condition until your doctor is satisfied.

Examples include diabetes control, which can vary considerably depending on if treated using medication or managed with food. Likewise our situations and outlook may change with triggers such as changes in work or family circumstances, periods of stress or physiological or hormonal changes.

If any changes to your treatment affects your ability to drive, you must not fly until you are fit to drive a motor vehicle. This includes situations such as recovery from a mild heart attack, surgery for a broken bone or to insert a stent, etc. If you are unsure, talk to your doctor and carefully assess if you are fit to drive and therefore fit to fly. If you are in doubt always consult a health care professional.

Sometimes mental health issues can become a problem. Organisations like Beyond Blue https://www.beyondblue.org.au/ and Black Dog Institute https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/ are excellent support for people undergoing mental health issues. Doctors are best placed to assist you manage these issues.

What is a safety relevant medical condition?
RAAus are not doctors, neither are many of our pilots, so exactly what is a safety relevant medical condition is a great question. In broad terms, if you are diagnosed with any medical condition that prevents you driving for a period of time, including taking over the counter medications or changes in prescribed mediation, surgical procedures, etc. you should not fly a RAAus aircraft. There are also some conditions which are affected by changes in altitude, exposure to sunlight or glare and other unique aviation factors which can affect your fitness to fly.

More specifically factors unique to flying include changes in vision, hearing, age related changes to many body systems, excessive alcohol or drug use including smoking, hypoxia, changes to your circadian rhythm (body clock) due to shift work or time zone changes, stress, sleep disorders, respiratory diseases and more.

There are excellent reference documents on the CASA and FAA website for more information.

https://www.casa.gov.au/wellbeing

https://www.casa.gov.au/licences-and-certification/aviation-medicine/fact-sheets-and-case-studies

https://www.faa.gov/pilots/safety/pilotsafetybrochures/

Changes in your mental health or neurological conditions, seizures, blackouts or other disturbances are serious and must be assessed by your health care professional.

Pilots are recommended to review the Austroads Assessing Fitness to Drive guidance https://austroads.com.au/drivers-and-vehicles/assessing-fitness-to-drive or alternatively talk to your health care professional for guidance when assessing your fitness.

What other evidence will RAAus accept for my fitness to fly?
If you are a Pilot Certificate holder, RAAus will accept any CASA Medical Certificate including the Class 2 (Basic), a medical assessment from a Driver Licensing Authority (different for each state) or statements from your treating doctor provided the doctor declares that they are fully informed of your current medical status and all relevant conditions.

If you are an Instructor, you must supply a statement that proves you meet the Commercial Driver Licence health standard, or a copy of a CASA Class 2 (excluding the Class 2 Basic). RAAus will accept a medical assessment from a Driver Licensing Authority (different for each state), a copy of your current Heavy Vehicle Driver Licence or other similar documents.

My doctor wants to know what standard to assess my fitness against, what does RAAus recommend?
The Austroads Assessing Fitness to Drive document is regularly reviewed and updated https://austroads.com.au/drivers-and-vehicles/assessing-fitness-to-drive. This document provides guidance to your doctor about the appropriate health standard (private motor vehicle for Pilot Certificate holders and Commercial motor vehicle for Instructors) required.

I can’t drive a car yet, what health standard do I need?
The same Austroads Assessing Fitness to Drive medical requirements apply regardless of whether you hold a motor vehicle licence or not.

I have a physical or sensory disability, partial paralysis, or require some specialised changes to my car to permit me to drive, what about flying?
RAAus is proud to support a number of pilots with physical disabilities who are safely flying our aircraft. The same health standard exists, if you can drive a car (even if modifications to the vehicle are required), you could still fly an aircraft. Modifications to aircraft already in use include hand operated rudders, changes to control columns and throttle mechanisms and more. Members must aware that aircraft must be only modified with appropriate engineering acceptance or approvals and equipment must be fitted by suitably qualified engineers.

RAAus pilots have successfully overcome challenges related to sensory impairment, physical impairment, use of prostheses and partial paralysis.

Talk to RAAus about your specific circumstances for more information and consult the Austroads Assessing Fitness to Drive publication for specific guidance on managing disabilities. https://austroads.com.au/drivers-and-vehicles/assessing-fitness-to-drive

What about fatigue management?
While RAAus pilots are not required to comply with CASA regulations about fatigue management pilots would be foolish to think fatigue is not a major factor in safe completion of a flight. Using a checklist like IMSAFE will ensure you think about the sort of factors that may affect your flight.

I.M.S.A.F.E.

  • Illness – are you recovering from flu, a cold or any illness which could affect you?
  • Medication – Have you changed medication, or taken something you haven’t taken before?
  • Stress – Is work, family or other stresses possibly affecting your decision making?
  • Alcohol – are you suffering the effects of alcohol? It is metabolised by people at different rates.
  • Fatigue – Did you sleep well over the last week? Are you tired and fuzzy headed right now?
  • Eating and Emotion – This includes dehydration, eating nutritious food recently (not chips or candy)

When do I need to report a medical condition or change to RAAus?
Any time you have a change in your health which may affect your ability to meet the required medical standards this can have an effect on safe flying. Always consult your doctor to be sure. If you are recovering from surgery or are undergoing other health challenges, as a Pilot Certificate holder or student you simply need to not fly until you are cleared by your treating doctor or specialist.

If you are an Instructor, you must advise RAAus (phone call to Operations or email is fine) and advise of the expected length of time you will be affected. Depending on the condition you may need to supply a statement from your doctor confirming your return to fitness to fly.

How will RAAus manage my personal medical information?
RAAus will always treat any personal information about you with respect and in accordance with the RAAus Privacy Policy available from this link in the RAAus Member Portal https://www.raa.asn.au/storage/pol-2017-20-privacy-policy.pdf

RAAus works collaboratively with third parties on members’ behalf to ensure safe flight are conducted and any disciplinary matters are managed in accordance with the RAAus Complaint and Disciplinary Manual available from the Members Portal. Third parties do not become directly involved with RAAus members unless the member is not current or a serious safety concern is identified. https://www.raa.asn.au/storage/man-2017-02-complaint-handling-and-disciplinary-procedures-manual.pdf