In the world of aviation, safety is paramount. Pilots undergo rigorous medical examinations to ensure they are fit to fly. However, in recent years, aviation authorities have been exploring innovative ways to streamline processes without compromising safety. One such initiative is the newly introduced Class 5 Medical Self-Declaration. CASA Instrument EX01/24 commenced on 9 February 2024. See Federal Register of Legislation – CASA EX01/24 — Flight Crew Medical Status (Class 5 Medical Self-Declaration) Exemption 2024
Traditionally, pilots were required to undergo periodic medical assessments conducted by designated aviation medical examiners (DAMEs). These assessments, while crucial for ensuring pilot fitness, often posed logistical challenges and incurred significant time and financial costs.
CASA has introduced the Class 5 Medical Self-Declaration as an alternate approach to medical certification that allows recreational and private pilots to self-assess and self-declare without requiring a medical assessment.
Pilots eligible for a Class 5 Medical Self-Declaration are:
- student pilots
- applicants for a private pilot licence (PPL) or recreational pilot licence (RPL)
- holders of a PPL or an RPL conducting single-pilot operations only.
As the holder of a Class 5 Medical Self-Declaration you must conduct all flights:
- as private operations
- with no more than two passengers
- under the VFR by day
- below an altitude of 10,000 feet
- within Australian-administered airspace
- in an aircraft with a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) less than 2,000 kg.
You must not use a CASR Part 61 operational rating e.g. instructor rating or low-level rating and you must not conduct formation flying or aerobatics.
These changes will also impact flight instructors and Part 141 and Part 142 training providers as there will now be an alternative for those students detailed above during their training and at the point of flight test, flight review or proficiency check. In the short term training providers will need to ensure that their procedures are updated to permit a holder of a Class 5 Medical Self-Declaration to under take their permitted privileges. This may require internal notices and possibly training or information sessions for staff.
Even with the requirements and restrictions imposed, the group of potential pilots who can utilise the self-declaration process is enormous. The implementation of the Class 5 Medical Self-Declaration offers several advantages:
- it reduces the administrative burden associated with traditional medical assessments, saving time and resources for both pilots and regulators
- it promotes pilot autonomy and responsibility, fostering a culture of self-awareness and accountability regarding health and fitness
- it facilitates easier access to aviation for recreational flyers and private pilots, promoting inclusivity within the aviation community.
To apply you will need to complete the online knowledge module on CASA’s eLearning platform which is accessed through your myCASA account. Once this is complete, you can also access the application through your myCASA portal (select aviation medical and then select Class 5 Medical Self-Declaration). You will then be asked to complete the questions, certify you meet the guidelines for a medical assessment for aviation and pay the fee (at this time it is $10.00). See Guidelines – Medical assessment for aviation General Aviation medicine (casa.gov.au)
When you complete the medical fitness online portal self-assessment, you will automatically be provided with a Class 5 Medical Self-Declaration. You must always keep a copy on you while you are exercising the privileges associated with your self-declaration and show that copy to any CASA inspector who wishes to see it.
Your Class 5 Medical Self-Declaration must be renewed before the date specified on your self-declaration document. Periods of validity are as shown in the table below and will also appear on your self-declaration document.
If you hold a Basis Class 2 (BC2) medical certificate or a recreational aviation medical practitioner certificate (RAMPC), you can either:
- renew your existing medical certificate
- choose to replace it with a Class 5 Medical Self-Declaration if you meet the eligibility criteria.
The benefits of transitioning to a Class 5 Medical Self-Declaration include:
- cost-saving – you don’t have to see a GP/DAME
- time-saving – you can apply online in your own time and receive certification the same day
- RAMPC holders can utilise a higher maximum take-off weight.
While a Class 5 Medical Self-Declaration places trust in pilots to assess their fitness accurately, it is not without safeguards. CASA mandates circumstances where you will be temporarily ineligible to hold a Class 5 Medical Self-Declaration or you stop being eligible. These include medically significant conditions, the cancellation of a driver’s licence due to a medical standard not being met, regularly using a disqualifying medication or substance etc. See CASA – Class 5 Medical Self-Declaration
The success of initiatives like Class 5 Medical Self-Declarations paves the way for further innovation in aviation safety and regulation. However, ongoing evaluation and adaptation will be crucial to address emerging challenges and ensure continued safety and effectiveness.
The CASA Class 5 Medical Self-Declaration represents a progressive step towards modernising aviation medical certification. By enabling pilots to self-assess their fitness responsibly, it streamlines processes while maintaining the highest standards of safety.