Review of medical certification issues

2 Jun 2000

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) today announced that it has asked two prominent doctors to review the entire system of medical assessment of pilots and air traffic controllers.

The review will be undertaken by Professor Des Gorman and Professor Sir John Scott.

Announcing the review Director of Civil Aviation Kevin Ward said it would give the CAA, the medical aviation industry and the public an independent assessment of current practices and identify any areas that needed to be changed.

Under the current system, most medical assessments are undertaken by private medical practitioners authorised by the Director of Civil Aviation as Aviation Medical Assessors (AMAs).

Mr Ward said the objective of the Review, as stated in the terms of reference, is to assess the validity and reliability of the current medical assessment model utilised by the CAA in terms of safety at reasonable cost, and make such recommendations to the Director as it sees fit in relation to:

  1. The model used, including monitoring and compliance processes;
  2. The current rules; and,
  3. The governance of medical certification processes and the relationships for implementation.

A secondary objective is to review the actions taken by the CAA in recent high profile issues and report to the Director on the appropriateness of those actions.

"We are pleased that two people of the stature of Professor Gorman and Sir John have agreed to undertake the review and are confident that they will give impartial, considered advice."

Mr Ward said the impetus for the review came from the CAA, which wanted to ensure that its processes and actions were appropriate and to identify any areas where improvements could be made. The review was not prompted by, or primarily concerned with, the current audit of AMAs and the suspension of one AMA, but this had heightened industry and public interest in the medical assessment process.

The review team starts work immediately. A reporting date will be agreed when the team has had the opportunity to assess the size of the tasks involved, but the team has agreed to the CAA's request that the matter be completed as quickly as possible, without compromising the team's ability to undertake a thorough review.

The review team has discretion to approach or receive submissions from any interested party, including AMAs and DMEs, pilots, industry organisations, and international experts in aviation medicine.

"The process of assessing the medical fitness of pilots and air traffic controllers is a critical part of ensuring flight safety, so it is important that the CAA, the industry and the public have assurance that we use the right model, and do everything to ensure it works well," said Mr Ward.

Kevin W. Ward
Director of Civil Aviation