Applicants wishing to obtain a flying licence are required by law to hold a valid medical certificate, appropriate for their duties. There are four classes of medical certificate holders, Class I, Airline Transport and Commercial Pilots. Class II medical certificate holders include Private Pilots, Student Pilots and Cabin Crew. The category for Class III medical certificate holders includes Traffic Controllers, and Class IV medical certificate holders include a range of recreational pilots (e.g. Micro-lights, Air Balloons). The table below indicate the different classes of medical certificate requirement.
Flying is a highly skilled job that involves a complex interaction between the aviator and the machine in an environment that is full of stressors. .The aircraft environment differs from other occupational environments with respect to the following altitude stressors; hypoxia, noise and vibration, low humidity leading to dehydration, fatigue, decompression syndrome, acceleration and spatial disorientation. Because of these stressors, the aircrew is required to maintain a high level of physical and mental fitness to operate in that environment.
Aviation personnel are legally required to assess their fitness to carry out their professional duties. A medical disability in an aircrew member may lead to discontinuity in flying for a temporary period, and if the disease process is not controlled on time, it may lead to permanent denial of a flying licence. This incapacitation may be subtle or sudden, complete or partial. It may be due to the pre-existing medical condition manifesting itself in flight, or the development of an acute medical condition, or some physiological event that renders an otherwise fit and well aircrew member temporarily unable to fly or safely operate the aircraft. The SACAA complies with medical standards and recommended practices prescribed in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Annex 1 Chapter 6.
Most potential pilots with a significant risk of incapacitation (e.g. Epilepsy, Type I Diabetes Mellitus) are screened out at the time of initial examination. Internationally; the civil aviation authorities permit airmen with certain medical conditions to be medically certified, provided that such conditions do not compromise aviation safety.
1. Who are Designated Aviation Medical Examiners?
The Director of the Civil Aviation Authority has designated medical examiners, qualified and licensed in the practice of medicine, to conduct medical examinations of fitness of applicants for the issue or renewal of the licences or ratings on her behalf. There are two categories of DAMES:
Regular Designated Aviation Medical Examiners-Authorized to perform and issue Class II and Class IV Medical Certificates
Senior Designated Aviation Medical Examiners-Authorized to perform and issue Class I,II,III and Class IV Medical Certificates
2. Who are the Medical Assessors?
Medical Assessors are doctors appointed by the Director of the SACAA and qualified and experienced in the practice of aviation medicine and competent in evaluating and assessing medical conditions of flight safety significance. The role of the medical assessor and the evaluation of medical reports to evaluate reports submitted to the SACAA by medical examiners, training of DAMEs, development of regulations and technical standards.. The purpose of such auditing is to ensure that medical examiners meet applicable standards for good medical practice and aeromedical risk assessment. Medical Assessor also conduct other oversight functions on behalf of the Director.
3. Aeromedical Committee
The Director of the SACAA has appointed the Aeromedical Committee (AMC), which is a committee tasked with the responsibility of advising the Director of the Civil Aviation on complex medical cases presented to ensure that medical certificates are not be issued or renewed unless the risk is such that exercise of the privileges of the licence applied for is not likely to jeopardize flight safety. The AMC is an advisory body of medical, psychological, surgical, ancillary health and aviation industry experts charged with advising the CAA on any medical risks of existing or prospective aviation personnel who are required in terms of the Civil Aviation Regulations(1997) to hold medical certificates. The AMC meets once a month to discuss complicated medical cases.
4. Designated Aviation Medical Examiners (DAMCE) Guide
The Designated Aviation Medical Guide contains regulations, technical standards and other information applicable to the medical certification of aviation personnel.
5. Medical Appeals
Applicants not satisfied with the decision of the Medical Examiner of Medical Assessors may appeal to the Director
Links: Medical Certification
About Medical Certification
ICAO Manual of Civil Aviation
Recently amended medical protocols
Designated Medical Examiners (SA)
Designated Medical Examiners (Foreign)
Aeromedical Committee Calendar
Aeromedical Committee Procedure
Conferences & Training
Links: Air Ambulances
Air Ambulances Oversight
List of Approved Air Ambulance
Air Ambulance Approval Procedure
Links: First Aid Cabin Crew Training
About First Aid Cabin Crew Training
Designation of the Instructors and Examiners Procedure
Requirements for Designation
Instructors & Cabin Crew DE's
Other Important Links
About Aviation Medicine
Aviation Medicine Training
Research Information Manager
Virtual Flight Surgeons, Inc
World Health Organisation
ICAO Aviation Medicine