Airside Driving Medicals

In my practice of Aviation Medicals at Heathrow airport in the last three years, l have done no fewer than 1,043 airside medicals. These are, of course, required by ANYONE who wishes to drive inside the perimeter designate as “airside”. Within this area there are further subdivisions such as ‘outer roads and access’, ‘areas used by aircraft’ and ‘operational areas’ as well as ‘ runway’.(driving and crossing). For these there are special rules and testing but these are outside the scope of this article and relate to the driving procedures. I will focus on the medical requirements. Naturally a ‘pass’ is required for anyone to enter this area even if the person concerned is a manager on his once annual trip.

The frequency of medicals is laid down but, in reality, not always followed. I have read a requirement for testing every 3 years at Gatwick and 5 years at Heathrow. I have met workers who have gone far longer than this and, conversely, some workers, changing jobs, may be asked to complete another medical within a few months, or weeks, of their last. The reason for this is that ‘passes’ are not transferrable between companies. Similarly it appears that the level of testing varies from clinic to clinic. There is a theoretical basic minimum that should be followed and l try to do this plus any extra that is either indicated or would seem necessary. Basically, the medical should be to DVLA class 1 standards as per Cap 790, the latest Airside driving regulations dated February 2012.Airfiels are ‘private property and authorities may stipulate the standards required. In my opinion, however, note should be taken of the driving involved e.g. even if not required for airside purposes, a driver requiring HGV or LGV privileges should be advised if they fall short of the requirements.

ALL medicals require an Ishihara colour vision test and l do this on repeats as l rarely have a previous record available. The test can be performed to the first 15 plates, as the requirement is to be able to see the pure colours “White, Green and Red”. If the Ishihara is failed l use the Holmes Wright Lantern using the pure colours as required. It is a surprising fact that, if the test is failed, a driving test may, in some cases, be performed by the company, obviously observing the ability to recognise the instructions and differences between lights and the employee licensed to drive for that company only and at the single designated airfield only.

The rest of the medical will depend on circumstances. Unless required ( see attached copy of CAP 790) these are done to Class 1 standards. Vision should be at least 6/9 in one eye and 6/12 in the other with or without correction. I do near vision, pupil activity, eye movement, tests of diplopia and six pint field testing.

Naturally the blood pressure requirements are way outside normal recommendation and, even if within airside allowances, it is my practice to refer them to their GP if appropriate.

Finally, as with all medicals, airside driving medicals can serve as a useful opportunity for general health advice.

Airside driving Cap790 February 2012

Medical Requirements

2.1 Drivers must be medically fit to drive to DVLA Group 1 standard1. As a minimum the ADP must require:

  1. an initial and renewal medical declaration to align with DVLA Group 1 standard1;
  2. medical assessments to relate to occupational age limits e.g. LGV;
  3. medical assessments where DVLA health conditions are declared by the driver;
  4. reviews following driving accidents or incidents at work.

2.2 It is the responsibility of the aerodrome operator to decide what additional specific factors there might be about the workplace and vehicles which may impose additional medical fitness requirements over and above those required for driving on the public roads. This should be based on a local risk assessment by the aerodrome operator, which may include organisations that operate airside, and should relate to local procedures, environment, infrastructure, topography, complexity and how busy the airfield is. Guidance on the considerations for medical and fitness assessment are given in Appendix A and on the HSE website.

2.3 A driver must disclose to the DVLA and their employer any medical condition or prescribed medication which may affect their ability to drive safely. Further guidance can be found on the Medical Information section of the DVLA website.

2.4 Where the DVLA places a condition or restriction on a driver this must be considered by the employer and medical advice obtained. The employer shall inform the aerodrome operator of any such condition or restriction. Appropriate action may involve suspending or removing the ADP as soon as a potential medical issue is brought to their notice.

1. Group 1 includes motor cars and motor cycles, see “At a Glance Medical requirements DVLA”.

For more information or to book an appointment please contact Philip Ranger on his mobile (07740 868749) or alternatively phone Redhill (open Tuesdays & Thursdays but can leave message) on 01737 823 550. You can also book online below:

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