May 13, 2021

Aviation Document and Medical Renewals


By Peter Campbell, Director External Relations, COPA

With the on again–off again status of so many things right now, it probably shouldn’t surprise us that the average GA pilot, those flying recreationally, have not flown much and consequently haven’t looked at their Aviation Document, the “blue book,” or checked the contents thereof. If this is your situation, take out your blue book as you read this and look inside the front cover, to the spot that rarely gets looked at when it’s opened. Take a look at your expiry date. Since September 2016, the Documents were being issued for a 10-year period, but before that they were only for five years. Your book may be one of those shorter-term documents. Is your Aviation Document still valid, or has it expired?

If it is no longer current, did it expire very recently? There were at least two COVID-19 exemptions issued that would cover an extension that might apply to you. NCR 080-2020 allowed those who had a valid Document on March 12, 2020, to continue to use the book, while applying for a renewal, until March 31, 2021.

NCR 010-2021 issued recently pushed the renewal deadline out to December 31, 2021. To use the outdated book, you have to be able to prove that a renewal was sent to your TC Regional Office. However, both of these exemptions only apply to those who had an Aviation Document that expired March 13, 2020 or thereafter. If yours expired before that date, then TOO BAD.

Ironically, there are times when the TC renewal process is completely dependent on the owner of the Aviation Document to take responsibility for the renewal process. Unlike the provincial agencies that manage your vehicle registration or driver’s licences for regulatory purposes and modest financial gain, Transport Canada does subscribe to this concept that they do not yet charge to issue or renew the book that holds your licence and your medical certificate. Although there is a fee for replacement of lost or destroyed Aviation Documents. Treat it with tender care!

Are you one of those whose book “died” before March 12, 2020? You have no extension and in TC’s eyes there is no excuse. Without a valid Aviation Document, you can’t fly until you complete and submit an application for a new/renewed Document and have asked for, been granted permission, and have received a temporary document. That request can be sent by email to your regional office and should be handled within near-normal service delivery standards; approximately eight weeks.

Because the Aviation Document is very much like a Passport and a citizenship document, it also requires the confirmation of identity, a certified likeness passport photo, with the submission. Because of the photo ID requirement, the renewal application MUST be MAILED to the regional Transport Canada office.

In these COVID-19 times, we all know that the mail system has major challenges. We also know that when it gets to the TC Regional Office mailroom it is going to sit there for some time. And you can easily imagine with stay-at-home orders in places like Toronto, those mailrooms are getting filled up with many pieces of correspondence. Prior to the arrival of COVID-19, TC was advising that we renew our Aviation Documents at least six to eight weeks prior to expiration. I have no idea what the realistic service standard is for our current situation but NCR 010-2021 that gave extensions to December 2021 certainly indicate that delivery of a new Aviation Document will take months.

While we are waiting for our temporary permit to arrive, it is a good time to check on the status of the other very important component of our little blue book, our medical expiry date. Like the Document there is no reminder notice sent out by TC. Maybe they should? That is a topic for another discussion my friends.

Depending on your Medical Category and your age (over or under 40), you may be able to go up to five years between medicals or if you are 60 or older, holder of a Category 1 Medical and carrying passengers then you are getting examined every six months. Another key discriminator on eligibility is did your personal CAME sign and stamp you Document at the time of the last Medical? If so, then very good. If not then you’ve got extra correspondence to share with the CAME folks at the Regional or National offices.

You probably already know that you need to keep on top of this elaborate process. Trust me, I am dealing with pilots every week who are regularly sharing medical reports and information that goes beyond the basic medical examination to keep their flying privileges intact. Keeping ourselves medically fit will be the subject of a future eFlight article.

Are you one of the lucky Canadian pilots out there who has a CAME that hasn’t retired and is still receiving pilots at the office? That is great news. While you are there, your doctor that will do the Aviation Medical will be sending the completed Electronic Medical Examination Report (EMER) through the new secure email system directly to the CAME offices YES, that is excellent news, you will likely get your stamp and signature and continue to exercise your privileges without delay.

Maybe your CAME has stopped due to COVID-19 or retired? There is a CAME search engine at TC here or here for our French pilots. Transport Canada CAME staff has also devised the Telemedicine system to overcome these COVID-19 challenges. They canvassed all CAMEs to make a list of those who would be willing to conduct online medical appointment.

Their website, both in English and French, provides a Canada-wide list of all the CAMEs who are willing to complete a routine Aviation Medical through a video conference system. The web link is here in English and here/ici pour les francais.

As a result of the CAME search engine and the Telemedicine initiative, many of us who have routine medical examination needs and more we still have a good choice of services for getting, and renewing our medicals in a timely fashion. It is up to us to take this matter with professional vigour and take responsibility for keeping your privileges current. Let’s blow the dust off our Aviation Document and check the date on our medical and take the right steps to keep them current. Canada is a great place to fly. Let’s get airborne legally and enjoy the time in the air!

(Photo: Adobestock, Boggy)