Published date: 5 March 2021

Please note: To be able to fly on a DL9 driver licence medical certificate, your DL9 needs to be at least a Class 2 (2,3,4,5) medical certificate with passenger (P) endorsement.

Upcoming changes to New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Rules will deliver a cheaper and more accessible medical certification option for thousands of New Zealand pilots.

From 5 April holders of private pilot licences will be able to fly with a driver licence medical certificate (known as a DL9) rather than the more costly class 2 aviation medical certificate.

Previously, pilots holding a DL9 medical could fly only within the restrictions of the more limited recreational pilot licence class. Private pilots can also now clearly see what restrictions will apply to them depending on the type of medical certificate they hold.

Work on this licensing reform has been under way for some time and included a CAA review of medical certification standards and requirements for private pilots, as well as consultation and engagement with pilots and their representative groups.

PPL holders flying on a DL9 medical will be able to exercise most of the privileges of their licence, but there will be some privileges which will remain available only to those with a current class 2 medical, such using their aerobatic ratings and flying under instrument flight rules. You can see a comparison of PPL privileges by licence type here and read the pending Part 61 rule amendment here.

Civil Aviation Authority’s acting Licensing and Standards Manager, David Harrison, says these changes help reduce a significant cost barrier for pilots and bring New Zealand broadly in line with other international aviation authorities.

“Private pilots have been calling for the CAA to adopt an alternative PPL medical standard for some time now.  We have listened carefully, consulted widely and have concluded that we can make these changes without adding any unacceptable risk for New Zealand’s aviation system,” Mr Harrison said.

“Most pilots will be able to get a DL9 medical from a local medical practitioner, such as their family GP, and unlike class 2 medicals there will be no CAA charges involved.

“These changes will be welcome news for the approximately 5,500 pilots flying recreationally in New Zealand with a class 2 medical.

“They will also lower barriers to entry for any individual who wishes to become a pilot.”

Notes to the editor

  • From 5 April 2021 private pilot licence holders will be able to fly on a DL9 driver licence medical, provided it is current and they have supplied this to the CAA.
  • Amendments to the Civil Aviation Rules were signed by the Minister of Transport in mid-February to enable these changes to occur.
  • The recreational pilot licence category (which allowed pilots to fly on a DL9 but with substantial restrictions) will be revoked, and licence holders will be issued with a PPL.
  • There are 195 pilots in New Zealand with an active recreational pilot licence who will be issued with a PPL. Of these pilots, 178 have a licence to fly an aeroplane and 17 to fly a helicopter.
  • As of 3 March there were 5,529 pilots in New Zealand with an active class 2 medical, including more than 3,500 pilots who hold commercial or airline pilot licences but who are flying only recreationally these days.
  • Pilots flying on a DL9 medical will still need to meet all the other conditions of their licence. These include:
    • Having a flight check with an instructor every two years;
    • Having safely conducted three take-offs and landings in the last 90 days if they are going to carry passengers.