The FAA has published a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) designed to provide regulatory relief for individuals unable to meet some training, experience, testing and checking requirements due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The SFAR includes provisions for expiring flight instructor and medical certificates, recent flight experience requirements, flight reviews, knowledge tests and inspection authorizations. The special regulation will go into effect immediately following its publication in the Federal Register.
“Since March 2020 and with each month thereafter, a new group of pilots becomes unavailable to perform critical operations because they cannot comply with certain training, recent experience, testing, or checking requirements,” the FAA said. “This SFAR will provide temporary relief to certain individuals whose qualifications would otherwise lapse, to ensure there are a sufficient number of qualified personnel available to conduct essential aviation activities during this period.”
The SFAR (PDF) extends the validity of medical certificates that expire from March 31, 2020, through May 31, 2020, until June 30, 2020. The agency emphasized that the prohibition on operations during medical deficiency remain unchanged. Similarly, the validity of flight instructor certificates expiring between March 31, 2020, and May 31, 2020, will be extended until June 30. Flight instructor certificates renewed during the grace period will retain their original expiration month. FAA knowledge tests expiring between March and June have also been granted an additional three calendar months.
Under the SFAR, pilots with biennial flight reviews due March through June 2020 can extend the 24-calendar-month requirement by three calendar months provided they have “logged at least 10 hours of PIC time within the twelve calendar months preceding the month the flight review was due” and completed FAA Safety Team online courses totaling at least three WINGS credits. A grace period for instrument currency has been established until June 30 as long as the pilot has “logged at least three instrument approaches in actual weather conditions, or under simulated conditions using a view-limiting device” within the six calendar months preceding a flight. The SFAR also provides a three-month extension for mechanics with inspection authorization to complete renewal requirements originally due by March 31, 2020.