CFIs and airmen whose certificates have expired or will expire while serving outside of the United States in Operation Enduring Freedom received relief from the FAA this week. Effective immediately, the FAA has adopted a special federal aviation regulation (SFAR) that allows flight standards district offices (FSDOs) to accept expired flight instructor certificates and inspection authorizations for renewals from civilian and military personnel who can document their service outside of the United States.
"AOPA agrees with the FAA that it would be unfair to penalize the men and women who are serving their country in defending against terrorism," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "In 1991, AOPA advocated for similar relief during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. The relief does not have a negative impact on safety because of its limited scope and the fact that pilots will still have to meet the proficiency or experience requirements required by the regulations."
The SFAR also allow FSDOs to accept expired airman written test results from civilian and military personnel. The relief will help pilots who can't meet the regulatory time limits of their flight instructor certificate, inspection authorization, or airmen written test results solely because of their service in Operation Enduring Freedom. Many of these pilots and mechanics are serving their country at military bases that are away from their normal training or work environment, and this action is extra time to meet certain eligibility requirements in the current rules.
This is good news for the many U.S. military and civilian personnel who are serving and will serve in Operation Enduring Freedom. Due to the length of these assignments, flight instructor certificates, inspection authorizations, and airman written test reports held by these individuals may expire before they return home. If so, these individuals would then have to undergo the process of reestablishing their qualifications.
The FAA recently took similar action for 14 CFR Part 121 and Part 135 check airmen (simulator), Part 121 and Part 135 flight instructors (simulator), Part 121 aircraft dispatchers, and Part 142 training center instructors, to meet certain qualification requirements. To be eligible, the person must have served outside of the United States some time between September 11, 2001, and May 6, 2004, when the SFAR expires.