The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has pilots looking for guidance on an array of necessary extensions, certifications, and compliance. While much remains uncertain, AOPA and industry organizations are pleased that the FAA is moving toward issuing a special federal aviation regulation (SFAR) to alleviate the situation.
In times of crisis, an SFAR is typically used as a temporary rule to address a situation listed at the beginning of the most relevant existing regulation. AOPA and its partner organizations have been calling on the FAA to take this necessary action since the health crisis began to disrupt normal operations.
The agency’s decision to develop an SFAR comes shortly after industry groups rallied together and highlighted the importance of GA to the U.S. economy, which supports 1.1 million jobs and contributes some $247 billion to economic output. Additionally, the GA sector benefits thousands of communities through its more than 5,000 public airports across the country, easily earning a designation as a public good.
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve seen many instances of GA stepping up by manufacturing supplies and transporting much-needed medical resources and personnel. Piper Aircraft and Textron Aviation are producing face shields while avionics manufacturer Appareo is manufacturing a robotic ventilator. And in Michigan, pilots have devised a plan to manufacture and deliver face shields to front-line medical professionals—just a few examples of GA’s contributions in the face of this national emergency.
The FAA intends to use the GA industry’s April 1 letter as a baseline for what will be included in the upcoming SFAR. In the meantime, the FAA is using a non-enforcement policy for expiring medicals between March 31 and June 30.