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AOPA Action: Flying amid COVID-19AOPA Action: Flying amid COVID-19

AOPA publishes state-by-state guide for pilots

Many pilots have been grounded and are unsure of how to navigate the latest requirements for general aviation flying while under mandatory stay-at-home orders and other restrictions in several states and territories.

To help alleviate some of the burdensome research pilots might be forced to do to understand if they can continue flying in their state, AOPA published a state-by-state guide on COVID-19 directives. To access the guide, users will need to log in or create a free account.

The FAA is requiring airports that receive federal grants to remain open, unless they have obtained specific FAA approval to close. With few exceptions, airports have remained open, but that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone can continue flying.

State governors have issued multiple executive orders to protect residents during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, all of which include following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for social distancing. However, finding out whether you can still fly is not always simple.

The online guide includes links to relevant executive orders issued by each governor, along with any supplemental guidance issued by the state department of transportation or aviation, answers to commonly asked questions, contact information for relevant government offices, and helpful reminders about checking notams and calling airport managers to confirm availability of services.

If pilots are unable to find what they are looking for in the state-by-state guide, AOPA recommends that they contact their airport and their state transportation or aviation department for clarification. Pilots can also call or message the AOPA Pilot Information Center at 800-USA-AOPA (800-872-2672) for assistance, but AOPA staff cannot provide legal interpretation or opinions of state executive orders. If required, pilots should contact an aviation attorney licensed to practice law in that state to get a legal interpretation or opinion about how the stay-at-home order affects their planned flight (see “Member News and Notes: You’ve Got a Lawyer,” p. 100).

Pilots also should be aware that the FAA has announced temporary adjustments to the operating hours of approximately 100 control towers nationwide at facilities that have seen a significant reduction in flights since the pandemic began.

Protecting GPS

AOPA has long opposed any network plan that could threaten GPS reception until technical issues are satisfactorily resolved. The Federal Communications Commission’s approval of a 5G wireless network that critics say could overpower GPS signals on adjacent frequencies came in for sharp scrutiny in a hearing held by the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee recently. Committee Chairman Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said his committee’s focus was to spotlight the national security implications of the network proposal being advanced by Reston, Virginia-based Ligado Networks. Ligado is proposing a terrestrial wireless network that would mostly support “internet of things” service as the successor of LightSquared, a venture that went bankrupt in 2012 while pursuing network approval in the face of strong resistance—especially from the aviation sector. AOPA is monitoring the issue.

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