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New SFAR keeps most of original pandemic relief

Instructor certificates are an exception

Editor's note: An amended SFAR that took effect October 1 superseded the provisions of the SFAR described in this story. See this report for details.

Pilot medical certificates expiring between April 30 and September 30, 2020, will now have a three-month extension after their expiration month under an updated coronavirus-pandemic special federal aviation regulation the FAA published June 29.

Photo by Mike Fizer.

Here’s how the new medical extensions will work: They do not give those pilots whose medicals originally expired in March any extra time beyond June 30. Pilots whose medicals would expire at month’s end of April, May, June, July, August, and September all can add three calendar months to their medical certificates’ validity, in all medical classes (not BasicMed).

The new SFAR makes clear that other than relief for medical certificate duration, “the relief in this final rule applies to a new population” of pilots “and does not extend the relief provided in the original” SFAR.

September is the new cutoff of eligibility for time extensions in the updated SFAR for flight reviews, instrument currency, remote pilot aeronautical knowledge recency, and pilot knowledge exams.

The applicability and operational conditions that limited pilots' eligibility for some of the SFAR provisions, such as additional time to establish instrument proficiency, remain in force, with only the months of eligibility changing, said Christopher Cooper, AOPA director of regulatory affairs.

June 30 remains a hard deadline for some pilots who benefited from the original SFAR, such as flight instructors. Those whose certificates were to expire from March to May 2020 still have until June 30 to renew without having to take a practical test. June 30 remains the last date before expiration of those instructors' certificates, Cooper said.

AOPA appreciates the hard work the FAA put into addressing many of general aviation’s most critical needs requested by AOPA and six other organizations in a May 29 letter to the FAA’s associate administrator for aviation safety, he said.

As June 30 approached with many SFAR relief provisions nearing their end dates, the SFAR update was awaited with great interest in the GA community. On June 18, FAA Deputy Administrator Daniel Elwell hinted at developments, noting that the update was in the works and emphasizing its medical provisions.

Dan Namowitz
Dan Namowitz
Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 35-year AOPA member.
Topics: Advocacy, COVID19, Pilot Regulation

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