Published in midwestflyer.com – March 27, 2020
WASHINGTON, DC (March 27, 2020) – The FAA took decisive action on March 26 to protect pilots whose livelihoods faced further disruption, in the form of expiring certifications, during the global coronavirus pandemic. AOPA wholeheartedly applauded that decision.
As COVID-19 spreads through the population, AOPA called on the FAA to provide relief from looming deadlines for a range of time-critical tasks, including pilot certification, proficiency requirements, and knowledge test expirations.
The FAA responded to that urgent appeal with a notice of enforcement policy issued March 26 that suspends enforcement of airman medical certificate expirations:
“The Notice states that from March 31, 2020 to June 30, 2020, the FAA will not take legal enforcement action against any person serving as a required pilot flight crewmember or flight engineer who holds a medical certificate that expires within this time period,” FAA staff told AOPA leaders in an email that arrived March 26 with the new policy attached, ahead of its publication in the Federal Register. “This action allows medical resources (such as doctors appointed by the FAA as Aviation Medical Examiners) to be utilized where they are needed the most during this unprecedented situation, as well as lowers the risk of transmission of the virus during these aviation medical examinations that would otherwise take place. With this action, the FAA is exercising our enforcement discretion while still maintaining the highest levels of aviation safety in the National Airspace System.”
The decision on enforcement of medical certification deadlines sets the stage for similar actions addressing related concerns that AOPA President Mark Baker raised in a March 17 letter to FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, including the looming expiration of pilot certification examinations based on regulatory timelines that predate the pandemic, and completion of knowledge tests administered by FAA provider PSI, which has shut down its owned and operated testing centers as part of a collective effort to slow the spread of the disease. (Some third-party test administrators remain open, so pilots should call ahead if they have tests scheduled.)
AOPA’s Pilot Information Center staff is standing by to answer questions that are likely to arise in light of the FAA policy decision, based on each member’s individual circumstances. Members can reach AOPA staff online, or by phone at 800-USA-AOPA (872-2672) Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time.