FAA To Extend Pandemic SFAR Beyond June 30

Published in Midwest Flyer – August/September 2020 issue

The FAA has a rule in the works to extend for a second time airman medical certificates that expired during the coronavirus pandemic and then had their expiration dates extended to June 30, 2020 under a special federal aviation regulation (SFAR) issued in April.

FAA Deputy Administrator Daniel Elwell announced that development June 18 during an online General Aviation Safety Town Hall meeting on which AOPA President Mark Baker served as a panelist. Baker noted that action on the SFAR was GA pilots’ “number one issue” as the aviation sector adjusts to the unique challenges posed by the pandemic.

Baker added that interest is also running high among pilots working to stay safe and proficient, with many using AOPA’s online educational materials to keep sharp during the crisis.

Elwell said he expected to offer “a more firm response” about the FAA’s plans for an SFAR extension soon. He voiced the FAA’s concerns about how to eventually “unravel” the SFAR and its workarounds for regulations governing pilot proficiency, training, and medical certification.

The panel, “Pandemic Impacts – Today and Into The Future,” was moderated by Elwell, and included Baker, Experimental Aircraft Association CEO Jack Pelton, Jet Aviation Vice President of Flight Services David Dalpiaz, and Air Methods CEO JaeLynn Williams.

Operations at major airports were down 92 percent between March and June, lending credibility to flight-tracking data showing that Cessna 172s frequently outnumbered the number of Boeing 737s in the air (AOPA).

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