Feb. 2, 2021

The FAA has advised NBAA and other stakeholders that the agency will not extend relief granted through several exemptions contained in Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) 118-2 (Relief for Certain Persons and Operations during the Coronavirus Disease 2019).

Without further action, SFAR 118-2 will expire on April 30, 2021.

The special regulation – for which NBAA advocated, and won repeated renewals – provides short-term extensions to certain training and proficiency requirements, medical certifications and other mandates, including special flight permits for moving aircraft to storage. NBAA and other industry groups recently requested the extension of SFAR 118-2 in a letter to Associate Administration for Aviation Safety Ali Bahrami.

Rick Domingo, executive director of flight standards service at the FAA, denied the request, citing an increase of aviation activity and availability of personnel to complete training and check activities. However, he said the FAA will continue to monitor operational disruptions caused by COVID-related restrictions, indicating the agency could consider further relief if necessary.

“NBAA is disappointed in the FAA’s decision not to extend SFAR 118-2 as members continue to report challenges in safely conducting training and checking events and securing checkrides from FAA or contract check airman,” said Brian Koester, CAM, NBAA director of flight operations and regulations. “However, we’re grateful to the agency for its cooperation in managing the COVID crisis to this point. The exemptions that were previously granted allowed the business aviation industry to be an integral part in COVID-19 response, including transportation of test kits, vaccines and personnel.”

SFAR 118 became effective on April 30, 2020, and was extended twice.

“Operators and pilots need to start planning now to be sure training, qualifications, currency and medical requirements are met prior to the SFAR’s expiration,” said Koester. “Although the FAA has indicated the agency would consider additional action in this area if conditions related to COVID worsen, operators and pilots should assume the SFAR’s temporary relief will end on April 30, with many provisions already expired.”