Jan. 20, 2021
NBAA and a coalition of leading aviation groups are urging the FAA to extend a relief program helping general aviation play a valuable role in bolstering the economy and battling the pandemic.
Earlier this month, NBAA signed onto a letter requesting that Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) 118, which provides exemptions for FAA certificate holders facing expiration of proficiency or medical requirements, be extended two months beyond its current Jan. 31, 2021, expiration date.
Since becoming effective on April 30, 2020, SFAR 118 has helped pilots continue to fly while mitigating their risk of COVID-19 transmission. This has enabled the aviation industry to maintain its critical functions in the country’s transportation infrastructure, including quick deliveries of medical supplies and vaccines.
However, the FAA’s language in its most recent response indicated that the current extension will be the final one, said NBAA Director, Flight Operations and Regulations Brian Koester, CAM.
“Provided the unique ability to move supplies and equipment on-demand, we know how important general aviation is to the economy and the nation at this time,” said Koester. “Despite the note in the previous revision, we thought it important to ask for another extension given the escalating state of the pandemic, the more contagious UK strain of the virus, and renewed travel restrictions.”
The letter includes feedback from a December 2020 industry survey showing that about 20% of U.S. general aviation pilots have utilized SFAR 118. With nearly a third of respondents reporting negative economic impacts because of COVID-19 restrictions, SFAR 118 has received widespread approval for giving operators flexibility for maintaining currency and medicals while minimizing unnecessary health risks.
The request to the FAA asks for an extension of these relief options through March 2021, which would align with the duration of regulatory relief recently granted to air carriers.