March 27, 2020
The FAA is allowing pilots to continue to fly if their airmen medical certificates expire between March 31 and June 30 to reduce the burden on the country’s healthcare system during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and limit the potential spread of the virus across the pilot community.
This temporary exemption applies to all pilot flight crewmembers and flight engineers who lose their medical certificate solely because it expires between March 31 and June 30. Pilots and flight engineers holding an unexpired medical certificate before March 31 are not exempted and all standard prohibitions for medical deficiency still apply.
“The FAA has determined that those persons subject to this temporary measure may operate beyond the validity period of their medical certificate during the effective period of this accommodation without creating a risk to aviation safety,” says the agency in its notice.
“It is not in the public interest at this time to maintain the requirement of an FAA medical examination, which is a non-emergency medical service, in order for pilots and flight engineers with expiring medical certificates to obtain new medical certificates,” the FAA adds.
“NBAA is grateful to the FAA for working with us to keep the country’s medical resources focused where they are most needed and ensure that business aviation can keep providing essential humanitarian services without any negative effect to the safety of pilots or the National Airspace System,” said NBAA Director, Flight Operations and Regulations Brian Koester, CAM.
“Many pilots are facing difficulty renewing their medical certificates as medical facilities are reducing or eliminating non-essential visits, and the risk of pilots contracting and spreading COVID-19 is growing daily, especially for those in the pilot community who are at higher risk from this pandemic,” said Koester. “We commend the FAA for recognizing that this unprecedented situation required prompt and decisive action and we recommend operators contact their insurance underwriter to ensure coverage before flying under this provision,”.
The FAA said it will reevaluate its temporary exemption as circumstances unfold and may determine that an extension or other action is required.