Pandemic relief scaled back in latest SFAR amendment

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The new SFAR amendment that took effect October 1 and was scheduled for Federal Register publication on October 6 reflects the agency’s conclusion that “aviation activity continues to increase, and the industry is beginning to address the backlog of required training, checking and testing requirements. However, many of the challenges that existed when the FAA first issued the SFAR in April remain today as the public health emergency continues,” the FAA said on its website.

The SFAR amendment eliminates the expanded instrument currency “lookback” period previously allowed for pilots who met certain operational requirements, and no new relief was provided for flight instructors with certificates nearing expiration.

“Although we sought continued relief for instrument currency and flight instructor certificates, we appreciate the FAA’s continued extensions of validity for medical certificates and knowledge tests. The FAA’s recognition of the importance of general aviation during COVID-19 restrictions and the increased infection rates across the country has allowed aircraft owners and operators the flexibility to continue to fly safely,” said Christopher Cooper, AOPA senior director of regulatory affairs. To help pilots track their compliance responsibilities during the pandemic, the FAA provided a table comparing their status under the original SFAR, amendment SFAR 118-1, and the latest amendment SFAR 118-2. AOPA encourages pilots to review it carefully before conducting flight operations.

According to the table, SFAR 118-2 grants pilots with flight reviews coming due between October 2020 and January 2021 a two-month grace period to complete their flight reviews, subject to eligibility and operational criteria. (For example, a pilot whose flight review ordinarily would be due in October 2020 would have until December 31, 2020, to complete it.) Note that the two-month grace period differs from the three-month grace periods the original SFAR and SFAR 118-1 had afforded earlier in the year.

SFAR 118-2 requires instrument pilots to follow the customary instrument experience requirements of FAR 61.57(c) to determine whether they may act as pilot in command under IFR or weather conditions less than the minimums prescribed for VFR. Previously, SFAR provisions allowed a nine-month “lookback” period, instead of six months, for determining their status.

The validity of medical certificates expiring between October 2020 and January 2021 is extended by two calendar months. Note that this provision is a shorter extension of validity than was available under previous SFAR provisions amending FAR 61.23. However, a three-month validity extension is provided for the medical certificates of

This post was originally published by AOPA on . Please visit the original post to read the complete article.

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