In an April 1 letter to FAA associate administrator for aviation safety Ali Bahrami, the NBAA and other general aviation groups requested exemptions and other accommodations to ensure continuity of operations and commerce during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Included requests for exemptions or deviations most applicable to NBAA members include: Extension of 14 CFR Part 61 pilot current requirements, e.g. flight review, IPC, PIC/SIC proficiency checks; extensions for certified flight instructor certificate renewal, expiration and endorsement periods; and extensions for aircraft maintenance and continuing airworthiness requirements with necessary mitigation procedures.
The group letter notes other national aviation authorities have already provided similar exemptions for commercial and noncommercial operations.
The April 1 letter highlights the important role general aviation plays in the U.S. and global economy and the significant public benefit provided by the industry. For example, general aviation contributes 1.1 million jobs and $247 billion in economic activity to the U.S. economy and is a literal lifeline to many communities, connecting more than 5,000 public airports, compared to the 500 used by scheduled airlines.
The Air Medical Operators Association, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, National Agricultural Aviation Association and National Air Transportation Association also signed the April 1 letter to Mr. Bahrami.
General aviation provides extensive air medical services, which are designated by the Department of Homeland Security's Cyber Infrastructure and Security Agency (CISA) as a critical workforce; monitors pipelines and powerlines; transports critical medical personnel; and conducts important aerial applications in agriculture and pest control programmes.
Perhaps most importantly during this crisis, general aviation airmen and aircraft conduct humanitarian flights delivering masks, ventilators and other essential items.
Prior to signing on to this most recent letter, NBAA also sought and received exemptions for certain Part 135 training requirements in March. The FAA also worked with NBAA and other groups to issue a COVID-19-driven exemption allowing pilots to continue to fly if their airmen medical certificate expires between March 31 and June 30.
“We appreciate the FAA's cooperation and efforts to provide these exemptions and exceptions, keeping business aviation flying without compromising safety or negatively impacting the national airspace system,” says Brian Koester, CAM, NBAA's director of flight operations and regulations. “Business aviation plays an important role as the nation continues its work to contain COVID-19, mitigate the devastation the virus might cause and eventually begin nationwide recovery.”