The National Air Transportation Association has applauded a comprehensive Federal Aviation Administration rulemaking package in the form of a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR), addressing a number of its requests for provisions to allow aviation businesses to continue to operate during COVID-19.
“We were pleased to see the release of this SFAR in recognition of operational challenges during this crisis and appreciate that the FAA listened to NATA and the industry in providing this relief,” states NATA vice president of regulatory affairs John McGraw. “NATA and our members would like to acknowledge the amazing work of the FAA in issuing a rulemaking of this scale in such a short amount of time. We will continue to work with the FAA to communicate the needs of our members now, in the coming days as new challenges are identified and in the future when restrictions begin to be lifted."
According to the FAA, “this Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) provides regulatory relief to persons who have been unable to comply with certain training, recent experience, testing, and checking requirements due to the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. This relief allows operators to continue to use pilots and other crewmembers in support of essential operations during this period. Additionally, this SFAR provides regulatory relief to certain persons and pilot schools unable to meet duration and renewal requirements due to the outbreak. This rule also allows certain air carriers and operators to fly temporary overflow aircraft, a need resulting from the outbreak, to a point of storage pursuant to a special flight permit with a continuing authorisation."
NATA will follow up with its members on specifics of the SFAR that apply to their operations.
NBAA has also welcomed the approval on regulatory changes to pilot medical certifications, training proficiency and a host of other pressing requirements for business aviation amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
NBAA has continually advocated for the accommodations to address the dramatically changing circumstances presented by the COVID-19 crisis. Many business aviation pilots and operators are facing the expiration of training and proficiency requirements, medical certifications and more, with no safe or practical means of renewing those certifications in light of stay-at-home orders prohibiting nonessential activities and social-distancing guidance.
“We are grateful to FAA administrator Dickson and his team for hearing and acting on NBAA's request that the agency make this much-needed relief for pilots and operations a top priority,” says NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “In particular, we appreciate the efforts made by associate administrator for aviation safety Ali Bahrami. The important actions taken on these matters preserves aviation safety, while thoughtfully and appropriately responding to the unprecedented times caused by the COVID-19 crisis.”
The FAA addressed NBAA's requests for extensions or exemptions on pilot training and medicals, and a number of other matters, in a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) expected to be made public today. The SFAR serves as a direct, final rule providing relief for a number of regulatory requirements, including certain flight reviews, crew requirements and provisions addressing large aircraft and unmanned aircraft systems, among others.
Once published, NBAA will provide details about the SFAR's implementation date and other aspects of the relief package. Additionally, the association plans an upcoming NBAA News Hour webinar to go through the SFAR's particulars.
NBAA and other groups recently sent a letter to Bahrami emphasising the need for the changes approved by the agency today. The joint industry letter notes the benefit of general aviation (GA) to the public, emphasising its role in humanitarian efforts responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and other services.
The concerns outlined in the groups' letter were reflected in a separate letter sent to the FAA by the bipartisan Congressional General Aviation Caucus, which also noted the critical role all of general aviation, including business aviation, in the nation's economy and transportation system.
The relief package expected to be released by the FAA today is consistent with actions taken by aviation regulatory authorities around the world, including the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority (UK CAA) and others.
Dickson previewed his intention to approve the SFAR today, during comments he made this morning as part of a “fireside chat” opening address at the start of the 2020 Business Aviation Safety Summit (BASS), jointly sponsored by NBAA and the Flight Safety Foundation.
In his remarks, Dickson noted that this latest relief package comes on the heels of other provisions granted by the agency at the request of NBAA and other groups, including a series of extensions allowing Part 135 operators to temporarily forgo certain training requirements related to crew safety concerns with COVID-19, and allowing certain Part 135 personnel up to three additional months to complete recurrent and upgrade training and qualification activities.