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FAA Introduces Further Relief Through SFAR Extension

October 1, 2020 – On October 1, the FAA published a second extension of Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) 118, a collection of rule modifications that provide some relief to pilots from training, checking, and currency requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of most relevance to the personal aviation community, the FAA once again provided a rolling extension for medical certificates, though the agency reduced the grace period to two months from the previous three (except in Alaska). Those pilots operating in Alaska received a three-month extension, in recognition of the sparse availability of AMEs in some parts of the state. Under the amended SFAR, individuals with medicals expiring between October and January will have an additional two months of eligibility to fly.

EAA pushed for this relief, given the ongoing difficulties with scheduling AMEs as well as the specialists and tests required to maintain medical certificates with certain conditions.

Students whose knowledge test validity expires between October and January also receive a two-month extension, a limited continuation of similar relief in prior iterations of the SFAR. While the flight training industry has been recovering well, the FAA acknowledges that many lapses in training schedules have occurred throughout the pandemic and is providing flexibility to those affected.

Flight review grace periods for commercial pilots and private pilots in limited circumstances (such as medical relief flights or flights for essential supplies in remote areas) were given continued extensions, again on a two-month basis for reviews expiring between October and January. Instrument currency grace periods were not extended.

While the SFAR remains intended for temporary relief, EAA will continue to advocate for additional extensions as needed, as well as working to ensure the FAA is able to perform its essential functions during this time.

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