No. 1 Certain relief in the SFAR only applies to certain operations. The areas of relief including Relief from Certain Training, Recency, Testing, and Checking Requirements are only applicable as follows:
- Applicable to any operation that requires the pilot hold at least a commercial pilot certificate.
- Applicable to some operations conducted by private pilots, provided the pilot has at least 500 hours of total time (at least 400 as PIC with 50 accrued in the last 12 months).
- Applicable to charitable medical flights, in compliance with the exemption required.
- Applicable to flight attendants, crewmembers, check pilots, and flight instructors under part 91 (subpart K) and part 125.
- Applicable to remote pilot certificate holders under Part 107.
Importantly, some of these relief provisions do not apply to all private pilot operations under Part 91 or specifically to commercial flights under part 135. AOPA has several “flow charts” available to help understand what relief applies to which pilots and under which flight operations: https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/2020/may/06/urgent-read-this-before-flying
No. 2 Many SFAR extensions are limited to a three-month grace period. Although the SFAR itself remains in place through 2021, much of the relief granted only applies to items that expire before June 2020, and then the SFAR generally grants only a three (3) month grace period.
- Flight review relief (§61.56) – The FAA is extending the 24-calendar month requirement by up to three calendar months (for pilots due for a flight review in March 2020 – June 2020); Pilots must still log 10 hours of PIC time in the 12-calendar month period preceding flight review due date, and need to complete FAA Safety Team courses with 3 WINGS credits.
- Instrument recency relief – Pilots will have an additional three calendar months to meet required experience with a view-limiting device and safety pilot or training device. If the pilot does not meet the requirements in the additional three months extended, the pilot must complete an instrument proficiency check again. Also, the pilot must have logged, in the preceding six calendar months, three instrument approaches in actual weather conditions, or under simulated conditions using a view-limiting device. Importantly, this extension must be exercised on or before June 30, 2020.
- Renewal for CFIs (§61.197) – CFIs may take advantage of the option to renew their flight instructor certificates by satisfactorily completing an online FIRC or completing the requirements of §61.197(a)(2)(i) – (iv). Alternatively, for those certificates expiring March 31, 2020 – May 31, 2020, the FAA is extending their validity until June 30, 2020. Also, importantly, the renewed date will “relate back” to the original expiration date, regardless if the CFI took advantage of the extended time through June 30, 2020.
- Expiration of FAA knowledge test before Practical Test (§61.39) – For those whose FAA knowledge test would expire before their ability to take a practical test (check-ride), the FAA is extending the validity of such knowledge tests for three calendar months. i.e. if the FAA knowledge test would expire between 3/2020 and 6/2020, the applicant will still have an additional three months from its expiration to complete their check-ride.
No. 3 Part 61 relief for medical certificates is available to all with restrictions.
Part 61–Medical certificates: The FAA’s 4/1/2020 notice informed the public that the FAA would not take legal enforcement action against persons serving as a required pilot flight crewmember or flight engineer based on noncompliance with the medical certificate requirements. This relief is expanded to all pilots in all operations subject to §61.2, §61.23 and §63.3. Importantly, this relief only applies to medical certificates that expired or will expire between March 31 and May 31, 2020. The FAA is extending validity of those certificates through June 30, 2020. (Compare to above – this relief does not provide an automatic three-month extension from the date of expiration beyond June 30, 2020.)
However, the SFAR does not apply to extend the prohibition on operations during any medical deficiency- i.e. no person may act as a required pilot flight crewmember while s/he knows or has reason to know of any medical condition that would make the person unable to meet the requirements of a medical certificate OR is taking medication or receiving treatment for a condition that results in the person being unable to meet the medical certificate requirements.
If you have any questions about what parts of the SFAR apply to you or your operations, please contact CSH Law’s Aviation Law practice group.