Last week, NAAA signed on to a letter with six other aviation associations requesting a third extension to SFAR 118. This special regulation provided relief to affected pilots, aircraft owners and operators to safely continue their important role to the U.S. and worldwide economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. SFAR 118 was first issued at the end of April 2020. It has been extended twice since then, with the most recent extension expiring at the end of January.
Each of the extensions covered slightly different provisions of the FARs for different amounts of time. The last extension expiring this month provides a two-month grace period added to medical certification and pilot flight reviews. It is important to note that the extensions were not cumulative. Certifications still expire, but either two or three months after the original expiration date.
An industry survey NAAA conducted in September 2020 showed that 10% of our members still had trouble getting their medical exam due to the pandemic.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s regulatory relief expired Dec. 31, 2020. This agency has not indicated yet if it intends to provide further extensions.
NAAA was one of the first entities to push for regulatory relief and ensured that agricultural aviation was considered an essential service since the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown effects last March. This “essential” designation has kept the industry working and will continue to be beneficial as the vaccination stage begins now in 2021.
Pilots are allowed to take either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine with no effect to their medical certificate as long as they do not fly for 48 hours after the dose. As an essential service, ag aviation pilots, operators and other workers should have access to the vaccine after frontline health care workers and vulnerable populations are vaccinated. Different states treat this differently. Click here to find a link to your state’s plan.