- Use of COVID-19 Vaccines by Pilots and Air Traffic Controllers
- Transporting Dry Ice
- Enforcement Discretion for Random Drug and Alcohol Testing
- Updated Health Guidance for Air Carriers and Crews
- FAA Issues Guidance about Flexibly Managing Scheduled Maintenance Requirements Due to COVID-19
- FAA Issues Guidance on Operations in Terminal Airspace
- Government publishes national strategy for air transportation system recovery
- FAA issues guidance on operations in oceanic airspace
- Updated Guidance for Airport Sponsors Considering COVID-19 Restrictions or Accommodations
- Cargo Guidance for Safety Inspectors
- FAA Issues New Cargo Transportation Guidance
- Flexible Air Traffic Control Schedule
- Guidance to FAA Inspectors
- FAA Construction Projects
- Airport Construction Projects
- Airport Improvement Program
- Aviation Maintenance Technician Schools
- COVID-19 Information
- Sharing Heath Safety Messages
- Pilot Oxygen Mask Requirements
- Expanded Drone Operations
- Puerto Rico Flight Restriction Request
- Drug and Alcohol Testing
- Guidance for States, Localities, and Territories Considering Air Transportation Restrictions
Guidance and Resources
Use of COVID-19 Vaccines by Pilots and Air Traffic Controllers
The COVID-19 public health emergency has driven extraordinary global efforts to develop an effective and safe vaccine. Some of the vaccines in clinical testing are using novel technology, such as mRNA. The vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson have been made available to the American public under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
After careful review of available data regarding safety profiles, the FAA Office of Aerospace Medicine (AAM) adopts the following policy as both safe and operationally responsive to this unique situation:
Holders of FAA-issued Airman Medical Certificates or Medical Clearances may receive the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines; however, a 48-hour no fly/no safety related duty interval must be observed after each dose.
Individuals holding an FAA-issued Airman Medical Certificate or Medical Clearance should be reminded that they are prohibited from performing flight crewmember duties or air traffic control duties if they do not meet medical certification requirements, including those related to adverse events from medications that render them unable to perform such duties.
AAM will monitor the patient response to Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines and may adjust this policy as necessary to ensure aviation safety. Additional vaccines will each be evaluated as EUAs are issued.
Transporting Dry Ice
The FAA issued a Safety Alert For Operators (SAFO) for safely transporting larger than typical quantities of dry ice to maintain cold temperatures required by some vaccines during shipment. The SAFO explains how increased volumes of dry ice, a hazardous material, can be safely managed.
Federal guidance to safely navigate all aspects of air travel during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Enforcement Discretion for Random Drug and Alcohol Testing
The FAA issued a Notice of Enforcement Discretion for Random Drug and Alcohol Testing (PDF) today to ensure employers of aviation personnel know how to meet the minimum annual random testing rates for 2020 during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Aviation employers are still required to comply with the requirements of Federal Aviation Regulation Part 120. However, the FAA is exercising its discretion not to take enforcement action against an employer who is unable to conduct random testing.
The employer must make a reasonable, good-faith effort to conduct the testing and document the reason testing could not take place, such as testing site closures, testing site restrictions that would impede efforts to meet random testing requirements, or the unavailability of testing personnel. Aviation employers also must document their actions to identify alternative testing sites or other testing resources and maintain random testing records for review by an FAA drug and alcohol compliance and enforcement inspector.
For additional information, please review the FAA's Random Drug and Alcohol Testing Program Guidance Alert (PDF) and Frequently Asked Questions.
Updated Health Guidance for Air Carriers and Crews
The FAA issued an updated Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) 20009 (PDF) that provides interim health guidance from the CDC that air carriers and crew members should be following during the COVID-19 pandemic. The update encourages crew members to get vaccinated and share their vaccination status with their employer. It also provides extensive guidance for fully vaccinated crew members, including continued health monitoring and wearing of facemasks.
FAA Issues Guidance about Flexibly Managing Scheduled Maintenance Requirements (PDF) Due to COVID-19
FAA Issues Guidance on Operations in Terminal Airspace
The FAA has issued Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) 20012 (PDF) to advise air carriers and other commercial operators on how to continue operating safely in terminal airspace when an Air Traffic Control (ATC) facility with responsibility for that airspace closes unexpectedly.
Government publishes national strategy for air transportation system recovery
The U.S. government has published a comprehensive national strategy for the recovery of the nation's air transportation system. The Runway to Recovery recognizes that a safe, secure, efficient and resilient air transportation system that addresses the threat of COVID-19 is critical to reducing the public health risk and supporting the United States’ critical infrastructure needs. The document provides guidance to airports and airlines for implementing measures to mitigate the public health risks associated with COVID-19 and prepare for an increase in travel volume, while ensuring that aviation safety and security are not compromised. It identifies measures that airports and airlines should implement across all operations and all stages of travel to, from and within the United States, along with a roadmap explaining how those measures should be adapted to the unique air travel environments.
FAA issues guidance on operations in oceanic airspace (PDF)
Updated Guidance for Airport Sponsors Considering COVID-19 Restrictions or Accommodations
The FAA has prepared guidance for airport sponsors (PDF) contemplating airport closures or restricting airport access at federally funded airports. The FAA wants airport sponsors to closely review and understand what the guidance allows them to do, what they cannot do, and what they should consider before taking any action. In any instance, the FAA must be notified and approve any airport closure.
Cargo Guidance for Safety Inspectors
The FAA has issued information and guidance for agency safety inspectors (PDF) about the carriage of cargo in the cabin of passenger-carrying planes when no passengers are on board. The agency previously issued a Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) (PDF) that provides information and recommendations for airlines to evaluate regulatory implications and safety risks when transporting only cargo inside the passenger cabin of an airplane.
FAA Issues New Cargo Transportation Guidance
The FAA has issued a Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) (PDF) that provides information and recommendations for airlines to evaluate regulatory implications and safety risks when transporting only cargo inside the passenger cabin of an airplane.
Flexible Air Traffic Control Schedule
The FAA is taking steps to limit the spread of COVID-19 in air traffic control facilities. Each air traffic control facility is establishing separate teams of controllers that will stay together throughout the duty week. Each crew will contain the same employees, limiting the possibility of cross-exposure to COVID-19 that would come through normal shift rotations. If a person on one team gets sick, the only people who would be exposed are the other people on that team. These steps, along with existing contingency plans, further enhance the resiliency of the FAA's air traffic control system.
Guidance to FAA Inspectors
The FAA issued guidance to FAA inspectors about factors to consider when determining whether to:
- Extend the certification of aircraft repair stations that are located outside the U.S.
Deviation to FAA Order 8900.1 for 14 CFR Part 145 Repair Stations (PDF)
- Extend the recurrent training due dates for designees and Flight Standards Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) members that cannot attend in-person recurrent training courses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The memorandum also authorizes Flight Standards personnel to, at their discretion and based on certain performance criteria, temporarily allow designees to continue performing their delegated activities when FAA oversight of the designees is overdue.
Flight Standards Designee Oversight and Recurrent Training Requirements (PDF)
- Allow air carrier personnel to temporarily perform flight dispatch and flight following duties from their homes on a case by case basis, provided the carrier can show this can be done safely.
Operational Control Part 121 Air Carriers (PDF)
- Allow training centers to temporarily use alternative methods to conduct certain emergency procedures that require pilots to don protective breathing equipment or oxygen masks in recurrent training, checking, or evaluation.
COVID-19 Deviation for 14 CFR Part 142 Training Center Certificate Holders (PDF)
- Authorize pilot schools to temporarily use distance learning programs or suspend operations for a period of time.
Part 141 Training Interruptions Related to COVID-19 and Applicable Deviations to Order 8900.1 (PDF)
- Allow Aircraft Dispatcher Certification Course providers to deviate from some standard practices, including instituting or expanding distance-based training for currently enrolled students and suspending course administration.
COVID-19 14 CFR Part 65 (PDF)
FAA Construction Projects
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has temporarily stopped most construction projects at agency facilities to ensure the safety of employees, contractors and the public during the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency is continuing projects that are in critical phases and would affect operations or safety if not completed. For now, the FAA is delaying the start of new projects. Design work on future projects will continue.
Airport Construction Projects
The FAA is working with airport sponsors across the country to determine the impacts COVID-19 is having on current and planned airport construction. Airport sponsors and the FAA will review all executed Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants and determine which projects are safety critical, phase of the project, estimated length of project delay, additional costs if the project is delayed, and impacts to overall airport or system operations. The FAA will identify how it may be able prioritize safety-critical projects through funding or process adjustments. The FAA and airport sponsors will work collaboratively to do whatever is reasonably possible to avoid delays in project construction and reduce the delay time when possible. Once a project is ready for construction, the airport owner is responsible for completing construction.
Airport Improvement Program
The FAA is working to ensure there are no delays awarding Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds for 2020 because of COVID-19. Employees with the FAA's Office of Airports are in constant contact with airport sponsors to award all appropriated AIP funds by September 30, 2020. The FAA has worked to automate the AIP process, which enables employees to work remotely and continue to process AIP grants under the current circumstances.
Aviation Maintenance Technician Schools
The FAA is working with staff and students at Aviation Maintenance Technician Schools (AMTS) to allow greater flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic. The FAA's guidance to AMTS allows deviations from FAA policy on class schedules, electronic delivery of assignments, and the maximum number of absences. Each AMTS school is affected differently, and the FAA is addressing any deviation from policy or regulation on a case-by-case basis.
Sharing Heath Safety Messages
The FAA is amplifying health safety messages from other federal agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Federal Management Agency, Department of State and Department of Homeland Security.
Pilot Oxygen Mask Requirements
The FAA has amended its cockpit oxygen-mask regulation to reduce the potential for pilots to be exposed to any pathogens that may be on the masks. The amendment fulfills the requirement of Section 579 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.
Expanded Drone Operations
The FAA has received inquiries about expanded drone operations to respond to COVID-19. We are addressing the inquiries using our existing Part 135 on-demand certification process. Follow us on Twitter @FAADroneZone and Facebook @FAADroneZone for the latest drone news.
Puerto Rico Flight Restriction Request
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved certain requirements for passenger flights to Puerto Rico to help with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. All scheduled and unscheduled commercial air carrier flights will be required to land at Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (SJU) where public health officials will screen arriving passengers. This includes air carriers that operate under Part 121 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. All domestic and foreign general aviation and charter flights arriving from a location outside Puerto Rico will be required to land first at SJU, Isla Grande Airport (SIG) or Rafael Hernandez Airport (BQN) in Aguadilla for passenger screening before continuing to their final destinations. The restrictions do not apply to air cargo or maintenance flights into Puerto Rico.
Drug and Alcohol Testing
Guidance for States, Localities, and Territories Considering Air Transportation Restrictions
The FAA has prepared guidance for states, localities, and territories (PDF) that have implemented or may consider implementing quarantine, travel restrictions, and screening requirements on individuals entering from certain locations within the United States and territories. The guidance states there should be coordination with aviation stakeholders 48 hours before a restriction is imposed; air transportation workers, federal aviation and security personnel are exempt from any restrictions; and no measure can be taken to close a federally funded airport without FAA approval.