Regulatory Updates due to Coronavirus
- Extension of Minimum Slot Usage Requirements
- FAA Amends Cargo Exemptions
- Extended Air Carrier Training Exemptions
- Clarifying information for Airmen Using Medical Certificate Duration Relief
- Second Amendment to Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) 118
- Amendment of Air Carrier Training Exemptions
- FAA Extends Flight Attendant Exemption
- FAA Amends Exemption for Certain Air Ambulance Personnel
- FAA Issues New Cargo Exemption, Amends Existing Cargo Exemption
- Amendment to Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) 118
- Updated CARES Act FAQs
- Exemption for Transporting Cargo on Airplane Seats
- Exemption for Certain Air Ambulance Personnel
- Relief for Certain Persons and Operations during the COVID-19 Outbreak
- Temporary Control Tower Hour Adjustments
- FAA extends AIP Application Deadlines
- Drone Use for Response Efforts
- Flight Attendant Exemption
- Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Airport Program
- FAA Announces Additional Pilot Medical Certificate Exemptions
- Air Carrier Training Exemptions
- Pilot Medical Certificates
- Airport Slot-Use Waivers
- Temporary Parking of Overflow Aircraft
- Airport Certification Safety Inspections
The FAA issued an extension of limited waiver (PDF) through October 29, 2022 of the minimum-slot-usage requirement for international operations at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), LaGuardia Airport (LGA), and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). Additionally, the FAA extended through October 29, 2022, our COVID-19-related policy for prioritizing flights canceled at designated International Air Transport Association (IATA) Level 2 airports in the United States, for purposes of establishing a carrier's operational baseline in the next corresponding season. This also applies to international operations only.
The FAA amended an exemption authorizing airlines to transport cargo that is secured to the seat tracks (PDF) of a passenger aircraft when seats are removed and no passengers are in the cabin. This amendment extends the exemption through December 31, 2021.
The FAA also amended an exemption that allows airlines to secure cargo to passenger seats (PDF) when no passengers are in the cabin. The amendment extends the exemption through December 31, 2021.
The FAA is extending through March 31, 2021 two regulatory exemptions (18509, 18512) it previously issued to scheduled and on-demand U.S. air carriers. The exemptions give crewmembers relief from having to don protective breathing equipment or oxygen masks in training, checking, or evaluation. They originally were going to expire on Nov. 30, 2020. Crew members that have previously used relief under this exemption cannot use the relief again.
The FAA updated the Q&A section (PDF) of the Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) to address the issue of airman using medical certificate duration relief on multiple occasions.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a final rule on September 30, 2020 that further amends Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) 118. Aviation activity continues to increase, and the industry is beginning to address the backlog of required training, checking, and testing requirements. However, many of the challenges that existed when the FAA first issued the SFAR in April remain today as the public health emergency continues. SFAR 118-2 is effective on October 1, 2020, and is available for public display in the Federal Register. It will publish on October 6, 2020.
The chart contained within this final rule provides a summary of each affected regulation; the original SFAR relief provided on April 29, 2020; the amended SFAR relief from June 25, 2020; and the second amended relief provided in this SFAR update. Those who may be affected by this amendment should carefully review the eligibility, conditions and duration of each section of relief to ensure compliance. The FAA has revised the FAQs (PDF) to help explain the amended regulatory relief.
The FAA is amending two regulatory exemptions it previously issued to scheduled and on-demand U.S. air carriers. The agency is amending exemptions 18510 (PDF) and 18511 (PDF), which give personnel grace periods for completing certain training and qualification requirements due through Dec. 31, 2020. The agency previously amended through Nov. 30, 2020 exemptions 18509 and 18512, which give crewmembers relief from having to don protective breathing equipment or oxygen masks in training, checking, or evaluation. The amendments do not expand relief that the original exemptions and previous amendments provided. The new amendments extend the same relief to the next population of crewmembers who will become due in the approaching months.
The FAA is amending through Jan. 31, 2021 an exemption the agency previously issued to help protect flight attendants (PDF) from contracting COVID-19. The exemption allows flight attendants to relocate from the seats they would normally occupy so they can observe social distancing. It also excuses them from having to demonstrate the use of certain emergency equipment including life preservers and oxygen masks, allowing for alternative methods to inform passengers regarding the use of such equipment. Individual carriers must submit a Letter of Intent and be granted authorization by FAA in order to exercise the relief in the exemption.
To ensure the continuity of air ambulance operations, the FAA is amending an exemption (PDF) to the timeframes for completing recurrent training and testing requirements for certain air ambulance personnel. The amendment does not expand upon the relief the FAA already provided for personnel with training and testing requirements due through July 31, 2020. Rather, it provides the same relief to a new group of air personnel with training and qualification requirements due in August and September, 2020. Operators must fulfill specific requirements to exercise the relief offered in this exemption.
The FAA issued a new exemption authorizing airlines to transport cargo that is secured to the seat tracks (PDF) of a passenger aircraft when seats are removed and no passengers are in the cabin. This exemption is valid through July 10, 2021.
The FAA also amended a previously issued exemption (PDF) that allows airlines to secure cargo to passenger seats when no passengers are in the cabin. The amendment provides additional crew training details and extends the exemption through July 10, 2021.
The FAA has issued an amendment to Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) 118. The amendment recognizes that even as stay-at-home advisories are lifted, airmen continue to experience difficulty complying with certain training, recency, checking, testing and duration requirements. The amendment extends some medical certificate relief that the original SFAR provided and expands medical relief to people whose certificates will expire in the coming months. It also expands relief to a new population of airmen who may be unable to satisfy training and qualification requirements due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency. Those who may be affected by this amendment should carefully review the eligibility, conditions and duration of each section of relief to ensure compliance. The FAA has revised the FAQs (PDF) to help explain the amended regulatory relief.
The FAA has updated our frequently asked questions about the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (PDF).
The FAA issued an exemption that allows U.S. airlines to carry cargo on seats in airplane cabins when no passengers are being transported. The FAA determined the exemption would reduce the chance that movement of critical cargo would be interrupted as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency. To exercise the exemption, airlines must submit a letter of intent and receive specific authorization from FAA, and observe a number of conditions and limitations. The exemption is effective through Dec. 31, 2020.
To ensure the continuity of air ambulance operations, FAA is granting an exemption to the timeframes (PDF) for completing recurrent training and testing requirements for certain air ambulance personnel. Operators must fulfill specific requirements to exercise the relief offered in this exemption.
The FAA has published a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) that provides regulatory relief to a wide range of people and operations affected by the COVID-19 public health emergency. The relief applies to pilots, crew members and other FAA certificate holders including some drone pilots who have been unable to comply with certain training, recency-of-experience, testing, and checking requirements due to the outbreak. It also provides relief to certain people and pilot schools who are unable to meet duration and renewal requirements, including extending the validity period of FAA medical certificates. FAA has developed FAQs (PDF) to help explain the regulatory relief.
To ensure the continued resiliency of the air traffic control system amid the COVID-19 pandemic, FAA is planning to temporarily adjust the operating hours of approximately 100 control towers nationwide (PDF). Making these adjustments allows for continued safe operations throughout the national airspace system while minimizing health risks to our workforce. The FAA plans to begin making control tower hour adjustments on Monday, April 27 and complete the process within about a week.
These facilities have seen a significant reduction in flights, especially during the evening and nighttime hours, since the pandemic began. Adjusting the operating hours will further protect our employees and reduce the possibility of temporary tower closures from COVID-19 exposures by ensuring enough controllers are available to staff the facilities during peak hours. It also will enable us to allocate difficult-to-source supplies where they are most needed.
Most of the towers are historically closed at night, during which time the radar facility with oversight assumes the airspace. The FAA expects the adjustments will not have any operational effects. The agency plans to begin adjusting facility hours later this month.
The FAA will continue to monitor traffic volume at all of these facilities and may make future adjustments to operating hours as appropriate.
The FAA previously took steps to limit the spread of COVID-19 in air traffic control facilities by establishing separate teams of controllers that stay together throughout the duty week.
Q1: How did FAA decide on these operating hour adjustments?
A: The FAA has seen a significant reduction in traffic at these facilities and reviewed a number of factors to determine where adjustments were most appropriate and could be implemented while maintaining safe and efficient operations. Criteria considered included: hourly aircraft counts and safety during non-towered times; air carrier, air taxi, and special operations; ability of the workforce to social distance and reduce exposure; savings of supplies; and infrastructure constraints. The FAA will coordinate with stakeholders before making any final decisions.
Q2: What is the criteria to return to normal hours or how will you decide to restore the hours at these towers?
A: The FAA will continually assess the operating environment throughout the National Airspace System (NAS). The FAA will ensure there is adequate staffing to meet traffic needs. As operational traffic counts and our resource factors associated with COVID-19 change, FAA will make appropriate adjustments consistent with the agency's mandate to operate the NAS safely and efficiently.
Q3: Is it possible that some of these locations will continue on adjusted hours permanently?
A: Temporary adjustments to operating hours during this COVID-19 public health emergency are not intended to be made permanent.
Q4: How will DOD/National Guard, medevac, or other specialized flights operate in these circumstances?
A: The FAA considered known special operations in selecting locations for operating hour adjustments. FAA facility operating schedules have always varied throughout the NAS. During the hours that a control tower is closed, DOD, National Guard, and other aircraft will receive services by the overlying radar facility as they do today according to existing FAA procedures. The FAA will continue to facilitate these special operations and will meet the needs of these operators.
Q5: How are you ensuring the highest levels of safety continue?
A: The FAA is working collaboratively with the aviation industry to ensure the highest levels of safety continue where the agency adjusts facility operating hours. The FAA's safety tools and programs are fully operational and are continually monitoring the NAS. Additionally, we are working with each airport sponsor to understand and evaluate any consequences. The FAA will continue open communication and outreach with industry at all levels to ensure safety remains everyone's priority.
The COVID-19 public health emergency has affected airport sponsors’ operations and ability to meet the original 2020 Airport Improvement Program (AIP) deadlines. Therefore, FAA has extended deadlines to May 4, 2020 to give notice of intent, and to Monday, June 15, 2020 to submit the final grant application. The full notice is available in the federal register (PDF).
The FAA is enabling drone use for COVID-19 response efforts within our existing regulations and emergency procedures. Our small unmanned aircraft rule (Part 107) and Certificate of Authorization process allow operators to transport goods and certain medical supplies — including test kits, most prescription drugs and, under certain circumstances, blood — provided the flight complies with all provisions of the rule or authorization. The FAA also issues special approvals, some in less than an hour, for flights that support emergency activities and appropriate government, health, or community initiatives. The agency's Systems Operations Support Center is available 24/7 to process emergency requests. Safety is the top consideration as we review each request.
The FAA issued an exemption (PDF) to help protect flight attendants from contracting COVID-19. The exemption allows flight attendants to relocate from the seats they would normally occupy so they can observe social distancing. It also excuses them from having to demonstrate the use of certain emergency equipment including life preservers and oxygen masks, allowing for alternative methods to inform passengers regarding the use of such equipment. Individual carriers must submit a Letter of Intent and be granted authorization by FAA in order to exercise the relief in the exemption, which runs through June 30, 2020.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will award approximately $10 billion in funds to commercial and general aviation airports from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Airport Program.
The funds will provide economic relief to airports around the country affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CARES Act provides funds to increase the federal share to 100 percent for Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and supplemental discretionary grants already planned for fiscal year 2020. Under normal circumstances, AIP grant recipients contribute a matching percentage of the project costs. Providing this additional funding and eliminating the local share will allow critical safety and capacity projects to continue as planned regardless of airport sponsors’ current financial circumstances.
Additionally, the CARES Act provides new funds distributed by various formulas for all airports that are part of the national airport system. This includes all commercial service airports, all reliever airports and some public-owned general aviation airports.
Under this new CARES Airport Program:
- Primary commercial service airports, with more than 10,000 annual passenger boardings, will receive additional funds based on the number of annual boardings, in a similar way to how they currently receive AIP entitlement funds.
- All commercial service airports will receive funds based on the number of passengers that board aircraft there, the amount of debt an airport has, and the amount of money the airport has in reserve.
- General aviation airports will receive funds based on their airport categories, such as National, Regional, Local, Basic and Unclassified.
The FAA plans to make these funds available in April, and airport sponsors should work with their local Office of Airports field office.
CARES Act Airport Grants — Frequently Asked Questions
The FAA is granting an exemption that extends until June 30, 2020, the duration of medical certificates for certain pilots and flight engineers who conduct scheduled and on-demand operations outside the United States if those medical certificates expire between March 31, 2020, and May 31, 2020.
COVID-19 is placing a severe burden on the U.S. healthcare system. Requiring pilots to undergo in-person medical examinations would further stress the healthcare system, and would increase the risk of transmitting the virus through personal contact between the doctor and the applicant. The FAA last week issued a policy stating it will not take enforcement action (PDF) against certain pilots or flight engineers who fly domestically with medical certificates that expire between March 31, 2020 and June 30, 2020.
The FAA granted certain training exemptions to scheduled and on-demand air carriers due to the unprecedented circumstances associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The exemptions give operators grace periods for completing certain training and qualification requirements, and give crewmembers relief from having to don protective breathing equipment or oxygen masks in training, checking, or evaluation. The exemptions can be viewed at regulations.gov. The docket numbers are FAA-2020-0291; FAA-2020-0292; FAA-2020-0307; and FAA-2020-0308.
The FAA will not take enforcement action (PDF) against certain pilots or flight engineers who fly with medical certificates that expire between March 31, 2020 and June 30, 2020. COVID-19 is placing a severe burden on the U.S. healthcare system. Requiring pilots to undergo in-person medical examinations would further stress the healthcare system, and would increase the risk of transmitting the virus through personal contact between the doctor and the applicant.
The FAA is extending through Oct. 24, 2020 the temporary waiver of minimum slot-use requirements at U.S. airports to help airlines that cancel flights due to the Coronavirus. Under normal circumstances, airlines can lose their slots at congested airports if they don't use them at least 80 percent of the time. The FAA is waiving the 80-percent-use requirement for U.S. and foreign airlines that have affected flights. The FAA initially announced that the relief would be in effect through May 31, 2020.
The global COVID-19 health emergency has led to flight reductions throughout the airline industry. As a result, FAA issued CertAlert #20-02 Temporary Parking of Overflow Aircraft (PDF) and CertAlert #20-03 Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) Examples when Closing Runway(s) and/or Taxiways(s) to Temporarily Park Aircraft (PDF), for airport operators who are working with airlines on temporary parking plans for their aircraft. The CertAlerts contain a list of recommendations an airport operator should consider when making decisions for overflow aircraft parking. To maintain the highest level of safety, FAA is working with airport operators on the safety mitigations the operator puts in place for temporary parking of aircraft.
The FAA's airport certification safety inspection oversight will continue during the COVID-19 health emergency. The airport certification safety inspectors will complete inspections as required by Part 139 and FAA Order 5280-5D (PDF). There is no impact to safety.
For a list of information and news from the FAA regarding the Coronavirus, please visit the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update.