FAA Takes Steps to Address the Effects of COVID-19 on the Aviation Industry
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proactively taking steps to help address the widespread economic and health effects that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the aviation industry. The FAA continues to evaluate a large number of requests from across all aviation industry sectors to help address COVID-19-related effects.
To date, the FAA has taken the following actions:
Air Traffic Control Facilities
The FAA is temporarily closing and thoroughly cleaning air traffic control facilities where employees have tested positive for COVID-19. Every air traffic control facility in the country has a contingency plan (PDF) to keep air traffic moving safely when events impede normal operations. In some cases, this means transferring duties to adjacent facilities.
Air Carrier Training Exemptions
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 https://www.regulations.gov/. The docket numbers are FAA-2020-0291; FAA-2020-0292; FAA-2020-0307; and FAA-2020-0308.
Pilot Medical Certificates
The FAA will not take enforcement action 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.
Airport Slot-Use Waivers
The FAA is temporarily waiving 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 through May 31, 2020 for U.S. and foreign airlines that have affected flights, and is proposing to extend the waiver through Oct. 24, 2020.
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.
Temporary Parking of Overflow Aircraft
The global COVID-19 pandemic has led to flight reductions throughout the airline industry. As a result, the FAA issued CertAlert #20-02 Temporary Parking of Overflow Aircraft, for airport operators who are working with airlines on temporary parking plans for their aircraft. The CertAlert contains a list of recommendations an airport operator should consider when making decisions for overflow aircraft parking. To maintain the highest level of safety, the FAA is working with airport operators to ensure additional safety mitigations are put in place for temporary parking of aircraft.
Airport Safety Inspections
The FAA’s airport certification safety inspections will continue within required timeframes during the COVID-19 pandemic. The airport certification safety inspectors will complete inspections by September 30, 2020, as required by Part 139 and FAA Order 5280-5D. There will be no impact to safety. The inspections will be conducted using social-distancing measures to protect both FAA and airport personnel.
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.
CDC Adds More Countries to Level 3 Nonessential Travel Listing
The CDC has expanded their Level 3 nonessential travel notice to include Australia, countries in South America, parts of Asia and the Middle East. These countries are experiencing widespread transmission of the respiratory illness caused by the novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19). The CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to all countries in the below list.
- South Korea
Travelers returning from these countries should stay home for 14 days after returning from travel, monitor their health, and practice social distancing.
Only Rely on Official Sources for Accurate COVID-19 Information
Due to the large amount of speculation regarding COVID-19, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is reminding everyone to rely on OFFICIAL sources for accurate information. You can help control the spread of rumors by sharing FEMA’s web page with your friends, family and colleagues.
FAA Statement on COVID-19 cases at FAA Facilities
Like much of the country, the Federal Aviation Administration is experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases at air traffic facilities and other offices across the nation.
Despite the challenges, our commitment to safety will not waver.
Our air traffic system is resilient and flexible. Every air traffic control facility in the country has a contingency plan to keep air traffic moving safely when events impede normal operations. In some cases, this means transferring duties to adjacent facilities.
Air traffic controllers, technicians and safety inspectors are highly trained professionals who play critical roles in safely and efficiently moving tens of thousands of aircraft and millions of passengers — 24 hours a day, every day.
Our agency’s mission is to operate the world’s largest and most complex airspace system. But we have an equal obligation to ensure the health and safety of our employees.
Each disruption has a distinct impact on the air traffic system. We are experiencing this at the handful of facilities already affected by COVID-19. This is frustrating and inconvenient, but is necessary in the interest of safety.
We will do our best to keep the public abreast of a rapidly changing situation. Passengers can check fly.faa.gov for real-time updates about how the air traffic system is performing.
We appreciate the public’s support and patience.
Department of State advises U.S. Citizens to avoid all international travel due to COVID-19.
The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period. U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel. Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice. Airlines have cancelled many international flights and several cruise operators have suspended operations or cancelled trips. If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe.
For more information, review the full advisory.
CDC Expands Virus-Related Travel Advisory to UK and Ireland
The CDC updated their Level 3 Travel Health Notice to include the United Kingdom and Ireland. The United Kingdom is experiencing widespread ongoing transmission of respiratory illness caused by the novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19). Because the United Kingdom shares an open border with the Republic of Ireland (Ireland), CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to all countries in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Affected countries include:
- Northern Ireland
- Republic of Ireland (Ireland)
Travelers returning from the United Kingdom or Ireland should stay home for 14 days after returning from travel, monitor their health, and practice social distancing. Please review the latest about Level 3 Travel Health Notices.
DHS Outlines New Process for Americans Returning from Certain European Countries, China, and Iran
In order to help prevent the spread of travel-related cases of coronavirus in the United States, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a Notice of Arrival Restrictions outlining the process for American citizens, legal permanent residents, and their immediate families who are returning home after recently visiting certain European countries, China, and Iran.
These European countries, known as the Schengen Area, include: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Effective for flights taking off at 11:59 PM EDT on Friday, March 13th, Americans returning from all restricted countries will now be required to travel through the following 13 airports:
- Boston-Logan International Airport (BOS), Massachusetts
- Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Illinois
- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Texas
- Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW), Michigan
- Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Hawaii
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Georgia
- John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York
- Los Angeles International Airport, (LAX), California
- Miami International Airport (MIA), Florida
- Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), New Jersey
- San Francisco International Airport (SFO), California
- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Washington
- Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD), Virginia
Upon arrival, travelers will proceed to standard customs processing. They will then continue to enhanced entry screening where the passenger will be asked about their medical history, current condition, and asked for contact information for local health authorities. Passengers will then be given written guidance about COVID-19 and directed to proceed to their final destination, and immediately home-quarantine in accordance with CDC best practices.
In order to ensure compliance, local and State public health officials will contact individuals in the days and weeks following their arrival.
Coronavirus Travel Advisories Expanded to Include Most of Europe
Guidance for Travelers from Countries with Widespread Sustained (Ongoing) Transmission Arriving in the United States
To slow the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) into the United States, CDC is working with state and local public health partners to implement after-travel health precautions.
Depending on your travel history, you will be asked to stay home for a period of 14 days from the time you left an area with widespread or ongoing community spread (Level 3 Travel Health Notice).
Countries that have a Level 3 Travel Health Notice (widespread, ongoing transmission):
- South Korea
Take these steps to monitor your health and practice social distancing:
- Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day to monitor for fever. Also watch for cough or trouble breathing.
- Stay home and avoid contact with others. Do not go to work or school for this 14-day period. Discuss your work situation with your employer before returning to work.
- Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares during the time you are practicing social distancing.
- Avoid crowded places (such as shopping centers and movie theaters) and limit your activities in public.
- Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters).
Download the CDC’s COVID-19 Traveler Information Card.
Air travel plans may be affected by the virus. Check with your airline before heading to the airport.
The evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation may impact your air travel plans. Many airlines have posted travel alerts for passengers on their websites and have instituted flexible travel policies. Please check with your airline about the status of your flight before you leave for the airport. The following links are to airline-specific flight status updates:
CDC Recommends Travelers Avoid All Nonessential Travel to Italy
- South Korea
The CDC has established an interactive map with country-specific travel health information about the virus. Travelers can also sign up to receive email updates about the virus on this same CDC webpage.
Travel Advisories for South Korea and Japan
Travelers should also enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive alerts and updates while traveling.
Guidance from the CDC on What the Public, Air Carriers and Crews Can Do
The current outbreak of 2019 novel coronavirus originated in China but has now spread internationally, impacting an increasing number of countries. In the coming days and weeks, we expect more confirmed cases in the United States, including more person-to-person spread.
The goal of an aggressive ongoing public health response is to prevent spread of this virus in the community in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide the following guidance to the public:
What You Should Do
- Stay informed – CDC is updating its website daily with the latest information and advice for the public. (www.cdc.gov/ncov)
- Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. CDC recommends routine preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses.
These actions include:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
CDC also has specific guidance for travelers.
The federal government has our best people working on this problem. And we have one of the strongest public health systems in the world.
What You Should Not Do
- CDC does not currently recommend the use of facemasks for the general public. This virus is not spreading in the community. While it is cold and flu season, we don’t routinely recommend the use of facemasks by the public to prevent respiratory illness and we certainly are not recommending that at this time for this virus.
- We understand the recent recommendations – including avoiding travel to China and the quarantine of U.S. citizens returning from Wuhan – is concerning. The actions the federal government is taking are science-based and with the aim of protecting the health and safety of all Americans.
- Please do not let fear or panic guide your actions. For example, please don’t assume that just because someone is of Asian descent that they have this new coronavirus. There are about 4 million Chinese-Americans in the United States.