FAA Efforts to Re-Tool Itself in Response to Covid-19 Closures

We had a phone call today with FAA Associate Administrator Ali Bahrami and his team.  This is part of a series of calls in which we’ve been engaged to share information and keep everyone working together during the Covid-19 crisis.  Bahrami is working from home but he nonetheless has been very transparent with the industry about the FAA’s efforts.

Here are some bullet points on new developments in aviation regulation:

  • FAA has issued a SAFO 20009 for air carrier crews.  This replaces SAFO 20003 (an earlier document with guidance for air carrier crews).  It includes guidance for health monitoring and health protection.
  • FAA is working on a new Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) to address a wide variety of issues that are caused by the current Covid-19 crisis.  This mostly addresses timing issues where certificates or approvals are expiring but cannot safely be renewed at the present time.  It is in FAA coordination and is moving toward finalization.  The next step will be DOT review.  DOT knows that this is a priority.  The FAA confirmed today that there is presently no authoritative list of items in the SFAR because the draft is still subject to change; nonetheless, the SFAR is expected to provide extensions for a number of recurring regulatory requirements, including:
    • Extensions of pilot currency requirements;
    • Extensions for certified flight instructor certificate requirements;
    • Extension of knowledge examination expiration periods;
    • Extension for filing certain documents under the FAA’s enforcement provisions;
    • Extensions for certain aircraft maintenance / continuing airworthiness requirements.
  • FAA issued an aircraft certification service policy for the use of remote technology.  Flight Standards has been working on their own corollary document.  FAA Maintenance Division Manager Jackie Black explained that the maintenance and operations industry sectors have different business needs from those of the manufacturing sector.  Thus, the Flight Standards guidance is different from the Aircraft Certification guidance.  This guidance was signed by Ricardo Domingo today so it will be issued very soon.  It has already been briefed to the Flight Standards managers.  Mr. Domingo asked Mr. Black to make it available to industry.
  • The FAA has the power to reinspect or reexamine an FAA-issued certificate at any time.  This is known as a 709 reexamination because the authority is found in 49 U.S.C. 44709.  For 709 reexaminations, the FAA has said that if you make a request then they can delay the re-examination or conduct it remotely.
  • The FAA is looking into how to handle IA recurrent training.  They have already extended the expiration date of existing approved courses.  There are some existing remote-delivery courses in the FAA’s IA-training database but many courses were approved only as “conventional” courses (e.g. live-and-in-person).  Forthcoming guidance will allow the current providers of already-approved courses to change the format of delivery (to permit remote delivery), without having to go through a burdensome re-approval process for the new method of delivery.
  • FAA has received an OMB memo about planning for the return of FAA employees to the office (using the White House’s three-phase approach).  FAA is currently defining a process that meets the OMB requirements, so they can be prepared for a return to in-office operations.



About Jason Dickstein
Mr. Dickstein is the President of the Washington Aviation Group, a Washington, DC-based aviation law firm. Since 1992, he has represented aviation trade associations and businesses that include aircraft and aircraft parts manufacturers, distributors, and repair stations, as well as both commercial and private operators. Blog content published by Mr. Dickstein is not legal advice; and may not reflect all possible fact patterns. Readers should exercise care when applying information from blog articles to their own fact patterns.

One Response to FAA Efforts to Re-Tool Itself in Response to Covid-19 Closures

  1. Pingback: Covid-19 – Avion Trace Group, LLC

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