In the two SFAR extensions that were authorized in June and October, the FAA gradually narrowed the regulatory leeway. Pilots’ eligibility to apply the most recent extensions ran out on January 31.
In a February 1 letter responding to a joint request made by AOPA and several aviation industry organizations in early January, the FAA said its decision was in keeping with the position it set forth when it extended the SFAR in October—that aviation-system operations were improving from earlier in the pandemic, and therefore it “might not extend relief to additional groups of persons, airmen, and operators” if improvement continued.
“The FAA is continuing to monitor disruption caused by COVID-19 related restrictions. Consideration of any further relief will be evaluated to ensure the highest levels of safety within the aviation system continue,” the agency wrote.
AOPA is carefully reviewing the FAA’s letter and will advocate for any further action as the impact of the continuing pandemic on pilots requires.
In the interim, pilots should schedule any necessary medical appointments or currency activities in advance of expiration dates and monitor their states’ and localities’ public health rules and policies.
AOPA also has resources for pilots to safely return to their aircraft cockpits.