To help keep pilots healthy, the FAA extends pilot medical deadlines during this COVID-19 pandemic
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to go within 100 yards of a medical facility right now – not a doctor’s office, not urgent care, not an emergency room. Nothing. But what about the unfortunate pilots who have medical certificates that are about to expire? Are they destined to get sick from COVID-19, or become virus carriers to others, just because the FAA needs to make sure they’re healthy?
Fortunately, the FAA is taking this global pandemic seriously and they are doing their part to help “flatten the curve”. Because of the extreme burden that COVID-19 is placing on our healthcare system, the FAA realizes that requiring pilots to continue to visit a doctor in person would continue to stress our already fragile system. Plus, the risk of transmitting the virus between applicant/doctor or between the applicant and a receptionist/ nurse/people in the waiting room is unacceptable.
The FAA originally announced that they will be granting exemptions for “certain” pilots and flight engineers who operate scheduled and on-demand flights outside of the United States if their medicals expire between March 30, 2020 and May 31, 2020. The exemption will extend the currency of these medical certificates until June 30, 2020.
The increasing severity of the worldwide health crisis, however, has forced the FAA to rethink this exemption policy. Last week the FAA issued a revised policy stating that it will not take enforcement action against “certain” pilots and flight engineers who fly domestically with medical certificates that expire between March 31, 2020 and June 30, 2020.
I have no idea why only “certain” pilots or flight engineers are exempt, but I think it’s a safe bet that the FAA will be inclusive of all pilots by the time this pandemic is resolved. There is also a good possibility that the deadline will be pushed even further into the future, depending on how quickly this virus gets under control.
It doesn’t seem like a lot of us are flying right now anyway and many airports are turning into ghost towns. For those of you who are still out there, the FAA has made sure that the currency of your pilot medical is one less thing that you have to worry about during these uncertain and anxious times.