FAA Defers Legal Action on Expired Certs

FAA DEFERS LEGAL ACTION ON EXPIRED CERTS

On March 26, 2020, the FAA’s Assistant Chief Counsel for Enforcement issued a document titled ENFORCEMENT POLICY FOR EXPIRED AIRMAN MEDICAL CERTIFICATES.

The money paragraph says:

Due to extraordinary circumstances related to the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic, until June 30, 2020, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will not take legal enforcement action against any person serving as a required pilot flight crewmember or flight engineer based on noncompliance with medical certification duration standards when expiration of the required medical certificate occurs from  March 31, 2020, through June 30, 2020.

You can download the entire bulletin printed in the April 1, 2020 Federal Register by clicking here:

Emergency Bulletin

The bulletin provides background text saying that CDC advice to clinicians and facilities “includes rescheduling elective and non-urgent admissions, and postponing routine dental and eye care visits.” The FAA medical examination, as a non-emergency service, therefore falls under the CDC advisory for postponement.

WHAT ISN’T COVERED?

If your certification expired prior to March 31, 2020, you get no relief from the FAA’s deferred enforcement action

14 CFR 61.53 (prohibition on operations during medical deficiency) and 14 CFR 53.19 (prohibition on operations during physical deficiency) are specifically NOT WAIVED

If you have, know, or suspect an acute medical or physical problem (like being sick with coronavirus…) that prohibits you from safely operating an aircraft, the regulation requires you to stand down

THE FINE PRINT

The language in the bulletin does not specifically address Special Issuance Authorization medical certificates. But, the bulletin states that the order includes “medical certificates issued under 14 CFR part 67”, and SIAs are issued under 67.401.

Your medical certificate HAS NOT BEEN EXTENDED.*

Only, the FAA has agreed that you will not be prosecuted if you are fit and flying on a medical that expired or expires between March 31 – June 30, 2020.

*But standby for more information — this might change. But for now (April 2, 2020) the expiration dates are unchanged.

FOR PILOTS ON HIMS OR MENTAL HEALTH SPECIAL ISSUANCES

If you have a requirement to meet with an aviation psychiatrist at a set interval, your ASSESSMENT DEADLINE HAS NOT CHANGED.

In the middle of March, Dr. Berry issued a directive (internal email, not published in the Federal Register) that for the immediate future, psychiatric re-assessment can be conducted by telemedicine on a case-by-case basis.

The FAA specifically stated that initial psychiatric appointments still must be done in-person.

At my last check with trusted colleagues, the FAA has not published an advisory for neuropsychologists. Relaxed rules on telemedicine won’t apply for neuropsychology since the examinations can only be conducted in person.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Nothing on this page is legal advice, only my reading and interpretation of an FAA bulletin after discussing the bulletin with trusted aviation psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, and HIMS AMEs.

If you are an ATP, stay in touch with your company, union, and the FAA for updates.

If you fly internationally, this bulletin may not cover the full scope of your duty. it’s even more critical to discuss your status with your company and union.

Be kind to your AME and neuropsychologist! Their caseloads are going to swell near the end of the order.

Work with your medical team to stay as close to a regular schedule as possible under these trying times.

Please don’t call in mid-June to submit paperwork by the end of the month — you may find your docs congested with the cases normally  seen in March, April, and May.