Pilot Testing & Checks: Regulators Ease Certain Requirements

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Aviation could be considered one of the biggest, yet supportive industries in the world. While the businesses within are cooperating to survive and go through the crisis together, some essential support is also provided by regulatory bodies.

As you all know, aviation is one of the most regulated industries, while its employees, especially flight crew, are among the most frequently trained and tested. It is all about safety.

For example, pilots are required to regularly take recurrent training, do licence or operator’s proficiency checks and maintain their recency to be able to carry out pilot’s duties. All these training and tests are strictly regulated.

Beginning from March 2020, each month a new group of flight crew members have their licences expired and mandatory training missed. With this, a number of critically important employees cannot perform operations and secure continuity of vital operations.

On the other side, not only pilots are unable to follow the procedures, but also, amid social distancing and safety measures, training facilities or relevant instructors, inspectors or examiners are unavailable to conduct required tests, checks, or observations.

Nevertheless, keeping in mind the current situation and emerging difficulties with timely certification and testing of certain aviation professionals, such regulators as European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have eased some of the requirements.

Mainly, temporary relief measures are aimed at pilots who have been unable to comply with certain training, recent experience, testing, and checking requirements because of the coronavirus pandemic.

FAA Offers the Longest Duration of Relief under this Rule

Under the FAA supervision and based on its Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR), operators have been granted a permission to “continue to use pilots and other crewmembers in support of essential operations during this period”.

Additionally, short-term regulatory relief was offered to certain persons and pilot schools unable to meet duration and renewal requirements due to the outbreak.

“This temporary action is needed to enable individuals to continue to exercise their airman certificate privileges during the national emergency,” said FAA. This short-term SFAR is effective from 30 April, 2020 through 31 March, 2021.

EASA Provides Pilots and Airlines with the Exception of Four Months

Although EASA did not secure its pilots and airlines with such a huge breathing space, it also made an exception to the rule and extended validity and other time periods for licences, ratings, privileges, endorsements and certificates of pilots, instructors and examiners for four months.

Apart from the fact that soon there could be a shortage of qualified pilots, EASA also points out the lack of timely access to aircraft or flight simulation training devices (FSTDs) to complete the necessary flights, training and checking. 

According to EASA, this exception and temporary change to the requirement is expected to reduce the severity of the disruptions and consequent negative impacts on aviation.

As for now, the EASA exemption is effective since mid-March until the end of July, 2020.

It is of key importance to ensure that there is a sufficient number of pilots available to conduct essential aviation activities during this period.