For all the details, see the new Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) that covers Relief for certain persons and operations during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Outbreak. The SFAR is effective April 30. The Federal Register version is available at this link:

Some of the requirements are:

  • Current to act as PIC in March of 2020
  • Flight review due March through June of 2020
  • Pilots in any operation that requires at least a commercial pilot certificate
  • Or, operations requiring private pilot certificates who have:
    • 500 hours total time
    • 400 hours as PIC
    • 50 hours last 12 calendar months
    • Doing these types of operations:
      • Incidental to business or employment
      • In support of family medical needs or to transport essential goods for personal use
      • Necessary to fly an aircraft to a location in order to meet a requirement of this chapter
      • A flight to transport essential goods and/or medical supplies to support public health needs
    • Persons onboard must be essential to the flight

The FAA finds, under the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 outbreak, that extending the 24 calendar month requirement of § 61.56(c) by up to three calendar months will not adversely affect safety, provided the extension applies to active pilots and certain risk mitigations are met. The three calendar month extension applies to pilots who were current to act as PIC of an aircraft in March 2020 and whose flight review was due in March 2020 through June 2020. To mitigate any safety risk, the pilot must have logged at least 10 hours of PIC time within the twelve calendar months preceding the month the flight review was due. This flight time must be obtained in an aircraft for which that pilot is rated. In addition, eligible pilots will need to complete FAA Safety Team online courses totaling at least three WINGS credits. The courses must have been completed in January 2020 or later to meet this requirement. Completion of the safety courses demonstrates continued learning and pilot professional development.

Question we field often – Does flight instruction conducted by a commercial pilot for a hot air balloon meet the applicability provision in Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) 118 for relief under the rule?

Answer – Yes, flight instruction conducted by a commercial pilot for a hot air balloon is an operation that meets the applicability requirement for relief provided under SFAR 118. A person holding a commercial pilot certificate for a balloon is exercising commercial pilot privileges per 14 CFR § 61.133 and operating under part 91 when providing flight training in a balloon.

Also, note that after determining that you meet the applicability requirements for relief from the flight review provided by the SFAR, you will also need to comply with the certain requirements. Refer to the SFAR 118 for specific details.