Coronavirus: US business aviation sector calls for temporary rule relaxation

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Trade associations representing the business and general aviation sector in the USA have called for the Federal Aviation Administration to issue exemptions to licences and certificates to ensure aircraft can keep flying during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a letter sent to Ali Bahrami, the FAA’s associate administrator for aviation safety, NBAA and several other groups requested several exemptions and accommodations to ensure continuity of operations and commerce during the pandemic.

The requests included extending 14 CFR Part 61 pilot current requirements and extensions for aircraft maintenance and continuing airworthiness requirements.

Aviation authorities elsewhere in the world, such as EASA and the UK’s CAA have provided similar exemptions for commercial and non-commercial operations already

Brian Koester, NBAA’s director of flight operations and regulations said, “We appreciate the FAA’s cooperation and efforts to provide these exemptions and exceptions, keeping business aviation flying without compromising safety or negatively impacting the National Airspace System,

“Business aviation plays an important role as the nation continues its work to contain Covid-19, mitigate the devastation the virus might cause and – eventually – begin nationwide recovery.”

Groups to co-sign the letter include: The Air Medical Operators Association, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, National Agricultural Aviation Association and National Air Transportation Association.

The letter highlighted activities and services provided by business and general aviation, such as medical services, transporting medical supplies.

Last week NATA and the NBAA called for clarity on the guidance for US-based business and general aviation companies seeking help from the Cares (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security ) Act. The Cares Act provides US$80bn of assistance for the aviation sector in the form of loans and salary benefits and provides US$10bn in grants for airports with commercial airline services.

In a letter sent to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the organizations requested that the US Treasury Department consider the scale and business operations of general aviation air carriers and FBOs when developing guidance on the loan and grant programs.

Initial guidance from the Treasury Department presents challenges for general aviation businesses, as certain requirements were structured for the scheduled airlines. In the letter, NATA and NBAA requested that the secretary provide additional guidance and flexibility for the general and business aviation sector.

The letter can be read in full here here.

More information on the CARES Act applicability to business aviation can be found at the NBAA resource: Key Provisions for General Aviation Businesses in the CARES Act.

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 20 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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