Medicals and the "virus"
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Answered By AOPA
Here's a strange question - but for me a very relevant one.

I am British (I also have a Irish passport), I live in Dominica in the Eastern Caribbean (NOT the Dominican Republic) - have an FAA PPL and fly an Archer out of Canefield - this is a small place and I use my airplane like a car to get around the islands.

Now here's the thing, this is no FAA Flight Medical Examiner here or on the neigbouring islands - most of which have in any case closed their borders.

I had booked to go up to the US in two weeks time - yup, US closed to me (technically, I have not been to Europe since last August, but good luck to explaining that to the armed high school drop out that greets you on arrival!!) 

The plan was to get my medical renewed (my last Class 3 was 9th April 2018) and also get my flight review (last one May 2018) - after that a couple of days at Sun n Fun and then back home sorted out for the next couple of years.

Seems I will not be able to get to the US (doubt if I'll be getting my flight costs, car hire costs, insurance and hotels refunded).

It is a very unusual situation - does anyone have any idea if during the virus outbreak whether the FAA are maybe going to allow any "wiggle room" on the medicals and flight reviews?

Thinking this could be relevant to those in the US very soon if doctors are taken away from these things to help with the virus and or if non-essential visits to medical doctors are restricted.

Being outside the US BasicMed does not offer me a way out besides which if one doesn't have a US drivers licence one cannot access it anyway. 
17 Replies
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AOPA Staff Answer
Good news. The FAA has suspended enforcement action on medical certificates expiring on or after March 31, 2020 until June 30, 2020. Check out the home page of AOPA.org for the full story.
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Eric. this is a great question. It is a questions we recently asked the FAA regarding medical certification. The FAA is considering that this is a National Emergency Declaration and are considering possible extension of the expiration date. We are awaiting a direct update on the decision and monitoring the FAA website.
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That is good news, I do hope if they do it that it applies especially to those in remote locations.

It's not just the medical but also the flight review - I have got mine so that they can both be done up in the US, and I can pick up parts for my annual due in May - just has a 50 hour and pre-annual check done to identify parts to bring down, a clever plan derailed by the virus.

Get my inspections done on Guadeloupe or scary St Barths via French St Martin - part of France so can't go there unless they lift their prohibition.
 
There was an FAA instructor in Barbados but he has now retired, so even the flight review is at risk.

All a worry as I anticipate maybe doing some volunteer flights to pick up meducal supplies and maybe get people to and from meducal appointments.
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Eric, attached is a copy of the letter AOPA President, Mark Baker, sent to the FAA Administrator regarding is issue.


AOPA.FAA.COVID-19- FINAL.pdf
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Thanks, we will now have to cross our fingers and help.

More on mine, I looked into getting the medical and flight review done other than in the US - only possible place I found was South America - Chile and Argentina (cost north of US$10,000 once the music stops) - but that will now not happen as one has to fly via the US!

Medical is good until the end of April 2020 and flight review until the end of May 2020 - was going to volunteer to fly supplies in and out of here (may as well go down doing somethings useful!) so I have a month or so of that left:)
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Thanks to AOPA for the letter to the FAA. I hope they see fit to be lenient on medical expirations.
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We just were notified “to the contrary”, yesterday.....
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I have decided that if I am called on to fly something on or off the island I am going to do it even if my medical has expired and I am out of my flight review.
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We'll here's what they said. Do so, at your own peril.

9-AMC-AME-SEM-(FAA) <ame.seminar.registration@faa.gov>
To: Dr Chien

Dear AME,

 
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 efforts, we appreciate the challenges AMEs are facing in the current practice environment.  At this time, airmen medical certification procedures have not changed.  All airman medical certification examinations must be performed face-to-face on the schedule specified in 14 CFR part 61.23.  We are exploring contingency options during this National Emergency. 
 
In the interim, we highly encourage AMEs to follow CDC and local public health guidance.  To the greatest extent possible, please try to separate well airmen from ill patients either by space or time. 
 
There is erroneous information that the FAA has directed airmen flying international routes not to see their AME or complete an airman medical exam.  This is simply not true.  Airmen who have followed FAA guidance for international flight crews (to include sanitized crew quarters and limited overseas social contact) are at low risk for COVID-19 and should proceed with their required exam.  On the other hand, if your office pre-screening identifies an airman with respiratory symptoms, please refer to CDC and local Public Health guidance.

.

 




 
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Eric Butcher:
I have decided that if I am called on to fly something on or off the island I am going to do it even if my medical has expired and I am out of my flight review.

The FAA isn't going to show up with guns and handcuffs over that (ASI's have neither the equipment nor the authority to use it), but if they catch you, given your publicly expressed intent to disregard and violate the law (which takes you right out of the Compliance Philosophy guidelines), they may take enforcement action against you, up to and including revocation of all your FAA certificates.  Choose wisely.

Update 3/27: The FAA has now given immunity from enforcement action for flying with an expired medical through the end of June, and we're told that they're going to do the same with some Part 61 requirements like flight reviews.  But that does NOT change the terms of your insurance policy contract requiring a current medical or flight review.  Talk to your insurer and get the answer in writing.