After the Storm

And after the storm, I run and run as the rains come

And I look up, I look up, on my knees and out of luck, I look up.

Night has always pushed up day, You must know life to see decay

But I won’t rot, I won’t rot, Not this mind and not this heart, I won’t rot.

My favorite “go to” band is Mumford and Sons, and the opening lyrics to their cut from the Sigh No More album seems to be fitting for our present “new reality.” Just like September 10, 2001 was the day before a new normal of fighting a global war on terrorism rocked our world, so have the last few months given us a new wakeup call and a new order to the world as we had lived it PC – pre-Covid.

Since every aspect of our lives is different, including the realities of enjoying the solitude and tranquility of flying, we do need to keep a few things in mind regarding that. If you’re flying under BasicMed or with a current medical certificate, you may be more or less impacted by the certain delays that will result from the inability to see an aviation medical examiner for a flight physical or a BasicMed exam, or a health care professional for testing to obtain or renew a special issuance medical certificate. And with most of the FAA aeromedical staff doing what most of us are doing, working remotely, correspondence with and responses from the FAA will be further delayed as well.

Fortunately, the FAA took action on March 26 with the publication of a notice of Enforcement Policy from the Office of Chief Counsel’s Enforcement Division that suspends FAA enforcement action against airmen with medical certificates that expire between March 31 and June 30, 2020. In addition, the Aerospace Medical Certification Division has taken additional steps to “mitigate” their normal procedures for obtaining medical records and issuing certificates.

If you hold a medical issued under Special Issuance Authorization and interim medical reports are required during the period March 31 through June 30 and you are unable to provide the reports, the FAA will issue the new authorization and ask you to provide the required information when available, but not after June 30. If the reports aren’t provided by then, the FAA will withdraw the Authorization until the information is provided.

If your medical application is deferred, that is, not issued at the time of the exam with the AME, the FAA will extend the time allowed by 90 days to provide the information required for the review of the application. The FAA normally allows 60 days to provide supportive documentation for their review, so additional time will be allowed within that March 31–June 30 time frame for pilots to gather the needed information. Denials for Failure to Provide Requested Information will be placed on hold too until June 30.

However, if you have an AASI (AME-Assisted Special Issuance) that allows the AME to office issue, and you do not have the information required under the AASI, your AME cannot issue a medical certificate at the time of the office visit. Your application will be deferred, and you will need to provide the required information by June 30, or the special issuance will be withdrawn until you can provide the records.

Clearly, things are going to be messier than normal for any of you who have records and/or medical applications in the works during this time. Let us all hope and pray that we will be “After the Storm” sooner rather than later and we can clean up the mess this awful illness threw at us.

Please stay safe, practice physical distancing, wash your hands, and get ready for the recovery that will be upon us soon!

Portrait of Gary Crump, AOPA's director of medical certification with a Cessna 182 Skylane at the National Aviation Community Center.
Frederick, MD USA

Gary Crump

Gary is the Director of AOPA’s Pilot Information Center Medical Certification Section and has spent the last 32 years assisting AOPA members. He is also a former Operating Room Technician, Professional Firefighter/Emergency Medical Technician, and has been a pilot since 1973.

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