Summary of Relevant COVID-19 Documents for Flight Crews

Last update: 5:00 p.m. 06/25/2020 

The following is summary of some of the most relevant documents issued by agencies in the United States and Canada related to COVID-19.

FAA Medical Exemption Extension

On June 25, the Federal Aviation Administration released an update to the COVID-19 Special Federal Aviation Regulation that was originally released at the end of April. This update provides for the following extensions for medical certificates that expire in April through September 2020:

  • Pilots who hold a medical certificate that would have expired in March 2020 must obtain a new medical certificate before July 1, 2020.
  • Pilots who hold a medical certificate that would have expired in April through September 2020 will have a three-calendar-month extension.

For example, a medical certificate that was to expire in May 2020 has been extended by three calendar months and is now valid until August 31, 2020. Likewise, a medical certificate that expires in September 2020 is now valid until December 31, 2020.


FAA Medical Exemption

The FAA published its medical exemption on March 31. A few key points:

  • Airlines must provide FAA with a comprehensive list of each pilot and flight engineer who will exercise the relief, by name and airman certificate number.
    • Prior to including an individual on the list, the certificate holder must confirm with each individual that the individual agrees with the certificate holder seeking relief on the individual’s behalf and that each individual affirms the intention to act consistently with the conditions and limitations herein. 
  • This exemption applies only to pilots and flight engineers whose validity period to exercise the privileges of the required medical certificate expires from March 31, 2020, through May 31, 2020. 
    • The medical certificates of these pilots and flight engineers are made valid until June 30, 2020. 
  • This exemption applies only to Part 121 operations outside the United States. Certificate holders may dispatch or release flights, and pilots and flight engineers may operate outside of the United States under this exemption, unless otherwise prohibited by a foreign country. 
  • Pilots and flight engineers must have in their physical possession, or readily accessible in the aircraft, a copy of this grant of exemption when exercising the relief provided.


Enforcement Policy for Expired Airman Medical Certificates (U.S.)

On March 26, the FAA issued Enforcement Policy for Expired Airman Medical Certificates, which states that the FAA will not take enforcement action against a pilot flight crewmember or flight engineer operating with an expired medical certificate. The policy only applies to domestic operations and does not apply to pilot flight crewmembers or flight engineers operating internationally. This policy is effective March 31, 2020, through June 30, 2020.

ALPA has been told by the FAA that this is an interim step; they anticipate issuing an exemption the week of March 30 that would extend medical duration up to approximately 90 days. The exemption, when published, would be applicable to both domestic and international operations.

If you have any questions regarding the status of your medical, please contact your airline. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.

Preventing COVID-19 in the workplace: employers, employees and essential service workers (Canada)

The Canadian Ministry of Labour advises that essential transportation workers (including air crew) are not required to self-isolate for 14 days after work-related travel but are required to self-monitor for symptoms and to self-isolate immediately if they develop even mild symptoms. 

Federal Register Notice: Notification of Arrival Restrictions Applicable to Flights Carrying Persons Who Have Recently Traveled from or Were Otherwise Present Within the Countries of the Schengen Area (U.S.)

  • This notice, issued by DHS, updates the arrival restrictions that were previously in place for passengers who have been in mainland China or Iran in the past 14 days to include countries in the Schengen Area. DHS later added the United Kingdom and Ireland to the list.
  • While the Presidential Proclamation restricts and suspends the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of all aliens who were physically present within the Schengen Area during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States, U.S. citizens are exempt and are allowed to return to the United States.
  • These restrictions require passengers, including U.S. citizens, who have been in these areas in the past 14 days to be directed to 1 of 13 U.S. airports where they will have health screenings upon arrival.
  • The notice exempts crews of passenger and cargo flight from the health screenings.

CDC/CBP Screening Protocols for Flight and Cabin Crews (U.S.)

  • U.S.-based and non-China-based foreign flight and cabin crewmembers, including crewmembers on deadhead transportation regardless of air carrier, but excluding crewmembers on deadhead transportation for purposes of attending training, are exempt from both entry restrictions and health screening protocols.
  • ALPA expects that this document will be updated based on the addition of the Schengen Area, but that the exemptions will remain the same.

Transport Canada: New Measures for COVID-19 (Canada)

On March 16, 2020, Transport Canada issued new measures related to COVID-19, highlights include:

  • Banning of all foreign nationals except those from the United States (caveat that foreign nationals cannot have traveled outside the United States in the past 14 days).
  • Consolidation of some international arrivals to CYYZ, CYVR, CYUL, and CYYC.
  • 14 days self-isolation for any traveler entering Canada. Note that flight crews are exempt from the self-isolation and are asked to just self-monitor. 

Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO 20003): 2019 Novel Coronavirus: Interim Health Guidance for Air Carriers and Crews (U.S.)

This alert provides updated guidance for crews during layovers both domestically and internationally, as well as when off duty.

While on a layover in the United States or internationally:

  • Travel as a group in private transport provided by the air carrier when traveling between the airport and hotel.
    • Minimize contact with ground personnel and time in public areas while moving between the aircraft and the private transport.
    • Do not use public transportation, including when traveling between the airport and hotel.
  • Stay in your hotel room to the extent possible.
  • Minimize going out into the general population and use social distancing (maintain a distance of approximately 6 feet, if possible) when in public. Avoid crowds, stores, sporting or mass entertainment events, and other situations likely to attract large numbers of people.
  • Eat in your hotel room with either room service or delivery service. If in-room dining options are not available, eat at a restaurant located in the hotel. If not available at the hotel, eat at a restaurant located close to the hotel.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use at least a 60 percent alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Use soap and water when your hands are visibly soiled.
  • Avoid touching your face.

While at your U.S. residence or home base:

  • Be aware of the risk of COVID-19 in your local community.
  • Follow guidance of your state or local health department.
  • Avoid crowded places and use social distancing.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.

Monitor your health before, during, and after travel:

  • Know how to contact the state or local health department for your residence.
  • Monitor your health condition, following the guidance provided by your employer’s occupational health program.
    • During periods when you are working, take your temperature twice a day (morning and evening). Monitor yourself for fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. Fever means feeling feverish or having a measured temperature of 100.4 degrees F (38 degrees C) or higher.
    • At all other times, pay attention to your health. If you feel feverish or develop a cough or difficulty breathing, take your temperature.
    • Your employer’s occupational health program also is recommended to check in with you periodically to make sure you are well.
  • If you develop fever, cough, or difficulty breathing:
    • Stay home or in your hotel room and avoid contact with others.
    • Immediately report your symptoms to your employer’s occupational health program.
    • If symptoms occur during flight, separate yourself from others following CDC’s guidance, to the extent possible.
    • If you are at your residence, call your state or local health department or a doctor for medical advice before seeking care. Tell them your symptoms and that you work as a crewmember for an air carrier.
    • If you are in the United States, your employer’s occupational health program should notify the state or local health department where you are located at the time. If you are at an international location, your employer should notify the public health authority for that location and help you get health care, as needed.
    • If you are sick, do not travel via jumpseat, deadheading, or as a regular passenger.
    • Wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizers.
  • Notify your employer’s occupational health program if you have a high-risk exposure to COVID-19, for example, if a member of your household is sick with COVID-19.

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