A new rule is easing restrictions on pilot flight review and recency requirements for both flight instructors and pilots of commuter and on-demand operators.
The FAA issued the rule at the request of several parties seeking an overturn of a legal interpretation limiting exemptions to the 24-month flight review requirements. But it also comes as the agency and industry look at areas of flight instructor and pilot requirements to help boost the pilot population and improve general aviation safety.
Published Sept. 16, the rule eases certificate requirements by permitting an airman who passes a practical test for a flight instructor certificate, by allowing additional rating to an existing flight instructor certificate and the renewal of the certificate or reinstatement of flight instructor certificate to meet the 24-month flight review requirements.
The rule further clarifies that recent flight experience requirements do not apply to a commuter or on-demand pilot-in-command (PIC) if that pilot meets the specific PIC requirements of the operator.
A third change in the rule permits requests for replacement airman and medical certificates to be made online.
The FAA published the rule as a “direct final” that bypasses the traditional notice and comment period because the rule “alleviates unnecessary burdens by expanding the exceptions to a flight review, removes the redundant recently requirements for pilots flying for certificated operators under Part 135 and provides a regulatory basis for the Airmen Certification to provide Airmen online services.”
While the rule is final, the FAA is accepting comments through Oct. 16. The rule will take effect Nov. 15, unless the agency receives a comment in opposition to the rule.
The rule overturns a legal ruling — the so-called “Levy Interpretation” — made in 2008 by the FAA that did not recognize flight instructor practical tests as an acceptable means of satisfying the 24-month flight review requirements because it was not a “pilot proficiency check.”
The FAA notes, however, it has received several requests to reconsider the Levy Interpretation, and the agency agreed, saying it has “good cause” to make the change.
“Although a flight instructor practical test is chiefly focused on the pilot’s instructional skills, a pilot must demonstrate satisfactory performance of the procedures and maneuvers selected by the examiner — at least to the commercial pilot skill level — while giving effective instruction.” These requirements exceed those of a flight review, the agency adds, “and meet the goal of ensuring that a pilot’s competency is observed by a qualified individual.”
As for the PIC recent flight experience requirements, the FAA notes that regulations have caused some confusion over the scope of the exception for PICs meeting an operator’s recency qualifications and requirements.
“The FAA did not intend to limit the exception to pilots employed by air carriers operating in Parts 121 and 135,” the agency says. “The FAA intended to include any pilot in command who is employed by a Part 119 certificate holder authorized to conduct operations under Part 121 or Part 135 when the pilot is engaged in operations under parts 91, 121, or 135 for that certificate holder” if the PIC meets the operator’s requirements, the FAA adds.