The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) has published a state-by-state resource to help alleviate some of the burdensome research pilots might be forced to do to understand if they can continue flying in their state. Many pilots have been grounded and are unsure of how to navigate the latest requirements on general aviation flying while under mandatory stay-at-home orders in several states and territories.
The FAA is requiring airports that receive federal grants to remain open unless they have obtained specific FAA approval to close. But the fact that some airports remain open doesn’t necessarily mean everyone can continue flying.
State governors have issued multiple executive orders to protect residents during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, all of which follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for social distancing. However, finding out if you can still fly for various reasons is not that simple.
The online guide includes links to relevant executive orders issued by each governor, along with any supplemental guidance issued by the state department of transportation or aviation, answers to commonly asked questions, contact information for relevant government offices, and helpful reminders about checking notams and calling airport managers to confirm availability of services.
“AOPA continues to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on GA (general aviation) in all 50 states and U.S. territories, and this database of information should make it easier for pilots to decide whether they can fly or not,” said Mike Ginter, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy. “We will continue updating the state-by-state resources as new guidance becomes available, and since this is a rapidly changing situation, we also urge pilots to proactively call their local airport managers and check notams before flying.”
If pilots are unable to find what they are looking for in the state-by-state guide, AOPA recommends that they contact their airport and state transportation or aviation department for clarification. Pilots can also call or message the AOPA Pilot Information Center at 800-USA-AOPA (800-872-2672) for assistance, but pilots are reminded that AOPA staff cannot provide legal interpretation or opinions of state executive orders. If required, pilots should contact an aviation attorney licensed to practice law in that state to get a legal interpretation or opinion about how the stay-at-home order impacts their planned flight.
Colorado and Virginia are unusual in that both states have published supplemental guidance that allows flight schools to remain open for aircraft rentals to help pilots maintain currency and proficiency but restricts dual instruction.
Pilots should also be aware that the FAA recently announced temporary adjustments to the operating hours of approximately 100 control towers nationwide at facilities that have seen a significant reduction in flights since the pandemic began.
For ongoing news and advocacy updates around the impacts of the coronavirus on GA, visit the AOPA website’s resource page.