CDC OKs Covid Home Test Kits for Intl Flight Mandates

 - May 10, 2021, 11:43 AM

This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.

In a move that had been requested by general aviation organizations, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has agreed to permit the use of Covid-19 home test kits as a means of complying with pre-departure testing requirements for passengers bound for the U.S.

On January 26, the CDC began requiring air passengers entering the U.S. to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test or recovery from the virus. That order applied to passengers across the board, including those on business aviation, charter, or scheduled airline flights.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and NBAA appealed to the agency to provide flexibility in testing, including the use of home kits under certain protocols.

“The need for preflight Covid-19 testing protocols is becoming more critical as travel continues to increase worldwide,” the associations told the agency in a joint letter. “However, current international protocols are burdensome, time-consuming, and have inherent limitations in processing large numbers of travelers.”

Originally, the CDC order had called for negative Covid-19 results from an authorized testing center or laboratory within 72 hours before boarding an aircraft. In the latest update to its guidance, the CDC is allowing for self (home) tests that involve a telehealth service affiliated with the manufacturer of the test and provide real-time supervision remotely.

The organizations called such a change important to business and general aviation operations. “The nature of the missions operated by the general aviation community is such that short-notice, on-site testing will be a significant aid in ensuring all passengers are appropriately tested for international flights,” they said.

However, the CDC warns that some countries might restrict the importation of unauthorized or unregistered tests and advises travelers to check the requirements of the destinations where they plan to travel.