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Plastic Student Pilot Certificates Start April 1st

PilotCertThe final FAA rule for the proposed new student pilot certificates was issued in the Federal Register today. Fortunately the idea of photos and biometric IDs was dropped, but student pilots will no longer get their certificates from their AME. Instead they will apply in person at their FSDO (unlikely), through a DPE, with a Part 141 flight school, or a CFI. The Civil Aviation Registry will then send a plastic student pilot certificate to the applicant after successful security vetting by the TSA. This plastic certificate will not expire but a separate medical will still be obtained from an AME with the current duration. Receipt of a student pilot certificate is required prior to exercising the privileges of a student pilot certificate (i.e., prior to solo flight). Current estimates indicate this could potentially take three to four weeks.
Since the student pilot certificate will be plastic, flight instructors will only endorse a student’s logbook instead of both their certificates and logbooks. This change takes effect on April 1, 2016. The CFI’s endorsement for a student pilot will remain valid for 90 days. We will provide details as they become available…

About the author

David St. George

David St. George is an FAA DPE (Sport to Multi ATP) and a Part 135 charter pilot flying the Pilatus PC-12 in the NYC area. He recently renewed his Master Instructor for the tenth time and is a Charter member of SAFE. Formerly a 141 Chief Instructor for over 25 years, with a Gold Seal CFI. David started flying at 16 and has logged over 15,000 hours. He owns a 1946 7AC Aeronca Champ and wrote the SAFE Toolkit app.

  • Zoan Harclerode says:

    Currently IACRA recognizes me, in the role of Recommending Instructor, but for the purposes of certifying an applicant for a Student Pilot Certificate, I do not have any authority. The regulation makes me an “authorized individual” but no such role is available to me. Any word on when or how Flight Instructors will be authorized in IACRA.

  • Zoan Harclerode says:

    Will a student pilot be able to apply and receive the new plastic certificate before the paper certificate expires? Example: The unfortunate student whose current student certificate expires 31 March 2016–of course this student could/should get a new paper certificate this month or next. But then what about the student pilot that is about to be deployed and expects to pick up training when he/she returns in 12-18 months & their paper certificate expires while they are away? They often get a month of leave upon their return. This is prime time for training. It would be shameful for our industry to make them waste that time waiting for a new certificate.

  • Zoan Harclerode says:

    One more scenario. Currently an AME may issue a Student Pilot Certificate to a 15 year old who is within 30 days of being 16 years old and therefore eligible to (after meeting all the other regulatory requirements) solo on his/her 16th birthday. Of course the current paper certificate is issued with a notation in the Limitations box, something to the affect of, “not valid for powered flight before mm/dd/yyyy [date of 16th birthday].” As an authorized individual will Flight Instructors be able to certify an IACRA application for a student pilot before they are 16 years old so that they may have the certificate on their 16th birthday? One answer might be for the applicant to see a Glider Flight Instructor who, presumably will be able to certify 14 year olds for student pilot certificates.

  • […] changes found in the the new AC. The new FAA AC 61.65F also provides guidance on how to acquire the new plastic student pilot certificate for your student pilots with IACRA (required after April 1st). Please note that even a DPE will […]


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