FAA proposes to revamp Part 61 regulations on pilot certification

July 2, 2007

FAA proposes to revamp Part 61 regulations on pilot certification

Flight simulator

The FAA is proposing a major overhaul of its pilot certification regulations - FAR Part 61 - that includes more than 200 changes.

Many of those improvements, like longer duration student pilot certificates and no expiration date on CFI certificates, stem from years of AOPA advocacy.

"This only happens once a decade, so we're working to get the most benefits for AOPA members now," said Melissa Rudinger, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs. "We're also sifting through the 50-page proposal to make sure nothing gets added that would negatively impact pilots and aircraft owners."

The FAA is proposing three of AOPA's four major recommendations.

  • Allow CFIs to keep the same certificates while renewing their privileges every two years

In the 1990s the AOPA Air Safety Foundation petitioned the FAA for this change. Removing the expiration date from the flight instructor certificate would allow the agency to focus on the currency of an instructor's privileges in the same manner as nearly all other pilot and mechanic certificates and ratings.

  • Extend the duration of a student pilot certificate to coincide with the duration of a third class medical certificate

This move would make a student pilot certificate good for 36 months for those under 40, and 24 months for those 40 and over.

  • Allow the use of personal computer-based aviation training devices (PCATDs) to meet instrument currency, requirements for logbook entries, and credit for use of a flight simulator or flight training device (FTD) for the private and commercial pilot certificates

Driver's license medical for recreational pilots is the only AOPA recommendation the FAA rejected.

"This latest rejection of a driver's license medical won't stop us from pushing for it," Rudinger said. "This is something AOPA has advocated since it proposed the recreational certificate in 1978."

AOPA's first look at the proposal also revealed some concern about a change to section 61.3.

Pilots in the past have been required to carry their "valid" pilot certificate, but the FAA's amendment would require pilots to carry a "current and valid" pilot certificate. AOPA believes this would force pilots to carry their logbook in their personal possession or in the airplane to prove that they have had a flight review.

"We will oppose this requirement because it would impose an undue burden on our members," Rudinger said. "Many pilots don't carry their logbooks because they could get lost or destroyed."

AOPA will continue to carefully sort through the recommended changes and provide updates.

February 7, 2007