Changes from 2000 to 2006

Sport Pilot and Light Sport Aircraft

The Sport Pilot and Light Sport Aircraft rule was introduced to the GA industry in 2004 for sport pilots, light sport aircraft, and light sport aircraft repairmen. This rule allows many pilots to fly with a valid driver's license in lieu of a medical certificate and creates new, more efficient ways to become a pilot. More details of the Sport Pilot rule and how it might affect you can be found on the AOPA Web site, or you can call AOPA's Pilot Information Center at 800/872-2672.

Pilots Are Required to Carry a Photo ID

The FAA adopted AOPA’s pilot ID petition in October of 2002. In order to provide a simple, inexpensive means to positively identify pilots, AOPA asked FAA to change the rules to require pilots to carry a government-issued photo ID along with their pilot certificate. Pilots are required to carry photo identification acceptable to the administrator when exercising the privileges of a pilot certificate. Additionally, pilots are required to present photo identification when requested by the administrator, an authorized representative of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) or Transportation Security Administration (TSA), or a law enforcement officer.

VFR Waypoints Help Pilots Navigate

ChartVFR waypoints were added to some sectional charts, thanks to an effort initiated by AOPA and the Air Safety Foundation. The waypoints help pilots identify and navigate around Class B and C airspace. The waypoints, which are slated to be added to GPS databases, also help pilots identify the boundaries of Restricted Areas and Military Operations Areas (MOAs).

Aircraft Radio Station Licenses No Longer Required

Licenses for radios aboard aircraft were no longer necessary for U.S.-registered aircraft unless you are flying outside of the United States. A similar law requiring pilots to carry an FCC restricted radiotelephone operator permit with their pilot's certificate was dropped in 1985. Pilots flying outside the United States still need both FCC permits.


CubIf your plans include flying a taildragger and you did not fly one before April 1991, you'll need a special endorsement in your logbook. That endorsement must show that you've received training in normal and crosswind landings, as well as wheel landings.

61.1 Definition of cross-country changed

The regulations covering logging of cross-country time now say that pilots working toward their private, instrument, or commercial certificates must have a landing at a point that is at least 50 nautical miles straight-line distance from the original point of departure. For ATP candidates, the distance is still 50 nm, but no landing is necessary. 61.31 Additional training required for high performance aircraft, and definition added for complex aircraft. While a checkout for high-performance aircraft has been a requirement for many years, the FAA has now added a "complex" term to the mix.

Logging of PIC time

You must now have specific, individual training and a logbook endorsement to act as PIC in 61.51. Recreational, private, commercial, and airline transport pilots may log PIC time whenever they are the sole manipulator of the controls of an aircraft for which they are rated. Student pilots may now also log solo time as PIC time as well; previously, that time was logged only as "solo" time.

61.57 Instrument Currency

The new regulations eliminated the requirement for six hours of instrument flight time to remain current. Now, pilots must log just six instrument approaches every six months. They must also log holding procedures and intercepting and tracking courses either in actual or simulated flight. Regulations don't specify a minimum time for the holding and intercept/track procedures. Instrument pilots who do not meet these instrument experience requirements must take a ride with a CFII, known as an "instrument proficiency check."

61.65 Instrument rating requirements

If you are a private pilot who once thought of picking up your instrument rating, this regulation change might encourage you to do it. The former 125-hour total time requirement for an instrument rating has been dropped. Now all you need is a private pilot certificate, 50 hours of PIC cross-country time, and 40 hours of simulated or actual instrument time, 15 hours of which must be received from an authorized instrument instructor.

61.109 Changes to solo time requirements

Solo cross-country time required for a private pilot certificate has been lowered from 10 to five hours. The new requirements include a night cross-country of at least 100 nm total distance, but the long 300-mile cross-country requirement has been reduced to 150 nm. The total time of 40 hours for a private ticket remains the same.