The FAA has replied to AOPA about its proposal to require pilots to carry a valid, government-issued form of photo identification when flying. That photo ID could be a driver's license, passport, state ID card, or government agency photo ID card.
The FAA called the AOPA proposal "a positive short-term measure to enhance security throughout the general aviation community." The FAA told AOPA today that it has begun drafting a regulatory document that considers the specifics of the proposal. Today's letter is in response to a petition submitted by AOPA in February.
AOPA President Phil Boyer calls the upcoming rule a common-sense approach to addressing security concerns. "The rule will provide positive identification of pilots at minimal cost to the government and virtually no cost or inconvenience to pilots." AOPA checked and found that all 50 states and the District of Columbia already have in place the infrastructure to issue photo IDs in the form of driver's licenses or state ID cards. Since virtually everyone old enough to fly holds one of those forms of ID, there would be no immediate need to reissue pilot licenses with photos at a potential cost of millions of dollars.
AOPA offered the proposal, in part, to answer public demands to "do something" to enhance GA security. Already several state legislatures have drafted ill-considered bills to issue state pilot licenses. "If the responsible pilots of America don't offer reasonable security proposals, others will impose their own 'solutions,'" said Boyer. "And we won't like what they come up with."
AOPA had asked the FAA to issue the photo ID proposal as a "direct final rule" so that it could be implemented quickly. However, the FAA's response to AOPA did not indicate whether the agency would rule directly or submit the proposal to the lengthy rulemaking process.