Administrator Marion Blakey announced late last week that the FAA plans to begin issuing new airman certificates, replacing the current paper with plastic credit-card-sized certificates that incorporate security features.
"AOPA has been urging the FAA to revamp pilots' certificates," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "This new certificate will benefit pilots because it is sturdier and less likely to become lost or damaged, and at the same time addresses many of the concerns for security officials.
"The new certificate complements an AOPA proposal that the FAA turned into a rule, requiring pilots to carry a government-issued photo ID as well as a pilot certificate, that effectively addressed the identity issue."
The FAA will issue the new certificates as pilots achieve higher levels or additional ratings, and as lost or damaged certificates are replaced.
In addition, pilots who would like to replace their paper certificate with the new plastic one may submit an application to replace a lost or destroyed certificate, along with the $2 fee. When the new certificate arrives, it becomes the pilot's valid certificate, and the old paper certificate should be destroyed.
In her announcement, Blakey said, "The new certificate's durability and features will further protect pilot identities and add one more element of security to our aviation system."
In keeping with this year's Centennial of Flight celebration, the new certificate features graphics of the Wright brothers, 1902 Wright Glider, 1903 Wright Flyer, a jet aircraft, DOT seal, and a hologram of the FAA seal.