Are you flying on a temporary airman certificate? If you are waiting for your permanent certificate to come in the mail, you might want to keep a close eye on how long it is taking. The FAA is experiencing a delay in issuing airman certificates, and in some cases, it is taking the full 120 days for pilots to receive their permanent certificate.
"The big thing is anticipation," said Kelvin Ampofo, manager of AOPA's Aviation Services department. "If you know that you are going flying the week your temporary certificate expires, plan ahead and request an extension." Temporary certificates, which are issued by your FAA designated pilot examiner (DPE), are good for 120 days.
Members flying on temporary certificates have been calling AOPA's Pilot Information Center (800/USA-AOPA) to find out why they haven't received their permanent airman certificates in the mail. They are concerned because they are nearing the end of their 120 days - and for those who fly for a living, like flight instructors, not having the permanent certificate could mean a loss of income.
However, specialists in the AOPA Pilot Information Center say that so far, the process has not taken more than 120 days, but sometimes the permanent certificate arrives in the mail with just days to spare.
If you are beginning to worry whether you will receive your permanent certificate before your temporary expires, you can call the FAA Airman Certification Branch (866/878-2498) to see if your permanent certificate has been processed and if it is in the mail. AOPA's experts recommend calling a few days before your temporary expires.
If your permanent certificate has not been processed yet, contact your local flight standards district office (FSDO) to request an extension or to have the temporary certificate reissued. FSDOs have varying policies, so you will need to call ahead to see if they require an appointment. You can receive an extension or reissuance (for free) the same day you visit the FSDO. Remember to take identification. For more information, contact AOPA's Pilot Information Center at 800/USA-AOPA or by e-mail.
August 26, 2004