Still hanging onto your paper pilot certificate? You’ll need to upgrade to a plastic pilot certificate by March 31, 2010. The FAA released its final rule on Feb. 28, announcing the required switch to the certificate it deems is more counterfeit resistant. When the FAA proposed this mandate in 2005, AOPA members overwhelmingly supported the move to a more secure certificate.
If you are attached to your paper certificate and original issuance date (the plastic certificate will have a new one), don’t worry. You can keep your paper certificate for nostalgia; you just can’t use it to fly. If you do miss the 2010 deadline, you won’t have to take a checkride or any exams to get back in the air as pilot in command. Simply request the plastic certificate.
Temporary, student, and flight instructor certificates are not impacted by this rule. Those with nonpilot certificates, such as ground instructors, flight engineers, and mechanics, will have until March 31, 2013 to change to a plastic certificate.
Pilots can request the plastic certificate through the FAA’s Web site. The cost is $2. However, if you change your pilot certificate number from your Social Security number, the switch is free.
Because the FAA is currently processing replacement certificate for pilots who fly internationally to meet the “English proficient” endorsement required by the International Civil Aviation Organization, pilots might want to wait a few weeks before requesting a plastic certificate to prevent a backlog.
February 28, 2008