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FAA explains student certificate changes

The FAA has published an advisory circular that explains how the process of applying for and issuing student pilot certificates will change when new procedures go into effect April 1.

AOPA recommends that student pilot applicants and flight instructors review the guidance provided in the new Advisory Circular AC 61-65F about fundamental changes the rule makes to the process of acquiring a student pilot certificate, said Justin Barkowski, AOPA director of regulatory affairs. The association has carefully monitored implementation of the rule since it was finalized in January.

After April 1, it will no longer be possible to receive a student pilot certificate from an aviation medical examiner.

Most applicants will apply through a flight instructor, who must register to use the FAA’s web-based Integrated Airman Certification and/or Rating Application (IACRA) or submit a paper Form 8710-1 to the FAA. The agency will send the certificate by mail within approximately three weeks of the application date, according to the advisory circular.

It also will be possible to make application through FAA inspectors at the local Flight Standards District Office, designated pilot examiners (DPEs), or airman certificate representatives from a Part 141 flight school.

The advisory circular provides guidance for flight instructors on how to register to use the IACRA system to process an application. It also gives guidance to CFIs on how to ensure that an applicant meets eligibility requirements for the student pilot certificate and how such eligibility is verified on an IACRA application. The publication explains what steps a student pilot applicant must complete on his or her IACRA application before a flight instructor or other authorized person can process the form (which will be stored in the system with a unique tracking number pending completion of the application process).

The new advisory circular—which supersedes the previous edition published in 2005—also sets forth how a flight instructor should issue an endorsement for a student pilot prior to solo. Revisions to recommended sample endorsements to be used by authorized instructors when endorsing student pilot logbooks are also included.

The new Appendix 2 provides expanded guidance for verifying a student applicant’s identity, gives examples of acceptable forms of identification, and addresses recordkeeping requirements.

Although the changes contained in the advisory circular primarily addressed the revised student pilot certificate application process, a number of additional changes were made throughout the document. There is increased emphasis on ensuring that pilot applicants satisfy English Language proficiency—which must be assessed at the time of application and during each training and testing event.

The advisory circular also expands guidance on determining the expiration date of a flight instructor certificate renewal, and provides illustrative examples.

Review the AC for updates and revisions to many other recommended sample endorsements for use by authorized individuals when endorsing pilots’ logbooks.

Withdrawn from the final rule was the FAA’s plan to require photos on all new pilot certificates—a proposal AOPA had strongly opposed.

AOPA created this podcast that summarizes the changes to the student pilot certificate application process.

“AOPA will monitor the FAA’s response to applications to ensure that student pilot certificates are issued as soon as practical and that students are not being held back from soloing and completing their flight training,” Barkowski said. AOPA also has requested that the FAA establish a method for allowing a student pilot to solo on his or her 16th birthday (or 14th birthday in the case of gliders), an option not available under the revised application process.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Advocacy, Training and Safety

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