CFI Brief: Changes to the Student Pilot Certificate

On Tuesday January 12th, 2016, the FAA issued a final rule changing the process in which a student pilot must obtain a student pilot certificate. Beginning April 1st, 2016, Aviation Medical Examiners (AMEs) will no longer have the ability to issue student applicants a student pilot certificate. Now, rather than receiving a paper student pilot certificate or combination medical/student pilot certificate from your AME, applicants will receive a plastic certificate. This certificate will be similar in nature to all other pilot and flight instructor certificates like the one pictured below.

Student Pilot Certificate

14 CFR 61.85 outlines the new application process that the applicant must go through.

§61.85 Application.
An applicant for a student pilot certificate:
(a) Must make that application in a form acceptable to the Administrator; and
(b) Must submit the application to a Flight Standards District Office, a designated pilot examiner, an airman certification representative associated with a pilot school, a flight instructor, or other person authorized by the Administrator.

Let’s break it down into two easy steps.

1. As the student applicant you will need to fill out an application form known as an 8710-1 (Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application) or the electronic variant IACRA (Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application).

2. Next you must in person submit your completed application to one of the following, Flight Standards District Office, Designated Pilot Examiner, Certified Flight Instructor, or Airman Certification Representative.

A big difference now is the fact that you will not immediately be issued a certificate. Once the application is submitted the information will go through a security vetting by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Upon successful completion of the vetting process the information will be passed on to the Civil Aviation Registry who will then issue a plastic student pilot certificate to the applicant (the certificate will show up in the mail). As to exactly how long this process takes we do not yet know, FAA estimates are 3 weeks. The good news is that the certificate will be issued with no expiration date; previously student pilot certificates expired after 24 months, this is no longer the case.

Just like before you may begin your flight training prior to receiving your certificate, however you will not be able to conduct solo flight until your certificate is in hand including all of the proper endorsements from your CFI. On that front, instructors will no longer endorse a student’s pilot certificate for solo operating privileges; all endorsements will now be given in the student’s logbook.

These changes will go into effect April 1st, 2016. If you have question please feel free to contact me [email protected] or your local FSDO.

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