Effective April 1, 2016 is a new rule by the FAA which changes the way student pilots are issued their pilot certificates. No longer will a student pilot get their certificate from an Aviation Medical Examiner, but will instead apply either through a FAA-designated pilot examiner, a CFI, an airman certification representative associated with a Part 141 flight school, or in person at FSDO. This is because the student pilot and medical certificate are no longer the same document. Here is what you need to know from the FAA:
Student Pilot’s Certificate Requirements
When do I need a student pilot certificate?
Before you can fly solo. You don’t need a student pilot certificate to take flying lessons.
Am I eligible for a student pilot certificate?
You are eligible if:
- You are at least 16 years old. If you plan to pilot a glider or balloon, you must be at least 14 years old.
- You can read, speak, and understand English
How do I get a student pilot certificate?
You must complete an application through the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) website or by paper using FAA form 8710-1 and submit it to a Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), an FAA-designated pilot examiner, an airman certification representative associated with a part 141 flight school, or a certificated flight instructor. The authorized individual will process your application and submit the required documents to the Airmen Certification Branch. Once, reviewed by Airman Certification Branch, the student pilot certificate will be mailed to the address provided by you on the application.
How long will it be before I receive my student pilot certificate by mail?
In approximately three weeks. Utilizing the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) will minimize this time.
How do I get a medical certificate?
Aviation Medical Examiners (AME) will continue issuing aviation medical certificates. A list of AMEs in your area can be found at http://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/medical_certification.
How long are my student pilot certificate and my medical certificate valid?
Student pilot and medical certificate are no longer the same document, therefore, refer to 14 CFR 61.23 for complete information on duration of a medical certificate.
After April 1, 2016, Student pilot certificates do not expire; the certificate will be surrendered and superseded upon successful completion of the higher certification. Student pilot certificates issued prior to April 1, 2016, will expire according to their expiration date, either 24 or 60 months from the date of issuance.
Can I renew my student certificate or medical certificate?
No, but you can get a new one.
With a new student pilot certificate, is my flight instructor still required to place endorsements on it?
No. All solo endorsements are placed in the student logbook and are no longer required to be on the student pilot certificate. Any previous endorsements on a paper student pilot certificate should be maintained as part of the required training record.
If I solo in more than one make or model of aircraft, must I have an endorsement for each on my logbook?
Yes. Your flight instructor must make this endorsement before you solo in each make or model of aircraft. A list of endorsements can be found in the current addition of Advisory Circular 61.65.
Does the endorsement to solo allow me to make solo cross-country flights?
No. You also have to get a cross-country flight endorsement from your flight instructor.
Must I carry my student pilot certificate and medical certificate with me when I am piloting an aircraft in solo flight?
Is there a charge for the student pilot certificate?
There is no change for application made directly to the Flight Standards District Office (FSDO). However, an FAA-designated pilot examiner, an airman certification representative associated with a part 141 flight school, or a certificated flight instructor can charge a reasonable fee for processing an application for student pilot certificates.
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How To Choose A Flight Training School
- Get some experience - contact multiple schools to see what feels right for you.
- Distance to the airport - make sure the airport is close enough that you can make the trip at least two times per week. If just getting to the airport is tough for you, you’re probably not going to make it through pilot training.
- Facility - clean, organized, and welcoming offices, hangars, and bathrooms say a lot about how a company operates.
- Fleet - take a look at the school’s aircraft. Do they look maintained, or run down? The condition of the aircraft often indicates the overall quality of flight training you’ll receive.
- Instructors - try to meet as many of the instructors as possible before making a purchasing decision. Often, you’ll “click” with a certain instructor, and that can really pay off down the road.
- Payment options - it’s generally a good idea to buy “block” time if the flight training school offers a good discount. However, don’t buy too much time in advance. Avoid schools that require you to “pay 100% up front” as this is a huge red flag.
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