Aviation News

January 22, 2016

Why An FAA Rule Change Won’t Stop Student Pilots

Aviation medical examiners will no longer issue student pilot certificates under a new rule adopted by the FAA. Unlike the old rules, starting on April 1 (yes, April Fool’s Day), these new certificates will never expire and students will receive hard plastic certificates, separate from their medical certificate. Currently, a student pilot obtains a combination medical and student pilot certificate (paper) which is valid for a period of 24 or 60 calendar months after the date of issuance, depending on the age of the student pilot.

The incentive behind the change is to give the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) a chance to review student pilot applications to help screen for possible terrorists before they solo an aircraft and eventually receive a pilot’s license. Students will still have to pass a standard flight physical before they are allowed to solo and Aviation Medical Examiners (AME) will continue to issue student pilots their medical certifications. Student pilots will apply for their student pilot certificate through a Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), designated pilot examiner, flight school, or flight instructor.

While change is hard, and none of us believe this will be a smooth process for anyone, this won’t deter potential pilots from pursuing their passion. Pilots are not like everyone else. They don’t just quit because they have to fill out some extra paperwork or jump through some extra hoops. The pilot personality takes each step with grace and while they easily acknowledge the frustration, and smirk at the inefficiency behind the process, their desire to fly overrides any moments of annoyance that aviation regulation requires of them. Pilots will push on. If someone quits because of an extra filtering process, then they probably weren’t meant to be a pilot. So, future pilots, carry on…and we’ll wave to you as you fly overhead.

More details are available on the Federal Register.

From the front desk of an FBO to the captain’s seat of a commercial airline, Erika Armstrong has experienced everything in between. Her book “A Chick in the Cockpit is available in paperback and on Kindle now. If you have questions or comments, she can be reached at [email protected] Follow A Chick in the Cockpit on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

(Top image by Vic via Flickr. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) License.)

About the Author

Erika Armstrong



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