No joke! Effective April 1, 2016, Aviation Medical Examiners (AME) will no longer be able to issue student pilot certificates. The FAA has released a final rule that will require student pilots to apply for a plastic student pilot certificate from a FSDO, DPE, a Part 141 flight school, or a flight instructor. Advisory Circular 61-65F was also updated to reflect these chages.
The Good News
The new plastic student pilot certificate will not expire.
For now, the FAA is not charging a fee for the certificate.
The “Annoying” News
Because part of this new application process stems from TSA efforts to vet pilots, students cannot be immediately issued a temporary certificate on the spot. However, recent updates to IACRA should reduce the processing time to less than a week and allow a student to print a temporary certificate from their home computer at that time.
Student pilots will still have to visit an AME for a medical certificate.
We hope that a student pilot who is ready to solo won't loose motivation waiting for approval for his or her student pilot certificate.
Just like before, a student can certainly continue their training with an instructor. However, no flying solo until student certificate arrives (or the temporary is issued and printed).
CFIs no longer endorse the student pilot certificate. All endorsements should be made in the student’s logbook.
In order for a CFI to accept the certificate application, he or she must be registered in IACRA as the role of "Recommending Instructor."
The application for a student pilot certificate can be completed by filling out an 8710-1 form or online through IACRA. Student pilots who currently hold a paper student pilot certificate may continue using it until its expiration date. For more information, check out this chart from AOPA and Advisory Circular 61-65F.
*This blog was originally posted on January 15 and was updated on November 15, 2016 to add information about the availability of temporary student pilot certificates.