Safety: Additional Duties as Assigned

Sorting out the new Student Pilot Certificate

Congratulations! You’ve just been given additional duties and responsibilities courtesy of the FAA. Starting April 1, 2016 a CFI is now one of the authorized individuals to accept an application for a student pilot certificate. Now what?

Well, first get a copy of Advisory Circular 61-65F, Certification: Pilots and Flight and Ground Instructors and become familiar with the sections addressing Student Pilot Certificates. After that you’re probably going to want to introduce your students to the joys and wonders of Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) at the very beginning of their training instead of towards the end of it. Why? Well, in order to get a student pilot certificate your client needs to go through a TSA security vetting process that the FAA estimates will take three or fewer weeks to complete from the time your student applies for the certificate until it is issued. If you have a student who is really flying through the flight training process having that new plastic student pilot certificate in hand prior to solo is now required and they won’t get it when they go for their flight physical with the aviation medical examiner anymore. Remember the regulations require a student pilot to have their certificate physically with them when operating an aircraft in solo flight. No plastic ticket, no flying and more importantly, no soloing. Not even the first solo.

What about accelerated training? That is a good question, the new regulation knocks that into a corner and while student pilot certificates will get priority in processing in Oklahoma City, it is very possible your client will complete all required dual training prior to receiving the student pilot certificate. The FAA is not issuing a temporary student pilot certificate while they process the application for a student pilot certificate. The best advice will be to have the student apply for the student pilot certificate as soon as they even think about learning to fly, not wait until they show up for the first day of training. There is nothing that stops them from applying for the certificate even if they are just starting to think about pursuing training.

Well, what about endorsements? Very simply, they all go in the student pilot’s logbook now. There is no longer a requirement to endorse the back of the student pilot certificate and no space on the certificate to make an endorsement. The language of the endorsements doesn’t change, you still need to endorse them for the specific make and model aircraft to be flown, and it still requires an updated endorsement every 90 days until they take their check ride. Solo cross-country endorsements are now made in the logbook for specific aircraft category to be flown as well as specific make and model and each solo cross-country flight after review of the cross-country planning.

A positive benefit to this is that the new plastic student pilot certificate doesn’t expire anymore, just like all the other pilot certificates. They will have to get a new medical if their training time exceeds their expiration date of their medical certificate. Oh, and the logbook endorsements for solo still have the same expiration periods (think the 90-day solo endorsement) that will need to be kept up, but the certificate itself doesn't expire anymore.

What about your students that currently have a paper student pilot certificate? Those will still be effective until their expiration date 24 or 60 months from the date of issuance. If your student does have a paper certificate that is not yet expired, they can request a new plastic certificate for $2 from the FAA through the Airman Services Replace an Airman Certificate web page.

As this new rule goes into effect, AOPA will continue to monitor the implementation to make sure the FAA is issuing student pilot certificates promptly. As mentioned previously, the FAA told us that Student Pilot certificates will take priority in issuing. We certainly don’t want this new requirement to unnecessarily delay students from soloing or completing their flight training.

Some suggested tips for making this work well for your clients.

Fly the introductory flight. If they are hooked, sit down with them, help them create their IACRA profile, and apply for a student pilot certificate. Provide them with the list of AME’s in your area and have them make an appointment for a medical certificate (if required). Have them bring the TSA-required proof of citizenship documents (a state issued driver's license, a military or other government agency issued ID, or a passport are still the most commonly acceptable forms) to the next lesson.

If they’re not hooked yet, make that next appointment, explain that you’ll be helping them to create the IACRA profile then, tell them why and ask them to bring their TSA-required documents.

Have a plan to train them beyond solo so that they are not waiting around for a certificate but are advancing through the training. Yes, this is not the way we’ve always done it, but the times they are a changing.

Do be up front with your clients about the regulation, explain that while the process may take a little bit longer, they can continue training with you and don’t have to stop and wait to get the certificate. This may not be applicable at Part 141 schools.

Make sure they have their required forms of identification to speed the process along and check, recheck and check again that everything matches on the 8710 Form, is correctly spelled and is in the proper format to speed up the IACRA process.

Please share this information with the flight instructors in your club and at your airport. More information is available online at:

John Collins is the Chief Flight Instructor and Manager of Aviation Safety Programs for ASI.  A pilot since 1985 and a flight instructor since 1996, he enjoys the look on a student’s face when they “get it.”

Safe pilots are always learning, and the Air Safety Institute’s goal is to ensure pilots have a wealth of information to keep flying safely. Our educational programs are funded through donations from pilots dedicated to forwarding that mission. Show your support by donating to the AOPA Foundation today (

Topics: FAA Information and Services, Training and Safety, Navigation

Related Articles