The FAA has reformed the student pilot certificate application process in order to comply with the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA), which requires each applicant to be screened by TSA before the FAA issues him or her a student pilot certificate. Thus, the FAA’s rule was in accordance with a congressional mandate.
A student applicant will receive his or her student pilot certificate upon successful completion of security vetting by the TSA, which the FAA estimates to take three weeks or less from the application date. However, AOPA is monitoring this time to ensure that the FAA processes the applications as expeditiously as possible.
No. Under the current system, the FAA already sends a student’s biographic information to TSA for vetting after an aviation medical examiner or other authorized individual issues the student his or her student pilot certificate. This final rule simply changes when the vetting occurs—TSA will now vet the student before the FAA issues the student pilot certificate.
The vetting process consists of TSA checking an applicant’s biographic information against the terrorist watch lists maintained by the federal government. This is not a new requirement. The Jan. 12 final rule also does not change the nature of this security vetting.
No. The Jan. 12 final rule does not modify the TSA citizenship verification requirement set forth in 49 CFR § 1552.3(h).
Foreign and domestic student pilots are affected the same way. Foreign student pilots must first proceed through the TSA’s Alien Flight Student Program (AFSP) before they can begin flight training. This final rule will have no effect on AFSP. Foreign student pilots must still complete AFSP. After completion and receipt of approval, foreign student pilots will proceed through the new application process in the same manner as a domestic student pilot (i.e., receiving a medical certificate and separately applying for a student pilot certificate before soloing).
No. The final rule does not require a separate application to the FAA for additional ratings, but instead continues the current endorsement process. For a student pilot to operate an aircraft in solo flight, a CFI must endorse that student’s logbook (instead of the paper certificate) for the specific make and model aircraft to be flown.
Under the final rule, a student pilot must meet the minimum eligibility requirements (e.g., 16 years of age to solo an airplane) before the student can submit an application to the FAA and begin the process of obtaining a student pilot certificate. However, AOPA has requested that the FAA establish a method for allowing a student pilot to solo on his or her sixteenth birthday (or fourteenth birthday in the case of gliders).