CFI Brief: Changes to the Student Pilot Certificate

On Tuesday January 12th, 2016, the FAA issued a final rule changing the process in which a student pilot must obtain a student pilot certificate. Beginning April 1st, 2016, Aviation Medical Examiners (AMEs) will no longer have the ability to issue student applicants a student pilot certificate. Now, rather than receiving a paper student pilot certificate or combination medical/student pilot certificate from your AME, applicants will receive a plastic certificate. This certificate will be similar in nature to all other pilot and flight instructor certificates like the one pictured below.


Student Pilot Certificate

14 CFR 61.85 outlines the new application process that the applicant must go through.

§61.85 Application.
An applicant for a student pilot certificate:
(a) Must make that application in a form acceptable to the Administrator; and
(b) Must submit the application to a Flight Standards District Office, a designated pilot examiner, an airman certification representative associated with a pilot school, a flight instructor, or other person authorized by the Administrator.

Let’s break it down into two easy steps.

1. As the student applicant you will need to fill out an application form known as an 8710-1 (Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application) or the electronic variant IACRA (Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application).

2. Next you must in person submit your completed application to one of the following, Flight Standards District Office, Designated Pilot Examiner, Certified Flight Instructor, or Airman Certification Representative.

A big difference now is the fact that you will not immediately be issued a certificate. Once the application is submitted the information will go through a security vetting by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Upon successful completion of the vetting process the information will be passed on to the Civil Aviation Registry who will then issue a plastic student pilot certificate to the applicant (the certificate will show up in the mail). As to exactly how long this process takes we do not yet know, FAA estimates are 3 weeks. The good news is that the certificate will be issued with no expiration date; previously student pilot certificates expired after 24 months, this is no longer the case.

Just like before you may begin your flight training prior to receiving your certificate, however you will not be able to conduct solo flight until your certificate is in hand including all of the proper endorsements from your CFI. On that front, instructors will no longer endorse a student’s pilot certificate for solo operating privileges; all endorsements will now be given in the student’s logbook.

These changes will go into effect April 1st, 2016. If you have question please feel free to contact me or your local FSDO.

[] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [Reddit] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]


  1. Posted January 18, 2016 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    This rule states that”Next you must in person submit your completed application to one of the following, Flight Standards District Office, Designated Pilot Examiner, Certified Flight Instructor, or Airman Certification Representative.”
    How will a Certified Flight Instructor complete this submission? Will it be like a sign off in IACRA?
    Can an administrator of a Part 61 school help students with this process and be an Airman Certification Representative?
    How will Instructors endorse the student Pilot Certificate for solo flights, or will Instructors need to add this additional endorsement, referencing their student pilot certificate number into the logbook?

  2. Posted January 21, 2016 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Hi Patti,
    Thanks for your comment, let me try to address some of your questions. Yes the CFI will sign and complete an applicant’s IACRA and submit it to the administrator. The summary of the final rule calls for an Airman Certification Representatives associated with a Part 141 School. The regulation itself 61.85(b) does also state any person authorized by the administrator, so it could be possible to become authorized. Although the exact requirements I am not sure. The student pilot certificate will no longer be endorsed; all required endorsements will be done in the student’s logbook per 61.87. You can read the full rule and updated regulations here.

  3. Nate Booth
    Posted March 17, 2016 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Since this new process will vet the applicant through the TSA is it still required that a CFI get and keep a copy of a state issued ID from the student pilot?

  4. Doug CFI
    Posted April 11, 2016 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    What if a student has not completed training yet and the medical/student pilot certificate hasn’t expired yet. Can that student fill out IACRA etc. before the current certificate expires and still fly on the current certificate until the plastic student pilot certificate arrives? Or will that student have to pay the $2 and request a plastic duplicate by mail? Any other options? Goal here is to keep students flying without delay for paperwork. How can students continue to fly without delay who are not expired but will soon expire.

  5. Posted April 14, 2016 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    If your student already has a valid medical/student pilot combo certificate they are still good to fly until it expires. If they wish to obtain the new plastic certificate they can do so and still use the privileges of their old combo medical/student pilot certificate up until it expires. As you stated this will prevent any delay in training if indeed their certificate is due to expire soon.

  6. Andrea
    Posted April 18, 2016 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Hi Patti-

    When the prospective student fills out the IACRA, does the CFI go on and electronically sign it (like what a recommending instructor does for a check ride) or it needs to be printed, signed and turned in in person by either the student or the CFI to the FSDO?

  7. Posted April 20, 2016 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Hi Andrea,

    The IACRA is completed, signed, and submitted online all electronically.

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *


You may want to put some text here



Get this Wordpress newsletter widget
for newsletter software