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EAA Exploring Solutions to Issues in New Student Pilot Rule

April 28, 2016 - On April 1, a new FAA rule took effect that requires student pilots to apply for a student pilot certificate through a Flight Standards District Office, designated pilot examiner, flight school, or certified flight instructor. Student pilot certificates are no longer issued through aviation medical examiners in combination with a medical certificate. This rule is a response to the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) passed by Congress in 2004 and facilitates the requirement in the law for TSA security vetting of individuals applying for student pilot certificates.

Due to a six to eight week waiting period, the TSA background check process creates complications for those who want to have a valid student pilot certificate to solo on their earliest birthday of eligibility. Though a workaround exists for students who wish to solo in powered aircraft on their 16th birthday, there is currently no fix for students who wish to solo in gliders on their 14th birthday. EAA raised concerns over these complications in comments submitted to the original Notice of Proposed Rulemaking published in 2011.

The FAA rulemaking process will be lengthy to accomplish a needed fix. Though a solution was not found before the rule took effect, EAA is exploring quicker fixes to enable those youth pursuing training to have a path forward.    

EAA recognizes and respects the long-held aviation tradition of soloing on one’s earliest birthday of eligibility. Though security rules have evolved due to a changing world, no youth should be prevented from flying their first solo on the earliest date that the Federal Aviation Regulations allow. EAA will continue to work to ensure young student pilots are not forgotten in the implementation of this new rule. 

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