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EAA Aids Student Glider Pilot in Petition to FAA

June 2, 2016 - In April, EAA shared news on its efforts to find a solution to major complications caused by new student pilot rules recently released by the FAA. Due to provisions in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, student pilots must now pass a TSA background check to obtain a student pilot certificate. That background check can take six to eight weeks to complete, and the regulations as written require student glider or private pilots to be 14 or 16 years of age, respectively, to apply for the check.

Though a workaround exists for students who wish to solo in powered aircraft on their 16th birthday, it remains impossible for student glider pilots to solo on their earliest birthday of eligibility. Rulemaking to change this situation is on the horizon, but the process is lengthy. As a result, EAA started working to find an immediate fix to preserve this long-held tradition in aviation.

Experts in the process for filing a petition for exemption to FAA regulations, the EAA government advocacy team aided an aspiring glider pilot and his father in crafting a petition to allow him to apply for the TSA background check before his 14th birthday. The petition, if granted, will allow him to clear the TSA background check well before his 14th birthday, opening the door for him to join the ranks of the many aviators who have soloed an aircraft on their earliest birthday of eligibility.

The petition does not ask for an exemption for all student glider pilots, but takes the first steps in allowing future students to follow a similar path until rule changes fix the issues associated with the background check process. EAA will closely monitor the petition as it makes its way through the FAA approval process.

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