You are not required to have a student pilot certificate to take flying lessons. You will need a student pilot certificate to be able to fly solo. You must meet the eligibility criteria.
You will have to fill out a paper Federal Aviation Association (FAA) 8710-1 application form. Alternatively, you can fill out an online application through the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) website.
If you apply directly through the online service, your application will be processed faster and you also will not have to pay. You can submit your application to the Flight Standards District Office.
If you do not wish to submit your application through the office, you will have to submit your application to an authorized official. The officials are allowed to charge you a reasonable fee for processing your application.
These include a certified flight instructor (chances are, you will already have been taking lessons with one), an FAA-designated pilot examiner, or an airman certification representative associated with a part 141 flight school.
Your application will be submitted, processed, and your certificate will be mailed to the address on your application within 3 weeks if it is approved.
In some cases, you may be able to print a temporary copy of your certificate at home.
How long is a student pilot certificate valid?
As of April 1st, 2016, student pilot certificates no longer expire. They will be superseded once a higher qualification has been obtained, such as your private pilot’s license.
If you obtained a student pilot certificate before this date, they would have an expiry date and would have expired either 24 or 60 months after issue.
Your medical certificate will be valid for 60 months if you are below the age of 40. If you are aged 40-50, your medical certificate will be valid for 24 months.
For both the student pilot certificate and medical certificate, you can apply again for new certificates once they expire.
You should make sure that you have a valid student pilot certificate and medical certificate with you before piloting an aircraft in a solo flight.
Once you have obtained a higher qualification, you will hand over your student pilot certificate.
What are the two requirements for obtaining a student pilot certificate?
To obtain a student pilot certificate, you must be at least sixteen years old. However, if you are planning to pilot a glider or balloon, you must be at least fourteen years old.
You can take lessons without a student pilot certificate. It is best for children under 16 years of age to take flying lessons to boost confidence with aircrafts before applying for the certificate.
There is no minimum age, necessarily, to take lessons.
If you are not waiting to apply due to age, it is encouraged that you apply early on in your lessons for your certificate as otherwise your progress may be halted while you wait for it to be processed.
In addition to the age limit, The FAA (Federal Aviation Authority) and ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) state that you have to be able to read, write, and fluently speak in English.
All pilots that fly under their organizations must have the ICAO “Level 4” English ability.
Although these are the two main requirements for you to obtain a student pilot certificate, you will also need a valid medical certificate from an FAA-designated Aviation Medical Examiner (AME).
A minimum of a third-class medical certificate is required. Also, you will need to be able to provide proof of your identity to an authorized person, such as a certified flight instructor.
What can I do with a student pilot certificate?
Once your application has been approved, the FAA will mail you your student pilot certificate. Your certificate will be a small plastic card that will specify that you are a student pilot.
You must carry your medical certificate and student pilot certificate with you whenever you are piloting an aircraft for a solo flight.
Obtaining a student pilot certificate will allow you to fly an aircraft solo if you have been signed off by your instructor.
You must have the correct endorsement in your logbook for the make and model of aircraft that you will be operating.
To make solo local and cross-country flights, you will have to receive separate endorsements from your instructor.
Nighttime flights, flights to other airports, and flights occurring within restricted airspace also require different endorsements. All endorsements are placed in your student logbook.
You must also have separate endorsements for each make or model of aircraft that you wish to fly. You must always adhere to any restrictions from your flight instructor that are placed in your pilot’s logbook.
These limitations are there for your safety and are dependent on your skill level. Also, you cannot carry passengers or property for hire or compensation.
There are also limitations on flying visibility. You must also have a visual reference to the surface to fly.
There must be a flight or surface visibility of less than 3 statute miles during daylight hours or 5 statute miles at night.
How long are student pilot certificates?
Since April 1st, 2016, the student pilot certificates issued by the FAA do not expire. When you obtain a higher qualification, such as your pilot’s license, you must surrender your student certificate as it will be superseded.
Although there is no expiry for student pilot certificates, endorsements for student pilots tend to last for around 90 days.
Endorsements are given after instructors have fully assessed your skill level, the weather conditions for your time of flight, and your preparation.
All endorsements will be made through the pilot logbook and are recorded there for future use. If you change instructors, you do not need to redo your endorsements unless they have expired.
The pilot logbook has space for 1600 entries and so will last a pilot 5-10 years on average.