To apply for a student pilot certificate you need to check if you are eligible for one. According to FAA guidelines, you are eligible for a student pilot certificate if you are at least 16 years of age.
However, if you want to pilot a balloon or glider, then you must be at least 14 years old. You must also be able to speak, understand and read English.
Once you apply, you need to complete an application form via the IACRA (Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application).
You can do this on their website or on paper using the FAA 8710-1 form which must be submitted to the FSDO (Flight Standards District Office).
Alternatively, you can also submit it to an FAA-designated pilot examiner, a certified flight instructor, or an airman certification representative part of the 141 flight school.
Your application will then be processed by the authorized person you submitted it to. Then, the required documents will be submitted to the Airman Certification Branch to be reviewed.
Upon successfully completing the application, your student pilot certificate will be sent to your address. It should take up to three weeks to arrive. If you need it sooner, make sure to apply via the IACRA. This route will take less time.
Can a student pilot solo with a temporary certificate?
A student pilot certificate will be issued to a pilot in training and acts as a prerequisite for the student pilot to fly solo (alone in the aircraft).
You should receive your temporary certificate once your application form has been approved, this will take up to two weeks, and after you have been vetted.
Then, you will receive an email confirming that you can print out your temporary certificate.
The temporary certificate can be used for the pilot to fly alone in the aircraft until the official certificate arrives.
A student pilot certificate will not always arrive immediately before a solo flight, but it is required. Once you achieve a student pilot certificate you may be able to carry out a solo flight in the very near future.
On top of a student pilot certificate you will also require a medical certificate. This will be issued separately by the AME (Aviation Medical Examiner).
You want to aim for a first-class medical certificate in order to know if you are likely to pass more vigorous tests.
Do student pilot certificates expire?
While this used to be an issue, from April 1, 2016, student pilot certificates no longer expire.
Instead, the certificate will just be superseded by the higher qualification once the student pilot successfully completes their higher certification.
However, student pilot certificates issued before April 2016 will still expire according to their expiration dates. This will be either 24 or 60 months from the date it was first issued.
If your student pilot certificate has expired, you cannot renew it but, you can just get a new one.
There is no cost involved with applying for a student pilot certificate so long as it is applied for directly with the FSDO (Flight Standards District Office).
If it is applied for with an airman certification representative associated with a 141 flight school, an FAA-designated pilot examiner, or a certified flight instructor, you may be charged a fee for processing the application for a student pilot certificate.
The fee will depend on what the individual charges for this service.
It’s also worth noting that the student pilot certificate is no longer part of the same document as the medical certificate. You will also need to ensure your medical certificate is in date.
Do you need student pilot certificates to solo?
Yes, you need to have been issued with a student pilot certificate in order to fly solo.
However, if you are still waiting for your permanent certificate to arrive in the mail and have been allowed to print off your temporary certificate, you can still fly solo.
On top of a student pilot certificate, you may also require further documentation in order to take off on certain solo flights.
For example, if you solo in more than one make or model of aircraft, you must have an endorsement for each on your logbook.
Your flight instructor must be the one to make this endorsement before your fly alone in each different make and model aircraft.
An endorsement will also not enable you to fly solo on cross-country flights. You will need to get an additional endorsement from your flight instructor for this.
Endorsements will no longer be logged on a paper student pilot certificate. Instead, with a new student pilot certificate, all solo endorsements should be placed in the student logbook.
Any previous endorsements on a paper student pilot certificate, however, must be left as per the requirements of the training record.
You must carry your student pilot certificate and medical certificate with you when flying solo.
What is an 8710 form?
An 8710 form (also referred to as an 8710-1 or 8710-11 form) is used to record the Proficiency Check.
A Proficiency Check is a form completed by an applicant who holds a FAA pilot certificate but would like to fly another category or class of aircraft at the ‘Sport Pilot Level’.
Sport Pilot Level aircraft are designed for aviation hobbyists. The certification process for this level is much easier to obtain and doesn’t require a medical certificate. It was created to encourage more people to fly.
Those with a Sport Pilot certificate only, will be restricted to lighter, lower-powered aircraft. They are also unable to fly at night. They are however, cheaper to obtain because they require fewer lessons with an instructor.
The 8710 form will be signed off by the recommending instructor and issued to the instructor who performs the Proficiency Check before the flight.
Only an FAA authorized flight instructor is able to carry out a Proficiency Check.
An 8710 form must be mailed to the Airman Certification Branch within 10 days.