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January 2009 - Welcome to the IAOPA Europe enews which goes to 23,000 aircraft owners and pilots in 27 countries across the continent

IAOPA-Europe e-news, January 2009


Welcome to the bi-monthly e-news of IAOPA-Europe, which goes out to 23,000 AOPA members in 27 countries across Europe.

FAA throws a spanner in the works


The Federal Aviation Administration has set about making life difficult for the tens of thousands of pilots worldwide who hold FAA tickets on the strength of their national licenses. The new policy, unannounced and not subject to any consultation, means that such pilots must now make appointments and travel to the United States in order to amend their licenses – something all must do within the next year.

If you have an FAA licence issued in its own right – that is, if you took a knowledge test and a flight test with a designated FAA examiner – you are unaffected. If, however, your licence was issued on the basis of a JAA or national licence (known as a 61.75 certificate) then you are going to find the going tough.

In brief, the situation is as follows. By March 5th2009, you must have an ‘English Language Proficient’ authorisation on your FAA licence to be able to fly legally. (This is to comply with an ICAO requirement for better English.) If you have a ‘full’ FAA licence you can log onto the FAA website, pay $2 and get your authorisation by post within a couple of weeks. If, however, you have a 61.75, you must use a special form to apply to your licence issuer to have your licence, ratings and medical validated by them, then apply to the FAA for an English Proficient stamp, make an appointment with an FAA District Office in the United States, go there and collect it in person.

The problem is compounded for pilots holding the old-style cardboard 61.75 certificate. The FAA has been issuing credit card style licenses for five years, and the cardboard ones will no longer be legal after March 31st2010. They cannot be exchanged online; a trip to the States is required. But at least you’ve got a year for that one.

Since AOPA first alerted GA to the English Proficient stamp problem in December, it has been working with IAOPA and AOPA-US to obtain some relief for 61.75 holders, in particular a delay to the start date of the ICAO requirement, if only to make it humanly possible to comply. IAOPA has fought against ICAO’s ‘Level 4’ language requirement since it was first proposed, as they are grossly excessive for GA pilots, but has not convinced ICAO to change.

Ways around it?

There are a number of people in Europe claiming to be able to provide English Proficient authorisations for a fee, but when questioned about this, the FAA’s Airmen Certification department told AOPA that the only way to comply is to have your licence first authorised by your own CAA, then apply in person, with an appointment, at an FAA District Office in the United States. No other option is available outside the United States.

Just why the FAA is doing this is not explained. It may be a security measure; in off-the-record conversations with FAA personnel in Oklahoma City, New York and Washington AOPA was told that a lot of dodgy characters had obtained 61.75 licenses and the FAA wants to weed them out. But very few FAA staff anywhere in the world knew of the policy, and some denied its existence.

However, the FAA’s website (see states that unless your FAA certificate has ‘English language proficient’ on it by March 09, you may not exercise the privileges of that certificate. While full licence holders can simply get their stamp online, 61.75 holders who attempt to do so are blocked. Those who attempt to obtain their amended certificates by mail from the Oklahoma City office – the other route specified on the web for full licence holders – have their applications returned marked ‘rejected’.

Under the URL will see, inter alia, the requisite information in the section beginning ‘Foreign License’. If you have a 61.75 certificate, it says, “then you must have the Civil Aviation Authority that issued those certificates verify the validity and currency of the foreign license and medical certificate or endorsement before you apply for an FAA certificate or authorization.”

The information the FAA requires, it goes on, includes “…the location of the FAA Flight Standards District Office where you intend to apply for your US certificate…” and says once your CAA has verified your licence, you will be notified that your certificate has been forwarded to the District Office you specified, to be collected in person within six months.

For some reason, holders of licenses issued by the UK and Australian CAAs are singled out for special treatment. The FAA says: “In addition to the procedures stated under Verification of Authenticity of Foreign license, Rating and Medical Certification above, airmen from the United Kingdom or Australia must contact their respective CAA to complete additional forms that are required priorto providing the requested information to the Airmen Certification Branch.” At time of going to press AOPA was still seeking clarification from the FAA and the CAA on this issue.

Blank stares

IAOPA’s general secretary John Sheehan is working with AOPA-US’s staff who deal with the FAA to seek answers. The only definitive statements have come unsigned out of the Airmen’s Certification department in answer to AOPA’s written questions. These answers say: “The initial step in re-verifying your ‘restricted’ certificate based on your foreign license is to submit a ‘Verification of Authenticity of Foreign License’ to AFS-760 requesting Civil Aviation Authority in your country verify the validity of your foreign pilot license, ratings and medical certificate.

This form is located on our website at, choose Airmen Certification, then under Certificates select ‘Verify the Authenticity of a Foreign License, Rating or Medical Certification’.

After your country has verified the authenticity of your foreign pilot license we will send the information to the Flight Standards District Office you have designated and a copy to you. You will then contact an Inspector at that FSDO and set up an appointment to complete the process.”

Asked whether anyone in Europe was authorised to do this work, the reply was: “The only way is to go through the verification of authenticity process and meet with an FAA Inspector in the US.”

No more paper

For those with cardboard certificates, the 2009 edition of the Federal Aviation Regulations contains a new part of interest. FAR 61.19 – ‘duration of pilot and instructor certificates’ (page 45 of the ASA FAR/AIM) headed 61.19(h), says the holder of a paper pilot certificate issued by the FAA may not exercise the privileges of that certificate after 31 March 2010. That means you must have the credit card or plastic certificate by this date, with Orville and Wilbur Wright on the card, or you cannot fly your N-reg aircraft in the UK or Europe. That, too, can only be obtained by visiting an FSDO in the US.

The FAA is also starting to issue certificates with an expiry date. 61.11(c) (page 42) says a pilot certificate issued on the basis of a foreign pilot licence will expire on the date the foreign pilot licence expires, unless otherwise specified on the 61.75 US certificate. JAA/EASA licenses are valid for five years. If you’re getting new 61.75, check whether your 61.75 has an expiry date. It will be listed on the back in the limitations part, along with ‘English proficient’.

A common misconception is that 61.75 holders require an FAA medical. This is not true as can be seen on page 72 (61.75 (b) (4) ‘medical certificates’. It’s also listed at 61.3 (c)(2)(x) on page 39, which shows that you can use your UK medical.

FAR 61.3 says you are required to have your medical, UK licence and FAA certificate and passport on your person or readily accessible in the aircraft.

With a 61.75 certificate you are required to keep your UK licence current AND you are required to have a flight review – 61.56 (c) page 57: No person may act as pilot in command of an aircraft unless since the beginning of the 24th calendar month before that in which he acts a PIC, that person has

(1) accomplished a flight review given by an authorized instructor.

(2) A log book endorsement from an authorised instructor.

An authorised instructor is one that holds an FAA CFI or CFII, not a UK or JAR instructor.

If you haven’t had a flight review within the last two years you are flying illegally. If you have an accident or you’re ramp-checked your insurance company will not cover you and the FAA will fine you.

It’s worth noting that the US domestic security agency, the TSA, is now saying that N-registered aircraft must be required to inform the agency of any flight, anywhere in the world, in advance. At the moment this is believed to be restricted to aircraft above 12,500 lbs, but there are a lot of itchy trigger fingers at the agency and anything could happen.

Confusion characterises the Federal Aviation Administration's response to questions on amendments to 61.75 certificates, with different offices taking different positions. The Airmen Certification Branch of the Federal Aviation Administration is today (February 5) advising AOPA members that the only way to amend such certificates is by appointment at an FAA District Office. The New York field office, however, says certain DEPs in Europe are authorised to amend 61.75 certificates. As long as some FAA staff maintain there is an procedure whereby the requirements stipulated on the FAA website can be circumvented, there seems to be no reason why that route should not be used by 61.75 holders in Europe. AOPA will therefore support all 61.75 holders who have their 'English Proficiency' amendments made by Europe-based DPEs with the authority of the New York field office, whatever the eventual outcome. AOPA US continues to work with the FAA to establish an acceptable means of compliance that can be widely published.

Aero Friedrichshafen

An unbreakable date for your diary – Aero-Expo at Friedrichshafen from April 2 to 5, 2009. This is far and away Europe’s biggest general aviation show – last year it attracted 553 exhibitors and 45,000 visitors. From next year it will be held annually. Check out the Aero website at


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