FAA throws a spanner in
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
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.
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.
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.
the FAA’s website (see http://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/airmen_certification/English_proficiency/)
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’.
the URL http://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/airmen_certification/foreign_license_verification/you
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.
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.
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.
form is located on our website at http://registry.faa.gov,
Certification, then under Certificates select ‘Verify the
Authenticity of a Foreign License, Rating or Medical
“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
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
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
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.
IMPORTANT UPDATE TO THE ARTICLE AFTER THE INITIAL
DISTRIBUTION OF THE NEWSLETTER:
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.