FAA proposes photos on pilot certificates

The FAA wants your opinion on whether photos should be on pilot certificates. The FAA announced the proposal Thursday, Nov. 18, and set a deadline of Feb. 17, 2011, for submitting comments.

Under the current proposal, a new pilot certificate would cost $22 and be valid for eight years. At the end of that time pilots would have to obtain a new certificate and update the photo. If finalized as proposed, existing pilots with commercial certificates would have four years to comply, pilots with airline transport ratings would have three years to obtain a new certificate, and existing private, recreational or sport pilot certificate holders would have five years to comply.

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said the current certificates “are plastic and tamper-resistant, but this proposal will make them even more secure.”

This is not the first time photo IDs would be required in aviation. Long before there was an FAA and aviation matters came under the Department of Commerce, Airman Identification Cards were issued by the Civil Aeronautics Administration. These cards had not only the individual’s photo but a fingerprint as well.


  1. Steve Berg says

    I have held a pilots certificate for over 50 years. I don’t think my photo in my early 20’s resembles me at all these days. If we have photo ID we will have to renew, like a drivers lisc, every so often.
    No to photo requirement.

  2. Steve Schell says

    This is about as useful as punching in the tower frequency to get through the 5 foot high fence. When is the government going to stop inconveniencing us for no good reason at tremendous cost?

  3. Tom Spann says

    This make no sense what so ever as a security measure. Who will benefit??? An expense on both the FAA and on the dwindeling number pilots who are getting grounded because of increasing cost to comply with ever increasing government requirements.

  4. David Law says

    Why a photo? Does any person possessing a pilot certificate not already have a “government-issued” photo ID? Seems like re-inventing the wheel to me. Wasteful and duplicitous use of government resources, as well as mine.

  5. Earl says

    What exactly would a picture on my pilot license solve? Just more cost! Why do I need a license, period. The only time a license is ever perused, is after a incident or accident. My point, if I were to use my aircraft in any illegal endeavor ie; smuggle drugs, smash into a building in Austin or? I DO NOT NEED ANY KIND OF LICENSE TO MAKE THOSE FLIGHTS!!! The license prevents NOTHING! I believe the FAA’s goal is to make things more & more complicated & costly, so as to decrease the number of general aviation pilots & flights.

  6. Roger Reeve says

    Sounds like stupid overkill. We already have picture ID issued every
    4 years on drivers license. You can change a lot in 8 years. If you look
    at my passport it looks like someone else. Whoever dreamed this up has too much time on their hands.

  7. W Doyce Graham Jr says

    My passport photograph is on file in govt. computer. Please move ahead with photo on my certificate. Given electronic sharing of photo files the actual photo should not be a problem. Now the rendering of our faces is something else but alas my photos are never very flattering anyway smiling.

  8. Joel Godston says

    Good idea. Go for it.
    Joel Godston, a pilot for more than 50 years…trained by the AirForce…flew B-47’s F-86H’s in the mass Air National Guard..now retired from Pratt& Whitney after about 40 years…now flying a Cessna 182 in retirement…and loving it!!

  9. Rudy H. says

    Concur with the photos; under our circumstances as of 2001. I negotiate $10.00 for a valid period of 5 years. Have the ‘ole FSDO’s be the issuing agency.

  10. Andy Hill says

    Another government bill, just as well tack on a airspace tax too! Let me see what I have done to rid the skies of the bad people. Upgrade ELT, ABS, Mode C equipment, locks and chains and now a new plastic card! My old 1911 45 still works and has done a pretty good job over the years.

  11. Jim Shaw says

    The current certificates “are plastic and tamper-resistant, but this proposal will make them even more secure.” More secure from what??? How many times have you ever had to show your pilots license to anyone? I have never in 30 years of flying. This is just another unnecessary burden on the little people. There is no amount of “comments” that will change their minds, because someone has a false sence of security that adding my mug on to a piece of plastic will somehow make the world a safer place. Dumb Idea!

  12. says

    no to photos. People seldom look like their pictures for very long. It is just another nail in the increased cost of flying’s coffin. There are many problems where the money could be better spent. Regards Ray Simpkins

  13. dave myrick says

    I disagree with the new proposed requirements for photo ID pilot certificates. Regulations already require also carrying a valid photo ID; examples are Drivers License, passport, etc. The drivers license renewals preform the updated age related photo updates. Our flying club aircraft are based at a commercial airport and we already have to have a background check from TSA and Carry a TSA issued photo ID, displayed at all times, for access “inside the fence”…. isn’t this already enough? I see this as nothing more than mandating an expiration for out existing certificates and an unnecessary bureaucratic revenue enhancement.

  14. Josh Davis says

    I’m all for it.

    Without a photo, a pilot certificate doesn’t show or prove anything. There are hundreds of “Josh Davis” people just in TX. I’d hate to have my cert lifted and be involved in an incident or accident which wasn’t actually me.

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