Did the news that paper pilot certificates are about to become obsolete catch you by surprise? Our recent story (Time running out to get new plastic certificates) generated several telephone calls from readers who were just learning about the change.
But the change shouldn’t have come as a surprise, says Ian Gregor, communications manager for the FAA’s Western-Pacific Region, noting the agency first published a paper to plastic Notice of Proposed Rule Making Jan. 5, 2007, while the final rule was published about a year ago, on Feb. 28, 2008.
Gregor noted that the FAA website explains the paper to plastic rule and several aviation publications and websites, including General Aviation News, have published stories about the change.
“Additionally, the FAA mails pilots FAA Safety and other publications, which have contained numerous articles and notices about the change, he said. “If there are pilots who are not aware of this deadline, it is most likely those who are not current and or who may not have provided FAA with their current mailing addresses so they can receive relevant FAA publications.
“Pilots had two years to replace their certificates and it costs only $2 to do so,” he continued. “Short of personally telephoning each of the 650,000 active pilots in this country, I frankly don’t know what more we could have done to let people know about the change.”
According to Gregor, as of January, 82% of pilots have replaced their paper certificates with plastic certificates.
The paper to plastic conversion is in response to the Drug Enforcement Assistance Act of 1988, which directed the FAA to modify the system used to issue airmen certificates to help prevent abuses, including the use of counterfeit and stolen airman certificates, as well as the submission of unidentifiable names on aircraft registration applications, Gregor said, noting the plastic certificates are more counterfeit resistant than paper certificates.
There are two ways to replace an airmen certificate. You can request a replacement certificate online, which requires that you register with Online Services. Or you can mail an Application for Replacement of Lost, Destroyed, or Paper Airman Certificate form or a signed, written request stating your:
- Date and place of birth
- Social security number and/or certificate number
- The reason you need a replacement
You must include a check or money order for $2, made payable to FAA, for each certificate you request. The latter has made some pilots grumble, as they have held the paper certificates for decades and now have to spend money to replace them.
For more information: FAA.gov. The Airmen Certification Branch can be reached at 866-878-2498.