Changes to the application process implemented in April meant that pilots-in-training couldn’t apply for a student pilot certificate until the first day of eligibility—their fourteenth birthday for gliders and balloons or their sixteenth birthday for all other aircraft. Because of Transportation Security Administration security vetting requirements, applicants could not get the certificate the same day they applied, making it impossible for them to solo on their birthday.
“Soloing on their birthday is a huge milestone for many young pilots, the same way getting a driver’s license on their birthday is for many American teenagers,” said Justin Barkowski, AOPA director of regulatory affairs. “We asked the FAA to restore this rite of passage and we appreciate the agency’s willingness to accept many of our recommendations.”
The FAA announced July 26 that, beginning immediately, a student pilot can submit a paper application up to 90 days before his or her eligible birthday, allowing time for the application to be processed and the student to be vetted by the TSA before his or her birthday. Once approved, the FAA will provide the student with a temporary authorization to exercise the privileges of a student pilot certificate through the Airmen Online Services section of its website. The temporary authorization will be available on the student’s birthday and remain valid for 60 days. The FAA will mail a permanent certificate to the student pilot within that 60-day window. (Source: AOPA/FAA)