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Wednesday, 31 August, 2011

FAA Issues Final Rule Affecting Flight Training

August 31, 2011

What’s at Issue
Today the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a final rule titled Pilot in CommandProficiency Check and Other Changes to the Pilot and Pilot School Certification Rules.

Why It’s Important
This final rule makes significant changes to the regulations affecting flight training, and completes the rulemaking begun with the issuance of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in August 2009.

Major Provisions
This final rule makes the following changes to Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 61 and Part 141:

Recurrent Proficiency Check for a Pilot-in-Command of a Single-Piloted Turbojet-Powered Aircraft - § 61.58(a)(1) & (2) and (d)(1)–(4) — This rule extends the requirement for recurrent proficiency checks to pilots operating single-piloted turbojet-powered aircraft.  In response to comments from the industry, the FAA made changes from the proposed rule that are meant to accommodate the unique needs of operators of experimental jets.

Application for and Issuance of an Instrument Rating Concurrently With a Private Pilot Certificate - § 61.65(a)(1), Part 141, Appx. M — This rule allows the application for and issuance of an instrument rating concurrently with a Private Pilot Certificate.  This new rule allows flight training providers operating under Part 61 or Part 141 to utilize a combined Private Pilot/Instrument rating course.  In response to industry comments, the FAA modified the proposed rule by allowing 45 of the 50 hours of cross-country flight experience needed as a prerequisite for an instrument rating to be completed with an instructor in the aircraft.  The reasoning for this change is that if a student is pursuing a combined private pilot/instrument rating, all cross-country flight would necessarily be completed under a student pilot certificate requiring each flight to be endorsed by a certified flight instructor.  The FAA and industry commenters felt that this would result in a reduction in safety.

Conversion of a Foreign Pilot License to a U.S. Pilot Certificate - § 61.71(c) — This rule allows the conversion of a foreign pilot license to a U.S. certificate under the provisions of a Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) and Implementing Procedures for Licensing (IPL).

Revision to the definition of ‘‘complex airplane’’ - § 61.1(b)(3) — This rule revises the definition of a “complex airplane” to include those aircraft equipped with Full Authority Digital Engine Controls (FADEC).

Expanded Use of Airplane With a Single Functioning Throwover Control Wheel for Certain Kinds of Flight Training- § 91.109(a) and (b)(3) — This change permits the use of a functioning throwover control wheel for certain flight training that includes the flight review required by § 61.56, and the recent flight experience and instrument proficiency check required by § 61.57.

Exception to Requirement for Ground Training Facility When Training Is an Online Computer-Based Training Program - § 141.45 and § 141.55(c)(1) — This rule change excepts Part 141 pilot schools and provisional pilot schools from the requirement to describe each room used for ground training when the training course is an online computer-based training program.

The NPRM that preceded this final rule had also proposed a rule change that would have exchanged the requirement for 10 hours of training in a “complex airplane” for 10 hours of advanced instrument training for the issuance of a commercial pilot certificate.  The FAA decided not to implement this proposal in this final rule but indicated that further consideration of commercial pilot training rules is likely in the future.

NATA Position
NATA is pleased with the majority of this rulemaking.  However, the association is disappointed that the FAA has decided not to adopt the changes that had been proposed to commercial pilot training.  As stated in NATA’s comments to the NPRM that preceded this final rule: “Today’s fleet of single-engine complex aircraft that are suitable for flight training are quickly approaching 30 years in service. After decades in use as flight training aircraft, many of these complex aircraft are quickly becoming unsuitable for flight training, either through increased maintenance costs or safety issues. Since aircraft manufacturers have moved away from producing single-engine complex aircraft that would be suitable for flight training, flight schools and student pilots are left little option.” NATA will continue to work with the FAA to address this issue.

This final rule is effective on October 31, 2011.  A full version of the final rule is available here.

Staff Contact:  Michael France
Director, Regulatory Affairs
Click here to view in PDF format.

For general press inquiries, contact Shannon Chambers at 703-298-1347 or

The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) has been the voice of aviation business for over 75 years. Representing nearly 2,300 aviation businesses, NATA’s member companies provide a broad range of services to general aviation, the airlines and the military and NATA serves as the public policy group representing the interests of aviation businesses before Congress and the federal agencies.