OUT WITH THE OLD  AND IN WITH THE NEW FAR Part 143 is gone, but FAA revises FAR parts 61 and 141 for the 21st Century

by John Lynch

After what seemed like an eternity of write and rewrite, a major revision to FAR Part 61, "Certification: Pilots and Flight Instructors, "-"new" FAR Part 61, "Pilot, Flight Instructor, and Pilot School Certification Rules" was issued on April 4, 1997. This final rule, effective on August 4, 1997, amends the FAR governing pilot and flight instructor initial and recurrent training and the operations of FAA certificated pilot schools. The new rules address concerns that were identified during public hearings and comments received from the public in response to a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The final rule also updates standards of pilot and flight instructor performance and responds to technological advances in pilot training since the initial adoption of FAR Parts 61, 141 (Pilot Schools), and 143 (Ground Instructors).

During this rewrite of FAR Parts 61, 141, and 143, the FAA has made a major effort to clarify existing rules, has made numerous editorial and reformatting changes to the existing rules, and, where needed, has deleted rules that the FAA considers obsolete, burdensome, or unnecessary. This rewrite has maintained those pilot, instructor, and school certification rules that the FAA considers safety-essential. The full text of the revisions is so enormous, and the specifics could take up a whole issue of FAA Aviation News, so I love elected to summarize here the 30 or so major revisions and/or withdrawn proposals. Information on how to obtain a copy of the full rule is found in the sidebar at the end of this article.


The revised rule clarifies such terms as pilot in command time, cross country time, flight training, ground training, training time, authorized instructor, examiner, pilot time, practical test, etc., that have been the source of various interpretationsÑmany incorrect. The issuance of an additional category, class, instrument, or instructor rating onto an existing U.S. pilot or instructor certificate for foreign pilots outside the U.S. is now permitted so that U.S. schools can increase their business opportunities internationally. Revised FAR Part 61 now restricts holders of foreign pilot certificates to apply for and only be issued a U.S. private pilot certificate with the appropriate ratings when the application is based on the foreign pilot certificate.

The revised rule replaces the special purpose flight certificate for foreign pilots of U.S.-registered aircraft with a special purpose flight authorization that will be issued by a FSDO. This will lower administrative costs for the FAA and simplify the procedures for foreign pilots seeking special purpose flight authorizations. The FAR will specify general areas of operation to be covered in training and on practical tests for all pilot and instructor certification so that they parallel the Practical Test Standards (PTS).

Solo flight time (hours) required for the private and recreational pilot certificates have been modified so that the student and the flight instructor can tailor the training time toward the studentÕs needs and capabilities. Current references to "written tests" have been changed to "knowledge tests" in order to include computer testing and be consistent. A logbook endorsement from an instructor is now required for eligibility to take knowledge tests. This will eliminate the need for a FSDO to review an applicantÕs home study program and place more responsibility on the CFI. Knowledge of windshear avoidance procedures is now required for all certificate levels and an instrument rating.

Aeronautical decision making and judgement training have been incorporated into training requirements for all certificate levels and ratings. A dual training requirement has been established by aircraft class for night cross-country at the private and commercial pilot certificate levels for powered aircraft. Private pilots may now perform search and location operations for law enforcement agencies and organizations such as the Civil Air Patrol and be reimbursed for certain expenses without conflicting with limitations of the private pilotÕs privileges forbidding private pilots from receiving compensation or hire. For years this privilege has been accommodated through the exemption process and now petitioners will no longer be required to submit and the FAA will no longer be required to process exemptions on this issue.

Private pilots may log PIC time for towing gliders. The existing rule has been an unnecessary burden on the pilot in that the time accumulated was considered "compensation."  A commercial pilot applicant must now hold a private pilot certificate before applying for a commercial pilot certificate. This is a minor revision, but it will align the rules of FAR Part 61 with a "step-by-step building block" approach toward pilot and instructor certification. This will save applicants from having to receive some training and testing that is received and performed at the private pilot certificate level and then again repeating it at the commercial pilot certificate level.

Turbojet flight training is permitted in lieu of the current requirement of flight training in an airplane with retractable landing gear, flaps, and a controllable pitch propeller. The existing rules prevent the use of a turbojet airplane to substitute for a complex airplane, and in this rewrite there has been a concentrated effort to delete obsolete rules. At both the private and commercial pilot certification, two new dual cross-country training flight requirements have been added. One is for a day-VFR and one is for a night-VFR cross-country flight. Both must be in the class of aircraft for which the rating is sought. These provisions are added in response to industry recommendations on what skills a pilot should have to operate safely in todayÕs National Airspace System.

The NPRM proposed creating new flight instructor ratings for airships, balloons, powered-lift, glider-powered and non-powered, instrument-airship, and instrument powered-lift. In response to the commenters, the final rule is only going forward with the proposal for establishing a CFI and CFII for the new category of aircraft named powered-lift. The FAA has withdrawn the proposals for the flight instructor for airship, balloon, glider-powered and non-powered, and instrument-airship.

The NPRM had proposed to require instructors providing training for any FAR Part 61 airman certificate to use a written syllabus. In response to the commenters, the FAA has withdrawn this proposal. The revised rule adds another method for qualifying flight instructors who give training to initial CFI applicants in FAA-approved courses. The existing rule required CFIÕs, who teach CFI applicants, to hold their certificates for 24 months and to have given at least 200 hours of instruction. Under the new rule, if an instructor is instructing in a FAR Part 141 school and has given at least 400 hours (for powered aircraft and lower hour requirements for airships, gliders, and balloons), that instructor will not have to wait for the entire 24 months.

The revised rule codifies FAA policy concerning the renewal criteria for flight instructors. In addition, it adds a provision for allowing a "90-day window" for flight instructors to renew their certificates and to be considered to have renewed in the month due. The NPRM had proposed to modify the section addressing conversion to current flight instructor certificates to include new non-powered glider, powered glider, powered-lift, airship, and balloon flight instructor certificates. In response to the commenters, the final rule is only going forward with the proposal for establishing a CFI and CFII for the new category of aircraft named the powered-lift. We have withdrawn the proposals for the flight instructor for airship, balloon, glider-powered and glider-nonpowered, and instrument-airship.

FAR Part 143, "Ground Instructors," has been removed. Ground instructor certification has been incorporated into FAR Part 61 in the new Subpart I, "Ground Instructors." Although the NPRM had proposed to revise and to establish new ratings for the ground instructor certificate, the proposal has been withdrawn and the existing ratings (i.e., basic, advanced, and instrument) will remain.

The NPRM had proposed that a holder of a flight instructor certificate would not be eligible for a ground instructor certificate in the same category aircraft. Although this proposal would have saved the FAA some administrative costs and also saved flight instructors from obtaining a ground instructor certificate for which they receive no additional privileges for having, the proposal has been withdrawn.

The NPRM had proposed to require ground instructors to submit to a practical test. In response to the commenters and after further review, the FAA has withdrawn this proposal. The entire FAR Part 141, "Pilot Schools," has been restructured and reformatted. Although at first glance, it appears the changes are major in scope, this is not the case. Most of the provisions that now exist in FAR Part 141 remain. The revisions will make FAR Part 141 more user friendly and parallel the pilot and instructor certification structure and format of FAR Part 61.

A major change in FAR Part 141 will permit FAR Part 141 schools to receive approval for courses with planned ground and flight training time requirements, in lieu of the minimum time requirements. This change will save the FAA administrative costs and save the industry the costs of obtaining this privilege through the exemption process as has been permitted since the early 1980Õs. Eight schools that had this "training to a standard" privilege were required every two years to petition for it.

A new position call "check instructors" have been established in FAR Part 141 to conduct stage and end-of-course tests and instructor proficiency checks. This change will relieve some large schools, chief flight instructors from the responsibility of performing all stage and end-of-course tests and instructor proficiency checks and delegate that responsibility to check instructors.

The examining authority requirements have been revised to a 90% passing rate for the 24 month period instead of the last nine out of 10 applicants. This provision was requested by the FAR Part 141 school industry as a more realistic approach for ensuring quality of training and ensuring against a conflict of interest. Examining authority for ATP and instructor certification courses is now allowed. This provision was requested by the FAR Part 141 school industry as a means to ensure against a conflict of interest.

The final rule not only restructures and reformats FAR Part 141 but also completely revises the entire FAR Part 141 school ratings. New ratings have been added that will permit FAR Part 141 schools to provide training that was not permitted under the old rule, improving business opportunities for FAR Part 141 schools.

Ground trainers are re-defined in FAR Part 141 with the current, standardized definition of "flight training devices," as outlined in Advisory Circular 120-45, "Airplane Flight Training Device Qualification." In addition, the rule change provides for use of those flight training devices under the same provisions as for ground trainers under FAR Part 141.

Powered-lift is now added as a new aircraft category for private pilot through ATP certificates and the flight instructor certificate. This new aircraft category is for aircraft that are like the V-22 (Boeing-Bell tilt rotor) or the V-8 (Harrier jump jet). Although there are no civilian certificated powered-lifts to date, it is expected that one of these aircraft will receive FAA certification soon and this proposal for pilot certification in powered-lifts will be in place when that aircraft certification

The NPRM proposed to add powered and non-powered glider class ratings for private pilot through commercial pilot certificate level, including the flight instructor certificate. In response to the commenters and after further review, the FAA has withdrawn this proposal.

The NPRM proposed to establish separate instrument ratings for single engine and multiengine airplanes. In response to the commenters and after further review, the FAA has withdrawn this proposal and the existing procedures for certification are retained. The NPRM had proposed to require additional training and a logbook endorsement for PIC to operate airplanes having 200 or more horsepower and those PIC operating complex airplanes. In response to the commenters and after further review, the FAA has withdrawn the proposal for the additional training and endorsement for operating an airplane of 200 horsepower or more and retained the existing additional training and endorsement requirements that only requires those airplanes of "more" than 200 horsepower. However the proposal to require separate additional training and endorsements for PIC operating
complex airplanes and high performance airplanes is going forward.

The revised rule provides for additional training and an instructor endorsement requirement for aircraft that require training by that aircraftÕs type certificate. This is in response for dealing with aircraft like the Malibu and other complex aircraft. This will allow the FAA to respond more quickly to safety problems on existing aircraft.

Specific information on and a definition of what constitutes the logging of pilot-in-command time has been included in the revision. This revision will eliminate the FAA from having to respond to requests for legal interpretations and conforms with the current policy. [Hopefully, however, it wonÕt cut down on the "logging time" letters received for the magazineÕs FlightFORUM.ÑEditor]

The NPRM had proposed clarification for when two persons may log PIC time. The proposal has been withdrawn, and existing provisions still apply.

Instrument currency requirements have been revised as a result of a petition for rulemaking from a general aviation pilot who requested the currency be task-oriented instead of the old "6-6-6" ruleÑsix hours and six approaches in six months. There were no requirements on what training had to be accomplished.

The eligibility for an instrument rating has been changed to parallel ICAO requirements. Now, only a private pilot certificate is required, and the 125 total hours of aeronautical experience is eliminated. Fifty hours of PIC cross-country aeronautical experience is still required. Accident analyses have shown that an instrument rating goes a long way in ensuring pilots against the most common type of general aviation accidentÑinadvertent flight into bad weather. Now, pilots can obtain an instrument rating fairly shortly after becoming private pilots without having to accumulate 125 hours.

The required aeronautical experience requirements for applicants for additional category and class ratings have been clarified. The required subject matter for SIC ground training on the type of aircraft for which SIC privileges are requested have been defined. The required maneuvers and procedures for SIC qualification and recurrent qualification have been specified. The exceptions for persons who are unable to read, speak, write, and understand English have been deleted, and the rule now provides an exception only for persons who are hearing impaired. As a result of the existing tasks within the PTS, cockpit resource management will be required training and will be tested for all certificate levels. Those applicants applying for pilot and instructor certificates, including the commercial, ATP, and flight instructor certificates, need only hold a third class medical certificate.

An applicant for an ATP certificate must hold a commercial pilot certificate with an instrument rating. This is a minor revision as in most cases applicants already hold a commercial pilot certificate with an instrument rating. However, the rule retains certain exceptions (i.e., military pilots and foreign pilots). The list of items of required aeronautical knowledge for ATP applicants has been updated. Appendix A of FAR Part 61 has been deleted, and the ATP practical test will be based on the format of the Practical Test Standards. Minimum experience requirements for the powered-lift ATP certificate are tailored after the airplane ATP certificate.

The medical eligibility requirements have been removed from the various pilot certificate levels and placed in FAR ¤ 61.23. This, in effect, bases the requirement for the class of medical certification on the operation being performed. This change conforms to the agencyÕs long-standing policies and interpretations of medical certification. For example, persons applying for any pilot certificate or rating will be required to hold only a third class medical certificate with the following exceptions:

For flight operations requiring an airline transport pilot certificate, pilots must hold at least a first class medical certificate. For flight operations requiring a commercial pilot certificate, pilots must hold at least a second class medical certificate. Pilots must hold at least a third class medical certificate forÑ Flight operations requiring a student, recreational, or private pilot certificate; or To be eligible for a student pilot certificate, any pilot certificate or flight instructor certificate, and any ratings issued under this Part.

A pilot does not need to hold a medical certificate when exercising the privileges of a pilot certificate or flight instructor certificate with a glider
category rating or balloon class rating; or when exercising the privileges of a flight instructor certificate where the instructor is not the
pilot in command or serving as a required crewmember.

(Note: The proposal for removing the requirement for a medical when exercising the privileges of a
recreational pilot certificate was withdrawn.)

The FAR Part 141 school pass rate requirements have been changed to 80% for the 24 month period instead of eight passing out of 10 recent graduates. This provision was requested by the FAR Part 141 school industry as a more realistic approach for ensuring quality of training.

The aeronautical experience requirements for recreational pilot through commercial pilot certification have been revised. Recreational pilots may operate aircraft in cross-country flight more than 50 nm from their base of training provided those recreational pilots receive the cross-country training given
to a private pilot.

There is a revision that prohibits a person from serving as a PIC or in any other capacity as a required pilot flight crewmember while that person is taking any medication for a medical condition that results in the person being unable to meet the requirements for the medical certificate held. The revision prohibits a person from serving as a PIC or in any other capacity as a required pilot flight crewmember while that person is taking any medication that may inhibit the ability to operate an
aircraft in a safe manner.

The night flying aeronautical experience exception has been eliminated at the private and commercial certificate level, except for those persons who receive their training in Alaska. In those cases a person will be given one year to obtain the required night flying aeronautical experience. This means that all private and commercial pilot applicants will be required to receive the night flying training that is specified in FAR Part 61.

Provisions have been added in FAR ¤¤ 61.3 and 61.77 that restrict international air service operations of civil airplanes of U.S. registry for those pilots (both for the PIC and the SIC) that have reached their 60th birthday. These operational restrictions parallel the restrictions contained in the "commuter" final rule.

Although the proposal for establishing class ratings within the glider category has been withdrawn, the FAA has revised the procedures for pilot certification for the launch/tow procedures for gliders. The new revision will permit issuance of pilot certificates with the glider ratings without the existing requirements for placing launch/tow limitations on the pilot certificate. This new procedure will require glider pilots to receive additional training and a logbook endorsement from a flight instructor
on the specific kind of launch/tow procedure.

Mr. Lynch is an aviation safety inspector in the FAAs Certification Branch, General Aviation and Commercial Division, FAA Headquarters. If you have questions, please contact him at (202) 267-3844. Other members of the FAR Part 61 project team that you may contact for further information include Cindy Herman, Office of Rulemaking, (202) 267-7627, and Krista
McLelland, Office of the Chief Counsel, (202) 267-8054.
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