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Under a new final rule adopted by the FAA, aviation medical examiners will no longer issue student pilot certificates. Instead, new pilots will go through a similar process as private pilots, receiving their hard plastic student pilot certificates in the mail.
As expected, the FAA dropped an earlier proposal to require photos on pilot certificates. Student pilots can apply for certificates through their CFI, as well as a designated pilot examiner, FAA examiner, or Part 141 flight school certificate representative.
The changes were made to give the Transportation Security Administration time to review student pilot applications as part of an anti-terrorism screening program mandated by Congress. Unlike student pilot certificates under the old rules, the new certificates will never expire.