More Plastic For Your Wallet

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In the next two years, the FAA wants all pilots to trade in their paper certificates for the (allegedly) more terrorist-proof plastic model unveiled in 2003. Initially, the agency was going to let the paper editions be replaced by the natural attrition of wear and tear and when pilots got new ratings or certificates. But AOPA says the agency is now working on a rule requiring replacement of the paper pilot certificates within two years (five years for other types of airman certificates). But even that may be an interim measure. The agency is still working on getting photos on the certificates but it's hung up on the mechanism for actually getting the pictures taken. (We understand cameras work well for that ...) Among the procedural suggestions is that medical examiners be issued digital cameras to snap photos (... of your face) as part of the examination routine. In the meantime, pilots have to carry their driver's license with them. Getting a plastic certificate is as easy as ordering one online for $2. You can save yourself the two bucks if you tell the FAA you want your social security number removed from your certificate for privacy or security reasons. And no, we didn't ask.