FAA Told: Photo IDs Don't Fly

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The FAA's proposal to require photos on pilot certificates has drawn almost 500 comments, many of them objecting to the plan, and several advocacy groups have asked the FAA to modify or withdraw the proposal. "As an ATP pilot, I already have an encrypted military ID [and] a state-issued drivers license," said one commenter. "The government does not need an ID to keep the terrorists and radicals in control. This is absolutely a waste of time and money." GA groups who weighed in before the close of comments last week included AOPA, EAA, the National Association of Flight Instructors and the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators. None of them supported the FAA's proposal, which could charge applicants up to $50 for a certificate and would cost pilots about $446 million over 20 years.

AOPA said the FAA should withdraw the proposal, which does nothing to enhance safety or security. EAA said the requirements would delay the issuance of student pilot certificates by six to eight weeks, which is "unacceptable." Further, EAA said, the new IDs still might not meet standards set by the Department of Homeland Security, so pilots would have to accrue the added time and expense of replacing their IDs yet again. NAFI said the FAA's proposal was "ambiguous as to whether the proposed changes would apply to flight instructor certificates." SAFE listed a number of specific objections (PDF) and concluded that the FAA should withdraw its proposal and start over. "Take the time to think this out ... Engage the input and assistance of the aviation community. Then do it right," SAFE said.