FAA Updates Flight-School Rules

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The FAA on Wednesday published a final rule with updates to regulations that affect pilot, flight instructor, and flight-school certification. The rule allows pilot applicants to apply concurrently for a private pilot certificate and an instrument rating, and permits flight schools to apply for a combined private pilot certification and instrument rating course. The rule also allows pilot schools to offer internet-based training programs even if they don't have a physical ground-training facility and revises the definition of "complex airplane" to include airplanes with full authority digital engine control (FADEC). The proposed rule would have replaced the 10 hours of complex airplane time required for commercial pilot applicants with 10 hours of advanced instrument training, but that provision has not been adopted in the final rule.

The FAA published the proposed changes in 2009, and received more than 400 comments. The most significant change from the original proposal relates to the proficiency checks for pilots of experimental turbojet-powered aircraft, taking into account whether or not those pilots fly with passengers. Other aspects of the rule revise the procedures for converting a foreign pilot license to a U.S. pilot certificate. The FAA said it has determined all of these changes are needed to enhance safety, respond to changes in the aviation industry, and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens.