Replace Pilot Certificates, Take Knowledge Tests Now

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Pilots who are still carrying old paper FAA airmen certificates need to have them replaced with the new plastic card versions by the end of March. On March 31, the old certificates will expire. The only exceptions are temporary certificates and student certificates, which will remain valid until their expiration date. The fee for most pilots to make the change is $2, but if you also ask to change to a new identification number that is not your Social Security number, the fee is waived. Processing by mail can take four to six weeks, so the deadline is approaching fast. Requests filed online take 7 to 10 days. All the necessary info can be found on the FAA Web site. Also, students taking an FAA knowledge test could be assessed an extra $50 fee starting as soon as March 1, AOPA said recently. AOPA, EAA, and other advocacy groups have asked the testing service and the FAA to re-evaluate the need for the fee and either delay or scrap it. But if you are close to ready to take an exam, it might not hurt to take it ASAP just in case.

AOPA said the starting date for the proposed testing fee is unclear -- they were told it would start April 1, but some testing centers have been told to expect it to start on March 1. The testing services, Computer Assisted Testing Service and LaserGrade, told AOPA the fee would cover the costs of transitioning to a new standards-authorization system required by the FAA that would require them to expand their oversight and training programs at testing sites.