Pilot Certification Process

Pilot Certification Process

Non-US pilots qualifying for the 20th FAI World Hot Air Balloon Championship must take note of licensing (certification) requirements of U.S. Federal Aviation Regulations.

Foreign Registered Aircraft. FAA regulations permit foreign registered aircraft to be operated within the United States by a pilot holding a valid foreign pilot license issued by the foreign country where the aircraft is registered given the presentation and validation of this information by F.A.A.

Pilots flying an aircraft not registered in the same country which issued their pilot license, must apply for a U.S. Airman’s certificate. (section 61.75)

Before applying for a U.S. Airman’s Certificate based on a foreign license, pilots must have their foreign license and medical certificate (if applicable) verified by their country’s Civil Aviation Authority.

Go to: http://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/airmen_certification/foreign_license_verification

Download the form. Enter “Grand Rapids, Michigan” for question 11. The form says to mail it but you can fax it to (405) 954-9922 and save time. Don’t forget to include a legible copy of your foreign pilot license and medical certificate (if applicable) and an English translation of both. Do not apply for verification until after February 1.The process takes 45-90 days and is valid for six months from issue.

Written Notification. When verification is received from a foreign CAA, the applicant will receive written notification that a copy of the verification of authenticity of the foreign pilot license has been forwarded to the designated FSDO in the applicant’s request. The verification of authenticity of the foreign pilot license is valid for 6 calendar months. Applicants may make application for their U.S. pilot certificate at the designated FSDO during that period.

Once you have received verification of your pilot license, contact Grand Rapids FSDO and make an appointment.You must meet with the FAA in person in Grand Rapids to receive your pilot certificate. (Grand Rapids is 95 miles from Battle Creek)
3196 Kraft Avenue SE
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49512
Phone: (616) 954-6657
Fax: (616) 940-3140
Email:   7-AGL-GRR-FSDO@faa.gov

Be sure to fill out Form 8710-1 and take it with you to Grand Rapids along with all required documentation.

FAA Form 8710-1.

Applicants with a medical certificate can apply using the IACRA website. https://iacra.faa.gov/iacra/

The following guidance is provided:

§ 61.3 Requirement for certificates, ratings, and authorizations.

(a) Pilot certificate. No person may serve as a required pilot flight crewmember of a civil aircraft of the United States, unless that person:

(1) Has a pilot certificate or special purpose pilot authorization issued under this part in that person’s physical possession or readily accessible in the aircraft when exercising the privileges of that pilot certificate or authorization. However, when the aircraft is operated within a foreign country, a pilot license issued by that country may be used; and
(2) Has a photo identification that is in that person’s physical possession or readily accessible in the aircraft when exercising the privileges of that pilot certificate or authorization. The photo identification must be a:
(i) Driver’s license issued by a State, the District of Columbia, or territory or possession of the United States;
(ii) Government identification card issued by the Federal government, a State, the District of Columbia, or a territory or possession of the United States;
(iii) U.S. Armed Forces’ identification card;
(iv) Official passport;
(v) Credential that authorizes unescorted access to a security identification display area at an airport regulated under 49 CFR part 1542; or
(vi) Other form of identification that the Administrator finds acceptable.

(b) Required pilot certificate for operating a foreign-registered aircraft. No person may serve as a required pilot flight crewmember of a civil aircraft of foreign registry within the United States, unless that person’s pilot certificate:

(1) Is in that person’s physical possession, or readily accessible in the aircraft when exercising the privileges of that pilot certificate; and
(2) Has been issued under this part, or has been issued or validated by the country in which the aircraft is registered.

(c) Medical certificate (not applicable).

(d) Flight instructor certificate (not applicable).

Foreign pilots intending to fly a US registered balloon must obtain a US pilot certificate. The following sections apply and must be followed:

§ 61.75 Private pilot certificate issued on the basis of a foreign pilot license.

(a) General. A person who holds a foreign pilot license at the private pilot level or higher that was issued by a contracting State to the Convention on International Civil Aviation may apply for and be issued a U.S. private pilot certificate with the appropriate ratings if the foreign pilot license meets the requirements of this section.

(b) Certificate issued. A U.S. private pilot certificate issued under this section must specify the person’s foreign license number and country of issuance. A person who holds a foreign pilot license issued by a contracting State to the Convention on International Civil Aviation may be issued a U.S. private pilot certificate based on the foreign pilot license without any further showing of proficiency, provided the applicant:

(1) Meets the requirements of this section;
(2) Holds a foreign pilot license, at the private pilot license level or higher, that does not contain a limitation stating that the applicant has not met all of the standards of ICAO for that license;
(3) Does not hold a U.S. pilot certificate other than a U.S. student pilot certificate;
(4) Holds a medical certificate issued under part 67 of this chapter or a medical license issued by the country that issued the person’s foreign pilot license; and
(5) Is able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language. If the applicant is unable to meet one of these requirements due to medical reasons, then the Administrator may place such operating limitations on that applicant’s pilot certificate as are necessary for the safe operation of the aircraft.

(c) Aircraft ratings issued. Aircraft ratings listed on a person’s foreign pilot license, in addition to any issued after testing under the provisions of this part, may be placed on that person’s U.S. pilot certificate for private pilot privileges only.

(d) Instrument ratings issued (not applicable).

(e) Operating privileges and limitations. A person who receives a U.S. private pilot certificate that has been issued under the provisions of this section:

(1) May act as pilot in command of a civil aircraft of the United States in accordance with the pilot privileges authorized by this part and the limitations placed on that U.S. pilot certificate;
(2) Is limited to the privileges placed on the certificate by the Administrator;
(3) Is subject to the limitations and restrictions on the person’s U.S. certificate and foreign pilot license when exercising the privileges of that U.S. pilot certificate in an aircraft of U.S. registry operating within or outside the United States; and

(f) Limitation on licenses used as the basis for a U.S. certificate. A person may use only one foreign pilot license as a basis for the issuance of a U.S. pilot certificate. The foreign pilot license and medical certification used as a basis for issuing a U.S. pilot certificate under this section must be written in English or accompanied by an English transcription that has been signed by an official or representative of the foreign aviation authority that issued the foreign pilot license.

(g) Limitation placed on a U.S. pilot certificate. A U.S. pilot certificate issued under this section can only be exercised when the pilot has the foreign pilot license, upon which the issuance of the U.S. pilot certificate was based, in the holder’s possession or readily accessible in the aircraft.

FAA Form 8710-1, Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application

Applicants with a medical certificate can use IACRA to file form 8710-1 on line.  Applicants who’s license does not require a medical certificate cannot use IACRA and must fill out form 8710-1 and take it to the FSDO appointment.

Pilots may download a pdf version of FAA From 8710-1 using this link: FAA Form 8710-1.

Flight Standards Information Systems (FSIMS)

Pilots seeking more extensive guidance on compliance with Title 14 CFR Part 61 may use the link below. This link will take you to Volume 5, Airman Certification of the Flight Standards Information System.


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