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What’s Up in FAA News?

We all know how important it is to stay aware of industry news and regulatory announcements. To make your busy life a little easier, here’s some of the latest information you should know from the March/April issue of the FAA Safety Briefing magazine.

New Student Pilots Must Carry a Plastic Pilot Certificate

The FAA issued a rule in early January that requires student pilots to apply for, obtain, and carry a plastic pilot certificate to exercise the privileges of the pilot certificate. Additionally, the new rule modifies the process by which student pilots apply for a certificate — they must now apply in person at a Flight Standards District Office, through a Designated Pilot Examiner, with an airman certification representative associated with a part 141 pilot school, or with a CFI.

Student pilots who currently have a paper student pilot certificate may continue to use it, or can request a plastic replacement for $2.00. The plastic certificates will not expire, which will give the student unlimited time to complete training without having to apply for another student pilot certificate.

Drones and other UAS Must Now Be Registered

A federal law effective December 21, 2015, requires unmanned aircraft registration for small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and less than 55 pounds (approx. 25 kilograms) including payloads such as on-board cameras.

Once you complete the registration process, you will be provided with a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership along with a unique identification number which must be marked on the aircraft. Owners using the model aircraft for hobby or recreation will only have to register once and may use the same identification number for all of their model UAS. The registration is valid for three years and costs $5.

Safety Alert for Noise Cancelling Headsets

A Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB) has been issued to advise GA pilots and operators about the use of noise cancelling headsets. When wearing these headsets, pilots may be unaware of environmental sounds and audible warnings in the cockpit that do not come through the intercom system.

The FAA recommends that if any audible alarms or environmental sounds cannot be discerned, operators should discontinue the use of noise-canceling headsets. The agency also recommends pilots review the information found in an earlier bulletin (InFO 07001) on noise-cancelling headset use which can be accessed at http://go.usa.gov/cZdDz.

FAA Updates Airspace Obstruction Standards

The FAA issued a revised Advisory Circular (AC 70/7460-1L) that updates guidelines for the proper way to light and mark obstructions affecting navigable airspace. Among the changes include the requirement for the FAA to determine whether a structure that is 200 feet above ground level (AGL) or higher, or near an airport, does not pose an airspace hazard. Also included are new lighting specifications for wind turbines, new lighting and marking standards for reducing the impact on migratory bird populations, and standards for voluntary marking of meteorological evaluation towers lower than 200 feet.

2016 Aviation Maintenance Awards Course on Rationalizations

The 2016 Aviation Maintenance Technician Awards program core course, titled “Failure to Follow Procedures — Rationalizations,” is now available on the FAA Safety Team website www.FAASafety.gov. You can find it by searching for course ALC-445 in the site’s course catalog or by clicking the Hot Topics banner on the home page.

The course is intended to provide an understanding about why policies, procedures, instructions, rules, regulations, and best practices exist and why they are the “safety net” foundation for aviation maintenance safety.

The course also introduces five of the most common “rationalizations” that mechanics use to justify when they are about to intentionally deviate from these safety nets. The course takes approximately one and a half hours to complete and also counts as training that mechanics with Inspection Authorization (IA) can use toward their IA renewal.

New App for National Airspace System (NAS)

A new smartphone app by the FAA called the B4UFLY app tells users about current or upcoming requirements and restrictions in areas of the National Airspace System (NAS) where they may want to operate their UAS. The app provides a status indicator that tells users: “Proceed with Caution,” “Warning — Action Required,” or “Flight Prohibited.” The app also features a planner mode that allows users to select a different time and location for an upcoming flight and determine if there are any restrictions at that place and time.

Source: March/April issue of the FAA Safety Briefing magazine

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