According to the new FAA rule, as of April 1st, 2016 all new pilots will have to apply for their student pilot certificates through IACRA or on a paper 8710-1 (not encouraged). It helps to repeat after me “IACRA is my friend” because a positive attitude helps immensely when navigating this website for the first time. All DPEs (and many FAA Inspectors) initially struggled with this process but it works amazingly well once you understand the logic. You have probably worked this site recommending pilot applicants, this is a similar process. There is actual necessity for the complexity when you consider how many diverse certificates and ratings it needs to produce. Full disclosure; this is how this site operated when we did this as a DPE, I am assured the site uses the same process with “recommending instructor” as validator. I just spent considerable time with the help desk and they checked this description for accuracy. When I head home from SnF I have two students to enter so we shall see! The pdf manual for IACRA is here. The help desk number is now (844)322-6948.
First, remember you (CFI, DPE, ACR) are the validator of this applicant’s identity. This is from the 61.65F “In accordance with §61.193(b), before processing an application for a student pilot certificate, the authorized individual must ensure the applicant meets the eligibility requirements of § 61.83 as well as verify the applicant’s identity. The authorized individual should use AC 60-28 and the ICAO Web site to prepare for the assessment.” (And yes, you do need to meet face-to-face not a virtual arrangement)
Every “validator” or agent will login for this process with the role of “recommending instructor” (as DPE I have done many glider and sport pilots with that role but that is gone). Before starting, remember your applicant will need valid proof of identity: an unexpired government ID with a photo and printed expiration date is required. For young people without a license or passport that can be a sheriff’s ID so get that process started early. Make sure you have a fairly new web browser (without a pop-up blocker activated) and you have a pdf reader installed on your computer.
This whole process begins with your applicant. They need to access the IARA website and establish a login and password and obtain their FTN (Federal Tracking Number). The new 61.65F is a little misleading here.
Your student will now log out and then back into IACRA with this unique FTN and apply for their student pilot certificate. This is simple with 6 fields to complete.
They are applying for a “pilot certificate” and the selection should be “student.” Like gliders and sport, no medical is needed here. The medical travels separately and could be acquired later (before solo obviously) according to the help desk. Here are some FAQs from the FAA guidance.
Once all six tabs in the application process are green, click “review”. This button should pop up a pdf of the application (depending on your internet connection this might require some waiting). Make sure you do not have a pop-up blocker set in your browser. This “review” step is required first before “submit” to make that button active. Once the applicant has reviewed the application (opened the pdf) close the document at the top of the pdf and they click “submit.” Once this is complete it should be available on-line for the CFI , DPE or ACR to retrieve and validate. All validators for a student pilot certificate will enter IACRA in the role of “recommending instructor.”
So now finally it’s the CFI’s turn to login. You will need to meet with your student here since you validate their identity and command of English for this certification. This process should not be performed remotely. ON the IACRA site, put in your (CFI) username and password and accept the “terms of service” in the role of “recommending instructor.”
When the page loads you will enter the student’s FTN in the box and it should bring up their application for action. There should be a pull down with several options here. This will open a page with a list of hyperlinked actions you need to complete in order. First is verification of identification. You must enter the data from the approved government ID accurately…check it twice!
There will be a link for the applicant to now login again to “review” and “sign” their application (in each case “close” the pdf with the button on the top). The “signature” is a blue hyperlink which will center on the pdf and only requires a mouse click. If this does not appear, check for a pop-up blocker or suitable pdf reader installed on the computer. This can be slow depending on your internet connection. Once the application is “signed”, close this at the top of the document and the student’s part is complete.
As the final step, the CFI logs back in (with your CFI login/password) and again enters the student’s FTN as before. Now you should be able to complete the certification process with a “review” and “sign”. Both are pop-up pdfs and you might again need to wait.
There is lots of discussion about which browser to use for the IACRA process but most webkit versions work fine. My favorite, that seems to work on Mac or PC, is Firefox. Remember in every step you will always have to “review” before you “sign” or the field will be gray and inoperative. Check your browser for a “pop-up blocker” or the pdfs will not load. Take your time and remember to always scroll to the bottom of the page for the action buttons…be patient and good luck!
Personally I would copy the final result with the date so you can track the progress on the application. There are many guesses on how long the plastic student pilot certificate will take coming from the FAA.
Let me know if you discover snags in this description and I will update this so we create a clean and usable document for all CFIs and move this process forward. When I put a student through this process I will add any details that differ in the new sequence…good luck. If you have a problem, please write a comment and we can all learn something. Thanks…I hope this helps.
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