Saturday, May 3, 2014

We're Not Happy Until You're Not Happy

...or just inconvenienced, for silly reasons.

So I must admit I have not been legal to fly as PIC for awhile now. For two reasons:

1. After my marriage, I had yet to change my name on my pilot certificate.
2. My letter of special issuance for my medical had expired.

Let's start with reason 1:

I cannot find this in the CFRs, but I'm sure there's a deadline somewhere. You must make notice of a change of address with the FAA within 30 days of the change for your certificate to remain valid. CFR § 61.25 covers documents required to change your name, but does not mention how quickly the change must be done. If you know, feel free to comment below and let me know.

I try to keep everything in order and legal with the FAA, so I figured I've been married a year and half I have to get this done stat (another reason being to satisfy #2 mentioned above). What does one do to change their name with the FSDO? They must make an appointment and meet with an FAA employee in person. Yep, I don't know why I have to drive to a FSDO for copies to be made, but whatever. I'm not the FAA. Believe me, I tried to avoid the hour drive to the Baltimore FSDO, heck, I avoided it for almost two years :) 

You want to bring with you photo identification with your correct name (driver's license, passport, etc), your current pilot certificate and proof of name change (my marriage certificate). Bring a completed top half portion of the 8710 form with you as well. Don't worry, they will go over it with you to ensure you completed it correctly. In the "other" section, write "name change".

It's pretty simple, except we ran into a potential problem: I had changed my middle name, too. The FAA requires a court ordered document to show a middle name change. I was under the impression my marriage certificate would suffice and that was a legal court document. They pressed that they may need more but submitted it as-is since what I wanted it changed to matched my driver's license. So, I was handed a temporary airmen's certificate and am now anxiously awaiting the green plastic version in the mail. I hope I do not have to do anything further to make my name "legal". The marriage license was provided by the courthouse and signed with my new name, so I do not see why I would need anything further. Other than that issue and the inconvenient drive, it was a rather painless half hour of my time at the FSDO.

Time for reason 2:

I have a special issuance medical due to a retinal detachment back in 2010. I am perfectly fine now and continue to be. It is highly unlikely I will have a problem again and even more unlikely I will have a problem while in flight. However, my third class medical is limited to a year without supplying proper documentation to the FAA aeromedical office.  

There are two dates on my special issuance letter: 1. The day the authorization expires and 2. The date my next AME visit needs to be done. Up until now these dates have been the same. To my surprise, I carefully read the letter recently and learned I do not need to visit the AME again until 2018-yay! However, my medical is still not valid past a year. I must submit requested documentation to the FAA before that date for them to return a new medical to me without a lapse.

Unfortunately, it took several months for me to get into my retinal specialist and even more time to receive the paperwork back. Due to that and being busy with Women Of Aviation Week around my winter expiration, my letter and medical lapsed. To add to the mix, I needed to send proof of my name change (temporary pilot certificate) as the name on my medical paperwork does not match that on my special issuance letter. I knew the FAA would have an issue with that.

I was on hold for a very long time with the FAA last week trying to figure out what to do and get the fax number. Luckily, when I called this week to ensure they received the fax, I was quickly assisted and the lady was quite kind. Now the paperwork is in the doctors hands, or will be soon. It's just a waiting game.

I know I do not have it as bad as many pilots struggling to become legal to fly as PIC, but I feel like this process could be made easier (ex: mailing in proof for name change) to streamline and speed up simple changes.

What are your experiences with changes through the FAA and medical paperwork?

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