Conversion of Foreign Licence
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I am an Australian citizen who has permanent residency here in the US.  I maintain an FAA PPL based on the currency of my Australian PPL.  However, this means that I have to periodically return to Australia to undertake my medical and flight reviews and then undertake another flight review here in the US before I am legal again.  I am considering downgrading to a Sport Pilot Licence with Basic Med. What additional do I have to do to obtain a US Sport Pilot Licence which I can renew here without having to keep returning to Australia?  Many thanks in anticipation.

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1521 Posts

The only way to avoid relying on your Aussie PPL and FR is to obtain a regular US PPL or Sport Pilot certificate by taking the FAA written and practical tests. Of course all your prior flight time counts towards the aeronautical experience requirements, including training time from Aussie CFI"s, but at the very least, you'll need three hours of training with a US CFI to prepare for the checkride. And that's all true whether you want a Sport or Private FAA pilot certificate

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Hi Alan,

I agree with Ron. Just some follow up information.

 Since this will be seen as a initial FAA certificate by the TSA, and you're not a US citizen, you will need to undergo the TSA threat assessment as well. Details on what needs to be done can be found here. Either the sport license or private will allow you to escape the requirement to maintain your Australian certificate, but both will require you to comply with these requirements.

BasicMed would only be available to you if you've meet the prerequisites of BasicMed, which if you've never had a FAA medical you wouldn't meet. However, a medical isn't required for sport pilot, so you won't have to worry about that. If you have further questions about the process just reply to this post or reach out to the actual Pilot Information Center and we'd be glad to help. 1-800-USA-AOPA.

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Oh, that's an interesting note. I am also in Alan's situation (except that my PPL is from Kenya) and am about to take the knowledge test (having taken an online course). I talked to my local FSDO inspector recently, and they never mentioned this TSA requirement. They only said that to get a standard certificate I will have to pass the two tests. I fly with CFIs and ask them to prepare me for the checkride. I do this legally since I have a current foreign-based certificate. I log this time as PIC. These flights look more like flight reviews, although I explain my situation to the CFIs whom I fly with. So, are you saying that at some point, either before the checkride, or before being issued a standard license, the TSA will step in my way? Their website says that only those non-citizens seeking flight training need this approval. But I am not formally receiving any flight training, I am not a student pilot. For this reason, I believe that I cannot even apply for their approval using their website. This is pretty confusing.

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1521 Posts

Kirill Voloshin: 
 

Oh, that's an interesting note. I am also in Alan's situation (except that my PPL is from Kenya) and am about to take the knowledge test (having taken an online course). I talked to my local FSDO inspector recently, and they never mentioned this TSA requirement. They only said that to get a standard certificate I will have to pass the two tests.

That's because it's not an FAA requirement – it's a TSA requirement.

 I fly with CFIs and ask them to prepare me for the checkride. I do this legally since I have a current foreign-based certificate. I log this time as PIC. These flights look more like flight reviews, although I explain my situation to the CFIs whom I fly with. So, are you saying that at some point, either before the checkride, or before being issued a standard license, the TSA will step in my way?

Those FAA-licensed CFI's should not be giving you any instruction which can be used to meet the Part 61 requirements for issuance of a US Private Pilot certificate without complying with the TSA Alien Flight Student Program rules.

 Their website says that only those non-citizens seeking flight training need this approval. But I am not formally receiving any flight training, I am not a student pilot. For this reason, I believe that I cannot even apply for their approval using their website. This is pretty confusing.

The fact that you are not a Student Pilot doesn't mean you are “not formally receiving any flight training.”  Lots of people receive training for their Private Pilot certificate before they get a Student Pilot  certificate which is only required to solo  If it's going in your logbook signed by a CFI, it's flight training, and if it can be used to meet the Part 61 requirements for an FAA Private Pilot certificate, the TSA rules come into play.  My opinion is you need to contact TSA for guidance.

DHS TSA (flightschoolcandidates.gov)

 

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Thank you! This is all very informative (and unexpected). I will contact the TSA.

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Thank you everyone for your responses and input.