A Pilot's Perspective.

By Barry Meek.

January 2009

The Painless Pilot License

             Filling out paperwork and forms is not something that’s on my list of favorite things to do.  Like many readers out there, I resent the intrusions into my simple life with demands to complete paperwork for the bank, city hall, or a registration for warranty on a new computer.  And most of all, I detest the endless paperwork from the government.  They must know that too because they irritate me further by always sending me the “Long Form” at census time.  They make me file my income tax on a quarterly basis.  They returned my initial passport application because my signature touched the line in the little box when I signed it.

            Now, they’re after us all to apply for a new format pilot’s license. 

            If you’re a pilot, you’ve been notified by now.  Transport Canadaseems to know they needed to send at least two reminders to me.  As usual, I lost the first one having never even read it. 

           When the last one came in the mail, it stated that ATPL and commercial licenses will be first to be processed into the new booklet format.  All these will be replaced by March 31, 2009.  Private licenses will be changed at a later date.  If you don’t apply, your license in the OLD format will no longer be valid when your medical expires.

           Since I’ll be out of the country for most of the winter, it was necessary to bite the bullet and apply right away.  It turns out to be quite a simple process, and almost painless.  Apart from the passport-style photograph required, there is no cost to the pilot.  The whole thing is similar to applying for a passport, including having a guarantor sign to confirm your identity matches the picture.  One nice change that they have made is the requirement for the guarantor has been relaxed.  You no longer need to find a lawyer, a doctor or professor who has known you for two years to vouch for you.  At this time, your guarantor can be anyone you know provided he/she is a Canadian passport holder and meets a few other criteria.  It makes things much easier. 

              Something else coming down the pipe is the new requirement for Language Proficiency.  They’re saying it will apply to new licenses only, and there are tests being set up involving some interactive role-playing, probably right at the flight schools.  It is quite simple but as usual, Transport seems to have described it to seem very complicated. 

          The whole point of this article then is to reassure you that this entire change is not something you need to be afraid of.  The procedure is simple, it involves just one page on which your name, address and a few other details are inserted.  You need the passport picture done, then you mail it off to your local office of Transport Canada.  The websites involved explain in great detail (more than you need to know actually) all the policies, procedures, and other information.  But don’t lose any sleep over it.  I’m the worst one for this type of  bureaucratic paper shuffling and if I can honestly tell you not to worry, then don’t.  Just do it.  It really is painless.

                My application got into the mail November 15, and the little booklet was in my hands December 07, 2008.  Seems an incredibly short time given we’re dealing with two organizations that are usually not know for punctual service, Transport Canada and the Post Office.  Surprises never cease.

               The website you’ll need is   http://www.tc.gc.ca/civilaviation/general/personnel/changes.htm

              Best of luck to you.

Barry Meek [email protected]

              Well, surprises never cease.  Transport Canada had stated these new licenses would not be sent out immediately.  I took that to mean it may come to me sometime in the New Year.  However, I’m happy to say that as of this date (Dec. 04) my new license booklet is here in my hands! 

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