As a followup to my article “Foreign (Non-U.S. Citizen) A&P Applicants” in the May 2013 issue of Aircraft Maintenance Technology, I have been requested to discuss non-English speaking A&P mechanics with certificates “Valid Only Outside the U.S.”
Having a certificate “Valid Only Outside the U.S.” are special certificates and requires different procedures for both the FAA inspector, Designated Mechanic Examiner (DME), and the applicant.
After an applicant passes the written exams, the foreign applicant endorsed in the United States must take the practical test with a DME located in the United States in most cases. This only applies if you were signed endorsed by a Flight Standard District Office (FSDO) inspector. However, if you were endorsed by an International Field Office (IFO) inspector you can take the oral and practical test in your native language outside the United States. It sounds confusing, but keep reading.
The Federal Aviation Administration has procedures that are unique to foreign applicants located outside the United States. The current edition of FAA Order 8900.2 of the General Aviation Airman Designee Handbook establishes certification policy.
This policy does not apply to foreign applicants in the United States. Any applicant who is in the United States and meets the English language and experience requirements is entitled to take the examinations for a mechanic certificate. The current editions of Advisory Circulars (AC) 65-2, Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic’s Certification Guide and AC 65-30, Overview of the Aviation Maintenance Profession provide further guidance regarding foreign applicants within the United States.
When foreign nationals are physically located outside the United States at the time of the examination, the FAA IFO inspector must determine that the mechanic certificate is needed for the continued airworthiness (maintenance) of U.S.-registered civil aircraft and that the applicant is neither a U.S. citizen nor a resident alien.
For an A&P authorization, the FAA must determine the applicant’s ability to read, write, speak, and understand the English language. Applicants who do not meet this requirement but are employed outside the United States by a U.S. air carrier may be eligible if they present a certified statement (original document) from a company official or supervisor attesting to their employment status. Certificates issued to applicants shall be endorsed “Valid only outside the United States” and ensure the following are accomplished:
- The certificated U.S. air carrier has submitted documentation regarding the applicant’s employment status and need for certification.
- The knowledge test is accomplished in accordance with Order 8080.6 via the Computer Medium, current edition, as it relates to applicants who do not read, write, speak, or understand English.
- The oral and practical tests are administered by an inspector or examiner (DME) in the applicant’s language, or through the use of a neutral interpreter selected or accepted by the inspector or examiner.
- Applicants must be notified that the authorization to test is applicable only to Designated Mechanic Examiners (DME) who exercise privileges in the International Field Office (IFO) and the Flight Standards District Office (FSDO). Should the applicant wish to test with a DME in another district, additional FAA approval will be required.
The FAA must also determine the applicant’s experience eligibility. The FAA inspector must ensure foreign applicants provide a signed, dated, detailed statement substantiating the specific type and duration of experience.
- Determine that these statements come from both an employer and either the airworthiness authority of the country in which the experience was gained or an airworthiness advisor of ICAO.
- The FAA will not accept information that cannot be verified or documented. The FAA does require each document presented to verify experience to be a signed and dated original, traceable to the originator.
- If the foreign civil authority will not provide the statement listed above, the inspector may determine eligibility through whatever means he/she deems appropriate.
Recently I have been getting a lot of requests from young people for some information on how to become a mechanic, and what the work around aircraft is like.
The path to Inspection Authorization
I have been told that getting an FAA field approval is a lot like getting an elephant pregnant.