FAA to reinstate testing centers

December 15, 2008

Testing centers reinstatedSome 60 testing centers will once again be allowed to administer written pilot knowledge exams after AOPA called on  the FAA to reverse a policy change that revoked testing privileges from roughly 160 testing centers nationwide.

The FAA has said it will reinstate testing privileges at all centers that applied for reconsideration earlier this year. The centers had lost the right to administer FAA knowledge tests because they gave fewer than 25 tests in a 12-month period. The agency had also said it would set minimum distance requirements between testing centers and require testing center employees to become FAA designees.

But AOPA argued that by making it more difficult for pilot candidates to find a testing center, the policy undermined the goal of growing the pilot population. In addition, AOPA said, the policy was unfair to centers that had made an investment in the necessary equipment to administer the tests and to flight schools that wanted to provide a full range of services to their students.

“AOPA has worked diligently to educate the FAA about the unintended negative consequences of this policy, and we are pleased that the agency has decided to restore so many testing centers,” said Leisha Bell, AOPA manager of regulatory affairs.

Previously AOPA had argued successfully that market demand, not mileage requirements, should determine the number of testing centers in any given area. The association also had persuaded the FAA that requiring testing center employees to become agency designees would impose unnecessary and costly time and travel burdens on those businesses.