Changes to Private Pilot Airplane Practical Test Standards, August 2002

August 1, 2002

Changes to Private Pilot Airplane Practical Test Standards

August 2002

The single biggest change is the reorganization of the Private Pilot PTS to incorporate single-engine land and sea and multiengine land and sea sections into one consolidated document with two sections (single and multiengine), thus reducing the Private Pilot PTS to about half the page count.

Some tasks have been reorganized into other areas of operation but have not substantially changed in their requirements or standards.

Private Pilot Airplane—Single-Engine Land and Single-Engine Sea

Summary of changes included in the introduction:

  • Practical Test Standards Description:
    • This text has been added: "The ground portion of the practical test shall be accomplished before the flight portion."

  • Special Emphasis Areas:
    • Examiners shall place special emphasis upon areas of aircraft operations considered critical to flight safety. Among these are:
      • Positive aircraft control
      • Positive exchange of the flight controls procedure (who is flying the airplane)
      • Stall/spin awareness
      • Collision avoidance
      • Wake turbulence avoidance
      • land and hold short operations (LAHSO)
      • Runway incursion avoidance
      • Controlled flight into terrain (CFIT)
      • Aeronautical decision making (ADM)
      • Checklist usage, and
      • Other areas deemed appropriate to any phase of the practical test.

Although these areas may not be specifically addressed under each Task, they are essential to flight safety and will be evaluated during the practical test. In all instances, the applicant's actions will relate to the complete situation.

  • Examiner Responsibility:
    • This text has been added: "If the examiner determines that a Task is incomplete, or the outcome uncertain, the examiner may require the applicant to repeat that Task, or portions of that Task." This provision has been made in the interest of fairness and does not mean that instruction, practice, or the repeating of an unsatisfactory task is permitted during the certification process. When practical, the remaining Tasks of the practical test phase should be completed before repeating the questionable Task.

      On multiengine practical tests where the failure of the most critical engine after liftoff is required, the examiner must give consideration to local atmospheric conditions, terrain, and type of aircraft used. However, the failure of an engine shall not be simulated until attaining at least V SSE/V YSE and at an altitude not lower than 200 feet AGL.

      During simulated engine failures on multiengine practical tests the examiner shall set zero thrust after the applicant has simulated feathering the propeller. The examiner shall require the applicant to demonstrate at least one landing with a simulated-feathered propeller with the engine set to zero thrust.

  • Unsatisfactory Performance, last paragraph:
    • This text has been added: "The Area(s) of Operation/Task(s) not tested and the number of practical test failures shall also be recorded." If the applicant fails the practical test because of a special emphasis area, the Notice of Disapproval shall indicate the associated Task

  • Positive Exchange of Flight Controls.
    • This is a new section detailing a positive three-step process of the exchange of flight controls:

      "During flight training, there must always be a clear understanding between students and flight instructors of who has control of the aircraft." Prior to flight, a briefing should be conducted that includes the procedure for the exchange of flight controls. A positive three-step process in the exchange of flight controls between pilots is a proven procedure and one that is strongly recommended.

      When the instructor wishes the student to take control of the aircraft, he or she will say, "You have the flight controls." The student acknowledges immediately by saying, "I have the flight controls." The flight instructor again says, "You have the flight controls." When control is returned to the instructor, follow the same procedure. A visual check is recommended to verify that the exchange has occurred. There should never be any doubt as to who is flying the aircraft.
  • Area of Operation I: Preflight Preparation
    • New note added: "The examiner shall develop a scenario based on real-time weather to evaluate Tasks C and D." (Tasks C and D are Weather Information and Cross-Country Flight Planning)
    • Has deleted Task G: Minimum Equipment List.

    • A. Task: Certificates and Documents
      • New text (in italics) added to 1.a. as follows: "private pilot certificate privileges, limitations, and recent flight experience requirements."
    • B. Task: Airworthiness Requirements
      • This is a new Task that includes explaining required instruments and equipment for day/night VFR, procedures and limitations for determining airworthiness of the airplane with inoperative instruments and equipment with and without an MEL, and requirements and procedures for obtaining a special flight permit.

        This Task also now includes items that were previously categorized under Certificates and Documents; i.e., locating and explaining ADs, compliance records, maintenance/inspection requirements, and appropriate record keeping.
    • C. Task: Weather Information
      • Expanded weather knowledge required on weather charts and ATIS reports. Previously placed emphasis on pireps, sigmets, and airmets. Now the emphasis is on:
        • METAR, TAF, and FA
        • Surface analysis chart
        • Radar summary chart
        • Winds and temperature aloft chart
        • Significant weather prognostic charts
        • Convective outlook chart
        • AWOS, ASOS, and ATIS reports.

    • D. Task: Cross-country Flight Planning
      • Requirement to "plot a course" has been deleted.
      • Requirement to "confirm availability of alternate airports" has been deleted.

    • H. Task: Water and Seaplane Characteristics
      • New knowledge item in list of the characteristics of a water surface: "vessel traffic and wakes."

    • J. Task: Aeromedical Factors
      • "dehydration" added as an area of knowledge.

  • Area of Operation II: Preflight Procedures
    • C. Task: Engine Starting
      • New text added to 1. as follows: hand propping safety

    • E. Task: Taxiing and Sailing
      • Previous PTS separated these two procedures into two tasks. The following objectives have been deleted:
        • Demonstrates 180- or 360-degree turns as appropriate.
        • Recognizes when power-on sailing and power-off sailing should be used.
        • Changes direction while sailing toward a downwind point to sailing toward a crosswind point.
        • Controls seaplane speed, as required.

  • Area of Operation IV: Takeoffs, Landings, and Go Arounds

    • A.Task: Normal and Crosswind Takeoff and Climb
      • ASES) Deleted "Selects a takeoff path appropriate to the existing water conditions."
      • (ASES) Deleted "Avoids excessive water spray on the propeller."

    • B. Task: Normal and Crosswind Approach and Landing
      • (ASES) Deleted: "Considers the wind conditions, water surface condition and depth, hazards, surrounding terrain, and other watercraft." Replaced this text with "Adequately surveys the intended landing area (ASES)."

    • C. Task: Soft-field Takeoff and Climb
      • Deleted objective to "comply with noise abatement procedures."

    • E. Task: Short-field Takeoff (Confined Area—ASES) and Maximum Performance Climb
      • Deleted from ASES
        • Retracts the water rudders
        • Makes plowing and step turns into the wind at the proper speed and appropriate radius.

    • G. Task: Glassy Water Takeoff and Climb (ASES)
      • Changed "Lifts off, ensures a positive rate of climb, and avoids inadvertent water contact after lift-off." New text: "Utilizes appropriate techniques to lift seaplane from the water considering surface conditions."

    • I. Task: Rough Water Takeoff and Climb (ASES)
      • Changed "Clears the area, taxis into the takeoff position and aligns the seaplane properly—considering the takeoff path." New text: "Clears the area; selects an appropriate takeoff path considering wind, swells, surface hazards and/or vessels."
      • Changed "Lifts off, accelerates to V Y, establishes the pitch attitude for V Y and maintains V Y, +10/-5 knots, during the climb." New text: "Lifts off at minimum airspeed and accelerates to V Y, +10/-5 knots before leaving ground effect."
    • L. Task: Go Around/Rejected Landing
      • Adds "Maneuvers to the side of the runway/landing area to clear and avoid conflicting traffic."

  • Area of Operation V: Performance Maneuver

    • Task: Steep Turns
    • Deleted "Selects an altitude of no lower than 1,500 feet AGL." (No altitude minimum is stated).

  • Area of Operation VI: Ground Reference Maneuvers

    • New note: "The examiner shall select at least one Task." (Rectangular Course, S-Turns, or Turns Around a Point)
    • Task: Turns around a Point
      • No longer specifies 45 degrees as steepest point of bank. Says instead, "Applies adequate wind-drift correction to track a constant radius turn around the selected reference point."


  • Area of Operation VII: Navigation

    • B. Task: Navigation Systems and Radar Services
      • Adds: "Demonstrates the ability to use an airborne electronic navigation system."
      • Adds a heading parameter: +/-15 degrees.

    • C. Task: Diversion
      • Deletes the requirement to "divert promptly to the alternate airport."

    • D. Task: Lost Procedures
      • Deletes "plans a precautionary landing if deteriorating weather or fuel exhaustion is imminent."

  • Area of Operation VIII: Slow Flight and Stalls

    • A. Task: Maneuvering During Slow Flight
      • Angle of bank must be held +/-10 degrees (was +/-20 degrees).
      • Changed "Stabilizes the airspeed at 1.2 V S1, +10/-5 knots." New text says, "Establishes and maintains an airspeed at which any further increase in angle of attack, increase in load factor,or reduction in power, would result in an immediate stall."

    • B. Task: Power-off Stalls
      • Angle of bank not to exceed 20 degrees (was 30 degrees).

    • C. Task: Power-on Stalls
      • New Note: "In some high performance airplanes, the power setting may have to be reduced below the practical test standards guideline power setting to prevent excessively high pitch attitudes (greater than 30 degrees nose up)."
      • New power setting "to no less than 65 percent available power."

    • D. Task: Spin Awareness
      • Added knowledge requirement of "aerodynamic factors related to spins."

  • IX. Area of Operation IX: Basic Instrument Maneuvers

    • New Note: "The examiner shall select task E and at least two other Tasks." (That means three of six tasks are now required to be tested).

    • B. Task: Constant Airspeed Climbs
      • Add "turns" to the demonstration of "climbs solely by reference to instruments at a constant airspeed to specific altitudes in straight flight and turns."

    • C. Task: Constant Airspeed Descents
      • Added "turns" to the demonstration of "descents solely by reference to instruments at a constant airspeed to specific altitudes in straight flight and turns."

    • D. Task: Turns to Headings
      • Roll out now +/-10 degrees (was +/-20 degrees).

  • Area of Operation X: Emergency Operations

    • A. Task: Emergency Approach and Landing (Simulated)
      • This new task is a combination of two tasks in the old PTS: Emergency Descent and Emergency Approach and Landing. These objectives have been deleted:
        • Establishes the recommended emergency descent configuration and airspeed, and maintains that airspeed, +/-5 knots.
        • Demonstrates orientation, division of attention, and proper planning.

        These are the new objectives:

        • Exhibits knowledge of the elements related to emergency approach and landing procedures.
        • Analyzes the situation and selects an appropriate course of action.
        • Establishes and maintains the recommended best-glide airspeed, +/-10 knots.
        • Selects a suitable landing area.
        • Plans and follows a flight pattern to the selected landing area considering altitude, wind, terrain, and obstructions.
        • Prepares for landing, or go-around, as specified by the examiner.
        • Follows the appropriate checklist.
    • B. Task: Systems and Equipment Malfunctions
      • Adds vacuum/pressure, and pitot/static as possible simulated emergencies.

    • C. Task: Emergency Equipment and Survival Gear
      • The following paragraph summarizes what was previously a detailed list: "Exhibits knowledge of the elements related to emergency equipment and survival gear appropriate to the airplane and environment encountered during flight. Identifies appropriate equipment that should be aboard the airplane."
      • This is the list from the old PTS: "Exhibits knowledge of the elements related to emergency equipment and survival gear appropriate to the airplane/seaplane used for the practical test, such as
        • Location in the airplane/seaplane.
        • Method of operation or use.
        • Servicing requirements.
        • Method of safe storage.
        • Equipment and survival gear appropriate for operation in various climates and topographical environments."

  • Area of Operation XI: Night Operation

    • There were two tasks in this area of operation: Night Preparation and Night Flight. Night Preparation remains as it was. Night Flight has been deleted. It was an oral evaluation as follows:
      • OLD PTS: Note: The examiner shall orally evaluate element 1 and at least one of the elements, 2 through 6.
        • Exhibits knowledge of the elements related to night flight.
        • Inspects the interior and exterior of the airplane/seaplane with emphasis on those items essential for night flight.
        • Taxies and accomplishes the before takeoff check adhering to good operating practice for night conditions.
        • Performs takeoffs and climbs with emphasis on visual references.
        • Navigates and maintains orientation under VFR conditions.
        • Approaches, lands, and taxies, adhering to good operating practices for night conditions.
        • Completes all appropriate checklists.

  • Area of Operation XII: Postflight Procedures

    • A. Task: After Landing, Parking, and Securing
      • The new PTS combines two tasks, After Landing and Parking and Securing into one task After Landing, Parking, and Securing to eliminate redundancy.
      • Adds "Maintains directional control after touchdown while decelerating to an appropriate speed."
      • Adds "Observes runway hold lines and other surface control markings and lighting."

Private Pilot Airplane—Multiengine Land and Multiengine Sea

  • Summary of changes:

    • Area of Operation I: Preflight Preparation
      • Now includes a new section on Airworthiness Requirements
      • Has deleted Task E: Minimum Equipment List.
      • Tasks on Performance and Limitations and Operation of Systems have been moved from Section XI. Multiengine Operations to the Preflight Preparation Section Task F: Performance and Limitations, and Task G: Operation of Systems.
      • Now includes a new section H: Task: Principles of Flight—Engine Inoperative.

    • Area of Operation XI: Multiengine Operations
      • Now includes the tasks: Engine Failure during Flight (By Reference to Instruments), Instrument Approach—One Engine Inoperative which were previously in Area of Operation: Performance Maneuvers.

    • Area of Operation XII: Night Operation no longer has a subsection on Night Flight

  • Area of Operation I: Preflight Preparation

    • A. Task: Certificates and Documents
      • New note added: "The examiner shall develop a scenario based on real-time weather to evaluate Tasks C and D." (Tasks C and D are Weather Information and Cross-Country Flight Planning)

    • B. Task: Airworthiness Requirements includes
      • This is a new Task that includes explaining required instruments and equipment for day/night VFR, procedures and limitations for determining airworthiness of the airplane with inoperative instruments and equipment with and without an MEL, and requirements and procedures for obtaining a special flight permit.

        This Task also now includes items that were previously categorized under Certificates and Documents; i.e., locating and explaining ADs, compliance records, maintenance/inspection requirements, and appropriate record keeping.

    • C. Task: Weather Information
      • Expanded weather knowledge required on weather charts and ATIS reports. Previously placed emphasis on pireps, sigmets, and airmets. Now the emphasis is on:
        • METAR, TAF, and FA
        • Surface analysis chart
        • Radar summary chart
        • Winds and temperature aloft chart
        • Significant weather prognostic charts
        • Convective outlook chart
        • AWOS, ASOS, and ATIS reports.

    • D. Task: Cross-country Flight Planning
      • Requirement to "plot a course" has been deleted.
      • Requirement to "confirm availability of alternate airports" has been deleted.

    • F. Task: Performance and Limitations
      • This task was previously located in Section XI. Multiengine Operations

    • G. Task: Operation of Systems
      • This task was previously located in Section XI. Multiengine Operations

    • H. Task; Principles of Flight—Engine Inoperative
      • This task was previously located in Section XI. Multiengine Operations

    • I. Task: Water and Seaplane Characteristics
      • New knowledge item in list of the characteristics of a water surface: "vessel traffic and wakes."

    • J. Task: Aeromedical Factors
      • "dehydration" added as an area of knowledge.

  • Area of Operation II: Preflight Procedures

    • B. Task: Cockpit Management
      • Added "Ensures all loose items in the cockpit and cabin are secured."

    • E. Task: Taxiing and Sailing
      • Previous PTS separated these two procedures into two tasks. The following objectives have been deleted:
        • Demonstrates 180- or 360-degree turns as appropriate.
        • Recognizes when power-on sailing and power-off sailing should be used.
        • Changes direction while sailing toward a downwind point to sailing toward a crosswind point.
      • Controls seaplane speed, as required.

  • Area of Operation III: Airport and Seaplane Base Operations

    • F. Task: Before Takeoff Check
      • Added "Avoids runway incursion."

  • Area of Operation IV: Takeoffs, Landings, and Go-Arounds

    • A. Task: Normal and Crosswind Takeoff and Climb
      • Added "Exhibits knowledge of rejected takeoff procedures."

    • G. Task: Glassy Water Takeoff and Climb (ASES)
      • Changed "Lifts off, ensures a positive rate of climb, and avoids inadvertent water contact after lift-off." New text: "Utilizes appropriate techniques to lift seaplane from the water considering surface conditions."

    • I. Task: Rough Water Takeoff and Climb (ASES)
      • Changed "Clears the area, taxis into the takeoff position and aligns the seaplane properly—considering the takeoff path." New text: "Clears the area; selects an appropriate takeoff path considering wind, swells, surface hazards and/or vessels."
      • Changed "Lifts off, accelerates to V Y, establishes the pitch attitude for V Y and maintains V Y, +10/-5 knots, during the climb." New text: "Lifts off at minimum airspeed and accelerates to V Y, +10/-5 knots before leaving ground effect."

    • K. Task: Go-Around/Rejected Landing
      • New: "Maneuvers to the side of the runway/landing area to clear and avoid conflicting traffic."

  • Area of Operation VI: Ground Reference Maneuvers

    • New note: "The examiner shall select at least one Task." (Rectangular Course, S-Turns, or Turns Around a Point)

    • Task: Turns around a Point
      • No longer specifies 45 degrees as steepest point of bank. Says instead, "Applies adequate wind-drift correction to track a constant radius turn around the selected reference point."

  • Area of Operation VII: Navigation

    • B. Task: Navigation Systems and Radar Services
      • New: "Demonstrates the ability to use an airborne electronic navigation system."
      • New heading hold parameter: +/-15 degrees.

    • C. Task: Diversion
      • Deletes the requirement to "divert promptly to alternate."

    • D. Task: Lost Procedures
      • Deletes requirement to "Plan a precautionary landing if deteriorating weather and/or fuel exhaustion is impending."

  • Area of Operation Viii: Slow Flight and Stalls

    • B. Task: Power-off Stalls
      • Specified angle of bank not to exceed 20 degrees (was 30 degrees).

    • C. Task: Power-on Stalls
      • New Note: "In some high performance airplanes the power setting may have to be reduced below the practical test standards guideline power setting to prevent excessively high pitch attitudes (greater than 30 degrees nose up)."
      • New: "Sets power to no less than 65 percent available power."

    • D. Task: Spin Awarerness
      • New knowledge area: "Aerodynamic factors related to spins."

  • Area of Operation IX: Basic Instrument Maneuvers

    • New Note: "The examiner shall select task E and at least two other Tasks." (That means three of six tasks are now required to be tested).

    • B. Task: Constant Airspeed Climbs
      • Add "turns" to the demonstration of "climbs solely by reference to instruments at a constant airspeed to specific altitudes in straight flight and turns."

    • C. Task: Constant Airspeed Descents
      • Added "turns" to the demonstration of "descents solely by reference to instruments at a constant airspeed to specific altitudes in straight flight and turns."

  • Area of Operation X: Emergency Operations

    • New Note: "Examiners shall select an entry altitude that will allow the single engine demonstrations task to be completed no lower than 3,000 feet (920 meters) AGL or the manufacturer's recommended altitude, whichever is higher. At altitudes lower than 3,000 feet (920 meters) AGL, engine failure shall be simulated by reducing throttle to idle and then establishing zero thrust."

    • A. Task: Emergency Descent
      • Expanded: "Recognizes situations, such as depressurization, cockpit smike and/or fire that require an emergency descent."
      • New: "Maintains positive load factors during the descent."

    • B. Task: Engine Failure after Lift-off (Simulated AMEL and AMES)
      • New addition (in italics) "Simulates feathering the propeller on the inoperative engine. Examiner shall then establish zero-thrust on the inoperative engine."
      • Airspeed parameter changed to +/-5 knots (was +/-10 knots).

    • C. Task: Approach and Landing with an Inoperative Engine (Simulated)
      • New addition (in italics) "Exhibits knowledge of the elements related to an approach and landing with an engine inoperative to include engine failure on final approach."
      • New text (in italics) "Recognizes engine failure and takes appropriate action (previous PTS detailed setting the engine controls and feathering the prop), maintains control, and utilizes recommended emergency procedures."
      • Revised text (in italics) "Touches down on the first one-third of available runway [previous PTS stated 'at or within 500 feet beyond a specified point'], with no drift."

    • E. Task: Systems and Equipment Malfunctions
      • Vacuum/pressure and pitot/static now specifically mentioned. (Previously was stated as "flight instruments malfunction").

    • F. Task: Emergency Equipment and Survival Gear
      • The following paragraph summarizes what was previously a detailed list: "Exhibits knowledge of the elements related to emergency equipment and survival gear appropriate to the airplane and environment encountered during flight. Identifies appropriate equipment that should be aboard the airplane."

  • Area of Operation XI: Multiengine Operations

    • This section now includes tasks that the previous PTS categorized under Emergency Operations.

    • New Note: "If the applicant is instrument rated, and has previously demonstrated instrument proficiency in a multiengine airplane or does not hold an instrument rating airplane, Tasks D and C need not be accomplished." [Task C is Engine Failure During Flight (by Reference to Instruments) and Task D is Instrument Approach—One Engine Inoperative (by Reference to Instruments)].

    • Task: Maneuvering with One Engine Inoperative
      • The demonstration of coordinated flight with one engine inoperative no longer specifies turns, climbs and descents.

    • B. Task: V MC Demonstration (Previously called "Engine Inoperative—Loss of Directional Control Demonstration")
      • New Note: "An applicant seeking a airplane-multiengine land (AMEL) rating, 'Limited to Center Thrust,' is not required to be evaluated on this Task."
      • The following general summary paragraph replaces 10 specific points of knowledge: "Exhibits knowledge of the elements related to V MC by explaining the causes of loss of directional controls at airspeeds less than V MC, the factors affecting V MC and the safe recovery procedures."

    • C. Task: Engine Failure During Flight (by Reference to Instruments)
      • The demonstration of coordinated flight no longer specifies turns, climbs and descents.
      • Bank parameters are +/-5 degrees (was +/-10 degrees).

    • D. Task: Instrument Approach—One Engine Inoperative
      • New heading parameter +/-10 degrees (newly added to altitude and airspeed)
      • New: "Avoids loss of aircraft control, or attempted flight contrary to the engine-inoperative operating limitations of the aircraft."

  • Area of Operation XII: Night Operation

    • There were two tasks in this area of operation: Night Preparation and Night Flight. Night Preparation remains as it was. Night Flight has been deleted. It was an oral evaluation as follows:
      • OLD PTS: "Note: The examiner shall orally evaluate element 1 and at least one of the elements, 2 through 6."
        • Exhibits knowledge of the elements related to night flight.
        • Inspects the interior and exterior of the airplane/seaplane with emphasis on those items essential for night flight.
        • Taxies and accomplishes the before takeoff check adhering to good operating practice for night conditions.
        • Performs takeoffs and climbs with emphasis on visual references.
        • Navigates and maintains orientation under VFR conditions.
        • Approaches, lands, and taxies, adhering to good operating practices for night conditions.
        • Completes all appropriate checklists.

  • Area of Operation XIII: Postflight Procedures

    • A. Task: After Landing, Parking, and Securing
      • The new PTS combines two tasks, After Landing and Parking and Securing into one task After Landing, Parking, and Securing to eliminate redundancy.
      • Adds "Maintains directional control after touchdown while decelerating to an appropriate speed."
      • Adds "Observes runway hold lines and other surface control markings and lighting."