May 15, 2013
By Alyssa J. Miller
Questions about loran, microwave landing systems, and direction finding would be more fitting for Barry Schiff’s popular “Test Pilot” trivia column in AOPA Pilot than on FAA knowledge exams.
But students and pilots taking FAA knowledge exams are expected to know about and are tested on these outdated systems. Loran was turned off in 2010, few microwave landing systems ever became operational, and direction finding services are available only on a limited basis and only in Alaska.
That’s why AOPA Manager of Regulatory Affairs David Oord and Jason Blair, former executive director of the National Association of Flight Instructors—both of whom serve as co-chairs on the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Group’s Airman Testing Standards and Training Working Group—have requested that the FAA remove knowledge test questions about obsolete terms and technologies. The questions were provided from members of the working group.
Other subjects that they asked be removed are the inertial navigation system, transcribed weather broadcasts, on-airport flight service stations, composite moisture stability charts, incorrect terms in winds aloft forecasts, and instrument approach plates with outdated and obsolete components.
“The working group further recommends that once these terms and associated questions are no longer issued on the FAA Knowledge Exams, the FAA issue a formal notice so training providers can remove the terms/technologies from the training process,” they wrote.
This move is part of the working group’s effort to fundamentally change flight training and testing to integrate aeronautical knowledge and risk management topics with specific skills. The draft airman certification standards for the private pilot certificate and instrument rating are currently out for review and comment. AOPA believes the FAA’s piecemeal adoption of changes to testing and training has hampered efforts to keep flight training relevant to operations in the modern environment.
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