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FAA to change practical test standardsFAA to change practical test standards

In an unpublicized move, applicants for private pilot, commercial pilot, and flight instructor licenses will have to meet revised FAA standards to earn their licenses. The FAA will issue revised practical test standards (PTS) for private and commercial pilot licenses on August 1, and for flight instructors on August 2.

While the FAA has told AOPA that the revisions are mainly intended to improve guidance and lend clarity as well standardize PTS language across the three different tests, the association's Aviation Services department is conducting a thorough analysis of the changes. In addition, the FAA said that it has included new maneuvers and procedures to certain PTSs as well as expanded the oral portion on such items as airport operations and markings.

AOPA's preliminary review of the standards has revealed at least one positive change in that it appears the FAA will give more discretion to the examiner to test for certain maneuvers. But when AOPA asked for more specific details on what had changed, the FAA was unable to provide a comparison of the new and old standards.

"To help pilots understand the FAA revisions, we are reviewing the new standards and preparing a synopsis of the changes," said Woody Cahall, AOPA vice president of aviation services. "A side-by-side comparison will be available on AOPA Online next week." AOPA strongly advises flight instructors and applicants to thoroughly read the new PTS, paying extra attention to "Introduction" and "Notes" sections.

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