The FAA has expressed optimism that draft airman certifications standards (ACS) now entering a multi-phase test process will improve the training and testing of future pilots, and could "decrease training time and costs by focusing more closely on what an applicant really needs to know."
The agency outlined its position in the article "Meet the ACS: Moving toward the Airman Certification Standards," published in its FAA Safety Briefing for September/October 2014. The article details the process by which an AOPA-led working group developed the draft standards that more closely align training and reference materials with knowledge and practical test subjects and tasks. Public comments were taken on draft standards through Aug. 25.
The end product of the working group’s efforts will be the production of the "foundational" certification standards documents for the private, commercial, airline transport pilot, and instructor certificates, and for the instrument rating, it said. And in an important step, the FAA reported that a pioneering prototype for a summer private pilot certification course was launched in Florida.
The FAA said it would continue working with industry to refine the airmen certification standards process, and predicted introducing it more broadly "at the appropriate time."
A second article in the September/October edition, titled "Checklist: Keeping Current," urges pilots to stay abreast of changes in the training environment by receiving updates from the FAA Airman Testing Standards Branch (AFS-630).
The branch is a participant in "the ongoing Airman Certification Standards (ACS) development work led by an AOPA-chaired aviation industry group that includes associations, universities, training providers, and professional associations," with the goal "to integrate knowledge and risk management for each skill task in the existing FAA Practical Test Standards (PTS) into a single Airman Certification Standards (ACS) document."
Completion of the development work should help eliminate the "disconnects familiar to anyone who has ever taken an FAA knowledge test," it said.