The FAA has revised the flight instructor practical test standard to clarify when a complex aircraft is required for the checkride, and when it is not.
Changes published Jan. 15 (detailed on page 9 of this online copy of the PTS) clarify that a complex aircraft is not required when adding an airplane class rating to an existing certificate when the pilot has already been certified to operate complex aircraft. For example, a CFI seeking to add a single-engine airplane rating to an existing certificate with a multiengine rating need not perform the single-engine checkride in a complex aircraft.
Many flight schools, including industry leaders, had for decades conducted initial CFI checkrides in twin-engine aircraft, and the single-engine CFI add-on in a Cessna 172 or similar aircraft; students progressed through commercial ratings in similar fashion, demonstrating their complex aircraft operation competency in twin-engine aircraft, while testing for single-engine ratings in aircraft that are not complex (because they lack a constant speed propeller; land-based aircraft must also have retractable gear and flaps, and seaplanes must have a constant-speed propeller and flaps to be considered complex). AOPA staff learned recently that the FAA rejected a number of applications for the single-engine add-on because the checkride was not conducted in a complex aircraft.
AOPA staff worked with the flight training industry to bring the problem to the FAA’s attention and resolve the issue with a commonsense solution. Had the change not been made, many schools would have been forced to purchase complex, single-engine aircraft at significant cost—most of which are decades old, if available.