The fresh requirements for airplane private pilot certificates and instrument ratings replace the outdated practical test standards and incorporate techniques to make flying safer and training more relevant.
ASA Marketing Director Brian Snider, a rotorcraft pilot and instrument instructor, said the new airman certification standards publication simplifies training concepts because it pulls information from a variety of FAA sources into one place and then spells out specific tasks that must be mastered.
Among pilots and their instructors, Snider said there has been some fear about radical changes affecting flight training curriculum “but that’s unwarranted.”
Jackie Spanitz, ASA’s curriculum director, wrote in her flight training blog that industry experts noted “failures on the Fundamentals of Instructing (FOI) FAA Knowledge Exam which directly correlated to a test change we didn’t feel supported safety or reflected a meaningful and relevant exercise.” She said the aviation publisher worked with AOPA and the National Association of Flight Instructors to voice those concerns to the FAA.
Spanitz said the FAA was receptive to input from the flight training industry in seeking a resolution “not only to the immediate problem at hand, but to establish a process by which all airman testing would be meaningful and relevant” and ultimately contribute to increased flight safety.
The result of that collaboration is the foundation for the new airman certification standards, which are designed to help pilot applicants understand how knowledge, risk management, and skill elements work together during a checkride and then remain part of a pilot’s toolbelt.
For instructors, the tasks for safe flight are clearly spelled out in the new publication, which ASA says will “serve as a guide to teach and train an applicant on everything they need to know.” Designated pilot examiners conducting a checkride will also have a clear road map to assess an applicant's understanding, knowledge, risk management, and the performance of each task.
“The real difference between the old approach and new one is that the requirements will be set out clearly from the start so applicants can integrate that information into every aspect of their training and preparation,” said David Oord, AOPA senior director of government affairs and chair of the working group that helped revamp the training standards.
“I think there are going to be some adjustments for instructors,” Snider said, “but there’s already been testing of students using the new format and it works well. Hopefully the new standards will tie it all together and make it a better experience” for both instructors and their students.