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FAA clarifies practical test navigation equipmentFAA clarifies practical test navigation equipment

A change in wording contained in the new Private Pilot-Airplane Airman Certification Standards (ACS) appears to require using only “installed” systems to demonstrate some navigation skills on a practical test, but the “inadvertent” change was not intended to exclude the use of navigation systems that can be carried aboard, the FAA said.

The FAA has clarified the navigation skill element of the Private Pilot-Airplane Airman Certification Standards.

When the initial version of the ACS replaced the practical test standards (PTS) in June 2016, ACS Navigation skill element PA.VI.B.S1 required the applicant be able to “use an installed electronic navigation system.”

AOPA and the FAA received inquiries from applicants and the flight training industry expressing concern that they could no longer take a private pilot practical test in an airplane without an electrical system—as had been permitted under the PTS.

On Feb. 13, the FAA, which had already notified designated pilot examiners that portable navigation equipment was still permitted, issued an Information for Operators (InFO) publication explaining that the change had been unintended, and that navigation equipment installed in the airplane had not become a practical test requirement.

“This was determined to be an inadvertent change from the PTS, therefore this ACS element will be revised to ‘Use of an onboard electronic navigation system,’” according to the InFO.

A practical test knowledge element, PA.VIII.F.K7, “refers to installed navigation equipment and displays. The FAA has determined this ACS element should also be revised to broaden the navigation equipment and displays open to oral questioning. The reference to ‘installed’ will be removed from this knowledge element in the next revision of the ACS,” it notes.

The FAA estimates a June 2017 time frame for the next revision of the ACS. In the meantime, the InFO advises those involved in practical testing to continue using airplanes without electrical systems for practical tests, in accordance with pre-ACS practices. “Onboard electronic navigation systems would be used in this case,” it adds.

Knowledge testing of “appropriate electronic navigation systems such as VOR and GPS” should be conducted “without regard to installation of these systems in the airplane provided by the applicant,” the agency says in the InFo it issued to clarify matters.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Advocacy, Airman Regulation, FAA publications

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