Pilots who stay informed on training, testing, and certification requirements have had an enormous amount of new and revised official material to keep track of in recent times.
From new airman certification standards coming on line to student pilot certificates that no longer expire, from a path to remote pilot certification for drone operators to revised procedures for obtaining a medical certificate, and—for many—the possibility of flying without a medical certificate under the soon-to-be-operational BasicMed program, staying on top of it all brings to mind the analogy of drinking from a fire hose.
AOPA reports regularly to members on the timetable, content, and implications of all these changes. But how does a pilot find out when official information has been updated to reflect what’s new, what’s old, and what’s gone on a specific topic of interest?
It’s well worth your time to bookmark or subscribe to the Airman Testing page on the FAA website. Near the bottom of the page, under the heading “What’s New and Upcoming in Airman Testing,” you can expect to find much of the information you need to be up to date on the current state of flight and knowledge testing source material.
The page’s February update reviews the FAA’s implementation in June 2016 of the new airman certification standards (ACS) for private pilot airplane and instrument rating airplane, and the cancellation of the practical test standards documents for each on that date, presenting much of the new material against a shaded background.
The update notes that the FAA implemented the ACS for the remote pilot certificate on Aug. 29, 2016.
The first revisions to the ACS for the private pilot airplane and instrument rating airplane are planned for publication on June 15.
The update also reports that the FAA plans to publish the initial ACS for the commercial pilot airplane certificate at that time.
As you would expect, the issuance of the new ACS publications has prompted a significant overhaul of knowledge testing.
According to the update, “All active knowledge test questions for the Private Pilot Airplane (PAR) and Instrument-Airplane Rating (IRA) knowledge tests have been aligned with the corresponding ACS.”
The same alignment of knowledge test questions and certification standards will be in place for the Commercial Pilot Airplane knowledge test by the June 15 implementation date of that ACS.
This policy of alignment is worth understanding as you study for a certificate or rating now covered by an ACS publication. “As this level of review continues and moves to additional knowledge test banks, it is increasingly unlikely that applicants will see an exact match between sample questions and actual test questions,” the update advises.
It makes sense that the textbooks and handbooks that form the backbone of pilot ground study also would undergo revision—and so they are, with recommendations from the aviation community members of the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee’s Airman Certification Standards Working Group, chaired by AOPA.
The working group continues to develop and finalize ACS for airline transport pilot (airplane), instructor (airplane), and aircraft mechanic certificate with airframe and/or powerplant ratings. Drafts of those new standards will be published on the FAA’s website for review and comment prior to implementation.