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Progress continues on new airman certification standardsProgress continues on new airman certification standards

The working group that recommends improvements to pilot training and airman testing is moving forward on multiple fronts and is set to introduce several new draft airman certification standards (ACS) and accompanying revisions to training and guidance publications.

Photo by Mike Fizer

At its recent quarterly meeting, the Airman Certification System working group of the FAA’s Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee set plans to publish a draft ACS for the Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate for public review and comment. The publication of the draft is expected before the end of the year, with a final version posted in spring 2019, effective next summer, said David Oord, AOPA senior director of regulatory affairs, who chairs the working group.

The working group, a joint government/industry effort, was established in February 2014 to take on the task of replacing the practical test standards with integrated, holistic ACS that are more relevant and meaningful to how pilots train and fly today. The first resulting publication, the Private Pilot—Airplane Airman Certification Standards was introduced in 2016, followed by ACS publications for commercial pilots, the instrument rating, and remote pilots of small unmanned aircraft systems. New ACS publications in the pipeline for FAA review include the commercial pilot military competence (scheduled to take effect in October), aviation maintenance technician, and flight instructor.

The rulemaking committee approved the working group's recommendations affecting the new handbook for aviation maintenance technicians with a powerplant rating, and for aligning regulations on maintenance technician training to the ACS, Oord said.

An Aug. 8 interim report to the executive committee members included draft ACS documents for private pilot—rotorcraft, instrument rating—powered lift, and recommendations for updates to the Aviation Instructor Handbook and Helicopter Flying Handbook.

As ACS development continues, the working group has added new members with expertise in glider, sport pilot, rotorcraft, powered-lift, balloon, and mechanic subject areas.

At the quarterly meeting, the working group was briefed on the new airman certificate testing service contract awarded to testing organization PSI, to be deployed in four phases with the goal of improving overall test development and delivery, and analytics. A key innovation planned is including ACS codes that have been assigned to each test question in test reports, helping applicants and their instructors address the need for additional training, and help designated pilot examiners ensure that the necessary training has taken place.

The working group is set to meet throughout 2019 and has established a timetable for completing its pending tasks by December 2019, with final recommendations to be issued to the rulemaking committee by June 2020.

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 a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Advocacy, Airman Regulation, Training and Safety

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