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Government shutdown had led to uncertainty in pilot certificationGovernment shutdown had led to uncertainty in pilot certification

FAA airman knowledge testing is operational again after some delays surrounding the ongoing federal government shutdown.

Photo by Mike Fizer.

Although it was clear from the outset of the shutdown that practical tests conducted with a designated examiner were being allowed to continue during the FAA’s lapse in funding, a lack of computer compatibility between the FAA and the knowledge test contractor temporarily halted this key portion of the certification process.

At issue was the FAA’s knowledge testing computer system, which wasn’t automatically accepting results from contractor PSI and transferring the data to IACRA, the pilot certification system. Pilots who had completed a knowledge test prior to the shutdown were able to take a practical test with a designee, but those who had not yet passed the test could not continue.

Although operational, the process will be cumbersome during the shutdown. Designees will most likely have to process pilot certificate applications manually. A pilot who passes a practical test will be able to fly on his or her temporary certificate. But because examiners will have to send that paperwork to the flight standards district office, where it will sit until the shutdown is over, many temporary certificates are likely to expire before a permanent plastic certificate is mailed to the pilot’s house.

“In 2013, the shutdown was approximately three weeks and a bunch of people had temporary airman certificates that expired and required renewals or extensions until the FAA caught up,” said Designated Pilot Examiner Jason Blair. “Looks like this one is longer and still going, so I have to think the delays will be worse.”

For questions on the current status of knowledge testing or practical test issues, contact AOPA at 800-872-2672.

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly is senior content producer for AOPA Media.
Topics: Advocacy, FAA Information and Services, Pilot Training and Certification

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