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FAA orders full review of designated examiner system

The FAA has assigned a joint FAA-and-industry committee to study ways to improve the designated pilot examiner (DPE) system and report back with recommendations within a year.

Photo by Mike Fizer.

Reforming the designated pilot examiner system has been a top priority for AOPA’s advocacy efforts to end bottlenecks in the airman certification process. The review project, assigned by the FAA to its Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee, or ARAC, on June 19, “could go a long way to make much-needed, long lasting improvements,” said David Oord, AOPA senior director of regulatory affairs and ARAC vice-chair.

The study, essentially consisting of a review of all regulations and procedures related to DPEs, will be carried out by a Designated Pilot Examiner Reforms Working Group. The panel must make its recommendations no later than 12 months after its first meeting.

In August 2018, AOPA reported on a briefing the FAA gave the flight training industry on policies that could be overhauled to end delays applicants faced scheduling practical tests. Many of the delays were caused by constraints on DPEs such as geographic boundaries of their operating authority or a limit on the number of practical tests they can give to two in a day.  

In October 2018, the FAA, responding to Congressional action, issued a policy notice stating that DPEs were no longer limited to administering practical tests within designated geographical areas. The agency also gave DPEs expanded availability to work with applicants by abolishing the two-checkride-a-day limit and replacing it with a three-flight-test-a-day maximum “without additional approval.” The limit did not include retests.

The FAA’s new tasking also responds to Congressional action through a provision of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2019, which was enacted on Oct. 5, 2018.  The working group will “provide advice and recommendations to the ARAC on the most effective ways to identify areas of needed reform with respect to regulatory and policy changes necessary to ensure an adequate number of designated pilot examiners are deployed and available to perform their duties to meet the growing public need.” 

The FAA said it wants “a wide range of stakeholders” to act as technical experts with an interest in the assigned task of reviewing the DPE system.

AOPA encourages members to apply to participate by July 22 as described in this notice.

Cockpit barriers

An additional task the FAA assigned to the ARAC seeks recommendations for an order the FAA is under a mandate to issue by Oct. 5, “requiring the installation of a secondary cockpit barrier on each new aircraft that is manufactured for delivery to a passenger air carrier in the United States operating in 14 CFR 121.”

A notice of the new ARAC task solicited membership for a new Flightdeck Secondary Barrier Working Group which will be working on a fast track to issue its recommendations no later than Sept. 19.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

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 35-year AOPA member.
Topics: Advocacy, Pilot Regulation, Training and Safety

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