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Examiner-system reform panel goes to work

Now that the FAA has put short-term measures in place to cut down delays in scheduling airman practical tests, a working group has turned its attention to modernizing the designated pilot examiner system.

Photo by Mike Fizer.

The plan of action for the Designated Pilot Examiner Reforms Working Group calls for three subcommittees to address the DPE availability problem by proposing new methods of selection, training, and deployment of examiners.

That strategy for tackling the emerging problem of examiner supply falling short of practical-test demand emerged from the joint government/industry working group’s first meeting October 29 to 31 in Washington, D.C.

AOPA will chair the subcommittee investigating examiner deployment recommendations, said Christopher J. Cooper, AOPA director of regulatory affairs, who is representing AOPA members on the working group.

In recent years, growing demand for pilots in a surging aviation sector underlined shortcomings of the DPE system that resulted in bottlenecks in scheduling of practical tests—a costly dilemma made worse by examiners being forbidden by their managing office to travel outside designated geographic boundaries to help out elsewhere.

AOPA reported most recently in October on several steps the FAA has taken to loosen the restrictions. The FAA has also increased its hiring of DPEs, removed geographical limitations for examinations, and added additional structure to DPE training, Cooper said.

Also under the microscope for a short-term solution are ways to apply the FAA’s Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) program to airman testing, Cooper said. The ODA process is “the means by which the FAA grants designee authority to organizations or companies” and which the FAA oversees.

Another short-term solution is to further integrate the FAA’s DPE management system with the web-based Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) process for more efficient practical tests.

The subcommittee AOPA chairs will be working over the next few months to bring initial recommendations to the working group when it meets again in early 2020.

AOPA is asking members to provide feedback on how to improve the DPE system through a short survey that will be available for responses until November 22. As of November 5, the survey had received 1,902 responses, Cooper said.

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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