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FAA developing examiner system fixes, extends some deadlines

The working group studying the long-term structure of the FAA’s designated pilot examiner system plans to meet in June to hear the recommendations three subcommittees are preparing to help make pilot practical testing more efficient and delay-free.

Photo by Mike Fizer.

The FAA also issued a memo extending recurrent-training due dates for designees and Flight Standards Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) unit members who are unable to attend in-person recurrent training courses. The deviations “are to ensure compliance with U.S. Government and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines taken to limit the spread of Coronavirus,” according to the March 24 memo.

AOPA Director of Regulatory Affairs Christopher Cooper represents AOPA members on the Designated Pilot Examiner Reforms Working Group, which met remotely on March 19, deferring a two-day in-person session because of the coronavirus pandemic. Working group members include examiners and representatives of aviation-industry organizations, airlines, and flight schools.

Three subcommittees are reviewing the examiner system’s selection, training, and deployment processes and are moving forward toward presenting their reform recommendations, Cooper said, noting that the working group’s next meeting is tentatively scheduled for late June.

The subpanels are studying respectively a “more holistic” approach to determining examiner-applicant qualifications, a more integrated, scenario-based training regimen, and ways to harness FAA systems and other technologies to identify “where the demand for examiners and their availability are the greatest,” Cooper said.

Pandemic response

In the short term as the coronavirus pandemic unfolds, the FAA issued guidelines to flight standards offices and designees on how to manage oversight and recurrent-training requirements in cases when the usual time allowances for compliance expire.

In broad terms, the guidelines state that if activities concerned with overseeing a designee are overdue or cannot be completed on time, “the designee should not be automatically prevented from performing additional delegated activities,” based on a risk-assessment analysis.

The memo authorized FAA personnel to extend the due dates for required training of designees to December 31, noting that “additional policy deviations and guidance unique to specific individual designee types and ODA holders may be necessary in some cases and will be issued separately.”

However, “if the designee’s overall performance is not satisfactory, the Flight Standards office will notify the designee in writing to cease delegated activities until the oversight activity is completed.” Oversight personnel must document the risk analysis process they use when making the decisions.

There are approximately 950 designated pilot examiners in the FAA system, up from about 780 in 2018, 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, COVID19, Pilot Regulation

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