FAA can end ACS logjam, groups say

The FAA can get back to its long-stalled effort to publish new airman certification standards now that the Department of Transportation has removed obstacles that froze the project in 2019, AOPA and other aviation industry members said in a letter to FAA Administrator Steve Dickson.

The Federal Aviation Administration is one of the many government agencies that have influence over general aviation. Photo by David Tulis.

The April 1 letter, which followed up the industry's broaching the subject with officials in February, urges the FAA to make the publication of ACS volumes—a key component of a yearslong effort to modernize the training and testing of pilots, mechanics, and other aviation personnel—an agency priority.

The industry’s position is that any perceived barriers to issuing new ACS volumes noted during a 2019 government review of agencies’ rulemaking procedures were removed on March 24 when Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg signed a final rule to end "internal policies and procedures relating to the issuance of rulemaking and guidance documents.”

While the freeze has been in place, the flight training industry and practical test applicants have endured uncertainty about what test standards might apply to some practical exams. Also, the release dates of numerous FAA handbooks that were being reworked to go hand-in-glove with the new ACS volume remained to be determined. 

The letter, which was signed by AOPA and 22 other aviation industry groups and individuals, notes that 12 new ACS volumes await rollout.

The FAA now has a clear path to “take the needed steps to fully implement this policy change by resuming ACS publication on a consistent and predictable timetable. This will serve to deepen the trust and collaboration between community and agency for a truly effective framework, and ultimately result in a safer National Airspace System,” it 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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