Designated pilot examiners have debated what was intended in the Private Pilot Airman Certification Standards regarding demonstrating use of an installed electronic navigation system and demonstrating use of installed navigation equipment function and displays, under the task of radio communications, navigation systems/facilities, and radar services.
The questions related to whether an applicant is required to provide an aircraft with an installed navigation system, such as GPS or VOR—or if a non-installed, but available system that was capable of being used for navigation such as a portable GPS, a handheld VOR receiver, or an electronic flight bag device would be allowed.
In a recent communication to FAA designated pilot examiners, which also has direct relevance to those providing the training for primary student pilots, the FAA clarified the current policy interpretation of the ACS document.
The FAA said "... that the ACS navigation tasks in question can be demonstrated thoroughly either by using an Electronic Flight Bag (EFB), a hand held nav-com transceiver, installed equipment or any combination of these items. It appears that there was a change from ‘airborne navigation system’ in the PTS to ‘installed navigation system’ in the ACS that may have been unintended. In the June 2017 revision to the Private Pilot ACS, we will change the language in PA.VI.B.S1 from ‘installed’ to ‘airborne.’ We will also amend the language in PA.VIII.F.K7 to change ‘installed’ to ‘available.’
Since the current phrasing was not intended, DPEs should act in accordance with the revised language as stated above for Tasks PA.VI.B.S1 and PA.VIII.F.K7."
The implication of this interpretation for training and testing appears to allow an applicant to demonstrate these tasks in an aircraft with a non-installed, but "available" device that could satisfy the tasks. This is an important clarification for students, instructors, and examiners. It will allow testing to be completed in aircraft that may not have a permanently installed navigation system.
Jason Blair is a National Association of Flight Instructors Master Flight Instructor and a designed pilot examiner.