Best Practices Shared for Examiners, Check Rides

Examiners gathered in Nashville to discuss best practices and share ideas on how to take DPE services to a national level. Jason Blair

In what may surprise most in aviation as a first-time event, designated pilot examiners (DPEs) gathered this week in Nashville, Tennessee, for a symposium focused on sharing information, training, updates on FAA policy, and more hosted by the Flight School Association of North America (FSANA).

With more than 70 DPEs in attendance for the event, the providers of testing for pilot certification had the opportunity to share best practices and get updates from FAA representatives that affect how they provide their services.

“It really is groundbreaking to bring all these DPEs together,” said FSANA president and CEO Bob Rockmaker. “There is a significant amount of information that can be shared. With more integration of FAA staff, training providers, and with DPEs around the country, I am confident that our industry will continue to improve the testing quality and availability throughout the national airspace system.”

The event included seminars on numerous topics that help DPEs potentially improve the testing services they provide. Information about the following key items was discussed:

  • How flight schools can best source DPE services
  • How DPEs can best provide customer service and build their business model for efficiency and efficacy
  • Discussions of how DPEs build a plan of action for tests and work best with their customers

“Prior to FSANA establishing the DPE Symposium, we (DPEs) have never had an opportunity to gather outside of regular training sessions from the FAA as DPEs on a national level,” said Pete Reddan, an examiner attending the symposium. “The training the FAA offers DPEs is fantastic and needed every year.

“FSANA adding an additional opportunity to go beyond that to talk about how DPEs work with flight training providers and how DPEs operate as service providers, with the FAA present via VTC, will only improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the work we all do as we test those seeking pilot certification,” he said.

From left to right, Randy Rowles (HAI and a DPE), Petter Reddan (DPE) and Mary Schu (DPE). Jason Blair

Addressing Policy Change

Over the past couple of years, some policy changes have been made that allow DPEs to work with fewer geographic restrictions, and the training of DPEs has included more focus at the national level.

The work of DPEs is changing with our industry, and while they work within established training standards and guidance, modern technology is allowing those who provide these services to expand their range. These changes make it more important than ever to share information between DPEs, flight training providers, and the FAA at a more national level.

This symposium is a part of a continuing effort from FSANA to take a leadership role in representing the needs and interests of DPEs as a part of the flight training community.

Background on DPE Status

DPEs have long been service providers for testing of those seeking pilot certification in the U.S. as designees of the FAA. Their services are a critical component of the flow of pilot production for service in professional pilotage operations and for those who fly personally for business or pleasure.

Bringing these individuals together begins to expand the integration of DPEs beyond just local areas to more national-level information sharing.

The event kicked off with an open forum with representatives from the FAA DPE standardization and oversight branches, and then proceeded to include a forum discussion on how new DPEs are selected and what people who might like to be one need to know.

Continuing on through the event attendees and presenters discussed topics including the business models and integration of DPEs and working with flight training providers, updates from the FAA on numerous policy areas that affect test provision, and various tips and tricks for DPEs to be more efficient in the work they do with the aviation community.

Jason Blair is a flight instructor and an FAA designated pilot examiner, and an active author in the general aviation and flight training communities.

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