FSANA Asks Pilot Examiners for Help Clearing Test Backlog

The FAA has fewer than 1,000 DPEs nationwide.

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FSANA is asking DPEs to take on additional check rides if they have the time.Wayman Aviation

The Flight School Association of North America is worried about the backlog of applicants nationwide still waiting for their check rides to prove they meet the FAA standards for a given pilot certificate. FSNA said last week in a news release that, “This backlog is affecting the pilot production pipeline nationwide. Waits for practical test scheduling in many locations are more than a month, causing flight training providers to limit student intake and applicants to spend more to remain current and proficient as they await testing availability.”

“The FAA has approximately 950 DPEs who are able to provide practical tests. Most do this work as a part-time vocation, while also working as professional pilots or instructors,” according to FSANA. The part-time nature of DPE work has historically limited the number of tests an examiner can provide, working out to an annual average of 63 year. “Very few DPEs in the system average even one test every other day.”

The work that an FAA DPE does on behalf of the FAA, while compensated, is also a service to the industry. There’s a designated pilot examiner aviation rulemaking committee already at work creating fresh selection and oversight standards for DPEs, but the results of this long-term effort won’t be known until this fall.

The association and some designated pilot examiners need help now and are specifically asking other DPEs for help to clear the backlog by giving a few extra tests if they have any free time, especially during the months of April and May 2020. Appropriate testing standards will continue to be upheld.

FSANA also said flight training providers can help by ensuring the applicants they recommend are indeed ready, qualified, and proficient within the testing standards. Many DPEs encounter cancellations because of scheduled applicants who weren’t actually ready, didn’t meet all experience requirements or had other administrative challenges. If you are a flight training provider, check to make sure available testing blocks don’t go unused.

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