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FAA’s New Airman Certification Standards Now In Effect

The new standards were developed over a five year period with aviation industry experts, including limited prototype testing in Florida and Washington.
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The New Airman Certification Standards Were Developed With Input From Aviation Industry Experts

Student pilots and private pilots who are taking either the Private Pilot Airplane or Instrument Rating Airplane knowledge and practical tests will now be faced with something new. This past Wednesday, June 15th, the decades-old Practical Test Standards (PTS) were replaced by the FAA with the new Airman Certification Standards (ACS).

The new standards were developed over a five year period with aviation industry experts, including limited prototype testing in Florida and Washington. According to FAA officials, the ACS were designed to provide pilots, instructors, and evaluators with a focused set of “clear, logical standards that tell them what they need to know, consider and do to qualify and pass both the knowledge and practical tests for airman certification and ratings.

Like the PTS, the ACS is made up of Tasks within Area of Operation, such as preflight, specific maneuvers, and emergency procedures. With each task, the ACS also break it down into knowledge, skill and risk elements with codes added to each element to help guide pilots, instructors, and evaluators. These codes will be incorporated into knowledge test reports, which in the case of a Notice of Disapproval gives examiners the ability to identify the areas where the pilot or candidate needs re-testing and additional training.

The new test standards will also be placing a stronger emphasis on scenarios and evaluating a pilot’s ability to make decisions and manage risks in the cockpit, as opposed to memorizing lists of procedures and other items simply to pass the test. As part of their work with the industry experts, the FAA also sought to modernize the testing standards by including equipment used in modern cockpits, such as GPS, and removing testing requirements that pertain to antiquated equipment such as NDB.

For those interested in more details, the FAA has established a page with the new Airman Certification Standards.  In addition, the FAA scheduled a webinar for June 25th to explain the new standards. However, that webinar filled up, and due to overwhelming demand, they have scheduled four additional webinars. For those interested, here are the dates, and links where you can register:

The webinars are scheduled to be 90 minutes long.

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