8900.1 CHG 619



Section 1  General Information

5-1    APPLICABILITY. This volume contains direction, guidance, and procedures for certification of airmen. Applicable regulations include Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 61, 63, 65, 67, 91 subpart K (91K), 121, 125, 133, 135, 137, 141, or 142.

5-2    INDIVIDUALS AUTHORIZED TO CONDUCT CERTIFICATION. The airman certification process described in this volume may be conducted by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector or, when authorized, by a Designated Examiner (DE). The guidance of this volume applies to both inspectors and DEs. Airman examiners are designated in accordance with the provisions of 14 CFR part 183 to help meet the certification workloads that exceed the capacity of the inspector workforce. All examiners performing certification of Flight Engineers (FE) and navigators under part 63, aircraft dispatchers under part 65, or pilots and FEs who are graduates of a part 121 or 135 training program must be designated and their activities administered in accordance with this order.

A.    Aircrew Program Designees (APD). DEs, employed by certain large part 135 and 121 air carriers/operators, who perform certification duties entirely within a special program known as an Aircrew Designated Examiner (ADE) Program, are referred to as APDs. Direction and guidance for designation of APDs and the administration of an ADE program is in Volume 13, Chapters 1 and 2.

B.    Training Center Evaluators (TCE). DEs, employed by part 142 training centers, who perform certification tests and other checks in accordance with FAA-approved part 142 training programs. In certain cases, a TCE may also serve as a contract check pilot/check FE for an air carrier/operator operating under part 121 or 135 when satisfying the applicable qualification and training requirements of the respective part. See Volume 3, Chapter 54 and Volume 3, Chapter 20 for specific information on TCEs and contract check pilots/check FEs.

C.    Designated Pilot Examiners (DPE). DEs who do not perform certification duties entirely within one of the special programs described in Volume 13, Chapter 1 or 2 are referred to as independent DPEs. Direction and guidance for designation and administration of DPEs is found in Volume 13, Chapter 6.

5-3    INSPECTOR AND EXAMINER QUALIFICATIONS. When a phase of certification is conducted by an examiner, that examiner must be qualified and current in the aircraft in accordance with part 121 or 135 and appropriate company manuals, procedures, and checklists. When a phase is conducted by an inspector, that inspector must be qualified in accordance with Volume 1, Chapter 3, Section 6.

5-4    JOB AIDS. Due to the complexity of the certification process, job aids have been created for an inspector or examiner to use. Job aids are intended for quick reference and help keep track of events during the certification process. Since job aids are not official forms, they should not be attached to certification packages. They may either be retained or disposed of after use. Job aids do not replace the direction and guidance provided in 14 CFR, advisory circulars (AC), or this order. Job aids are available within this order and may be printed and photocopied as needed. Inspectors should ensure examiners are supplied with appropriate job aids. User comments or suggestions on job aids pertaining to part 121, 135, or 142 (including FE or Aircraft Dispatcher) should be sent to the Air Transportation Division (AFS-200), and job aids pertaining to part 61 or 141 to the General Aviation and Commercial Division (AFS-800).

5-5    SURVEILLANCE DURING CERTIFICATION. Surveillance is an ongoing inspector responsibility which is not limited to formal inspections. While engaged in airman certification, an inspector has recurring opportunities to evaluate personnel, manuals, procedures, training programs, training records, checklists, and aircraft. When personnel performance fails to meet standards, or when other types of deficiencies are observed, inspectors must report those deficiencies and recommend corrective action to the principal operations inspector (POI). Inspectors are encouraged to correct deficiencies “on the spot” with the operator’s working level personnel as practical. Regardless of whether the discrepancy can be corrected “on the spot” or not, the deficiency must be reported by the inspector on a Program Tracking and Reporting Subsystem (PTRS) form or Safety Assurance System (SAS) Custom Data Collection Tool (C DCT). Reports of corrected discrepancies are as important as uncorrected ones for building accurate databases for trend detection and analysis. Discrepancies, including potential violations, may be corrected and closed out on site when mutually agreed to by the inspector and the POI. Inspectors, POIs, and managers are expected to act with discretion; however, discrepancies must be corrected.

5-6    INSPECTOR PREPARATION FOR CERTIFICATION TESTS CONDUCTED UNDER PARTS 121 AND 135. Inspectors must prepare themselves before conducting certification tests by becoming thoroughly familiar with the operator’s aircraft operating manual and operations specifications (OpSpecs). Inspectors and examiners must coordinate with the POI or representative on acceptable methods for the conduct of certification activities for a specific operator. POIs are responsible for developing methods and procedures for briefing inspectors before they conduct certification. This must include providing inspectors access to appropriate manuals and providing briefings on approved operating minimums and any additional requirements.


A.    Single Applicant. Only one applicant for an Airman Certificate or rating shall be administered a practical test at a time.

B.    Observers. An inspector monitoring a certification test must be allowed to observe its conduct. Other observers may monitor a test only when their presence has been coordinated with and agreed to by both the applicant and the inspector or examiner conducting the test. In no case will another applicant be allowed to monitor a practical test as an observer.

C.    Crew Concept. The FAA promotes the “crew concept” in training and certification to ensure crew coordination and flight management are adequately addressed. Inspectors and examiners must evaluate the effectiveness of the applicant’s interaction with other crewmembers. To facilitate this requirement, all crew positions required by the FAA Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) or Rotorcraft Flight Manual (RFM) must be occupied by qualified personnel (instructors or flightcrew members).

1)    When a practical test is conducted in an aircraft, supporting crewmembers must possess appropriate certificates and be current under 14 CFR. When a practical test segment is conducted in a flight simulation training device (FSTD), a supporting crewmember must be qualified to perform the duties of the crew position to a degree of proficiency equivalent to a qualified line crewmember, but does not need to hold a certificate or be current. For example, a simulator instructor may not be able to qualify for a certificate due to a medical deficiency. The operator may qualify such individuals as simulator instructors by training and conducting proficiency tests equivalent to those required for certification. Such individuals are qualified to act as supporting crewmembers during a certification test in an FSTD. It is preferred and recommended that the supporting crewmember not be an applicant for a certificate or rating.
2)    When practical tests are conducted in an FSTD with a separate instructor’s station, inspectors and examiners must not occupy crew positions while the practical test is in progress. Except as provided in subparagraph 5-7D, inspectors and examiners must not occupy crew positions when conducting a practical test in an aircraft. This direction and guidance allows inspectors to effectively act as evaluators rather than as participants.

D.    Inspector, Examiner, and Safety Pilot Duty Positions. A qualified and current pilot must occupy a pilot seat and act as safety pilot on all practical tests conducted in an aircraft. The preferred procedure is for the operator to provide a qualified instructor pilot or check pilot to act as the safety pilot and pilot in command (PIC) (see Volume 1, Chapter 3, Section 6). On aircraft equipped with a suitable forward observer’s seat, inspectors will usually occupy the observer’s seat so that they can evaluate the crew’s interaction. However, when necessary a qualified and current inspector may act as a safety pilot and occupy a pilot’s position on pilot practical tests. This provision will normally be limited to aircraft in which it is not possible for the inspector to evaluate from an observer’s seat. On other occasions, an inspector may be the only qualified individual to act as the safety pilot. This may be appropriate when an operator is introducing a new aircraft type or when the aircraft is a type not typically used in part 121 or 135 operations. In such circumstances, an inspector may act as safety pilot and occupy a pilot position during the practical test. When an examiner conducts a pilot practical test in an aircraft, the examiner will usually act as the safety pilot. Certificate holders should submit an initial cadre plan to the FAA identifying training and qualification plans and FAA resources needed to establish the program. Additional information is available in Volume 3, Chapter 20, Sections 2 and 6.

5-8    AIRCRAFT OPERATING MANUALS. Title 14 CFR frequently references the FAA AFM or RFM in matters pertaining to the certification of flightcrew members. Many operators use the AFM or RFM as an operating manual. Most part 121 air carriers and many part 135 air carriers/operators, however, extract the information from the approved sections of the AFM or RFM and place it in a company aircraft operating manual. Air carriers/operators may modify AFM or RFM procedures with the approval of the POI. Under these circumstances, air carriers/operators do not normally provide their crewmembers access to the AFM or RFM. Inspectors and examiners must use the company-prepared aircraft operating manual and aircraft checklists instead of the AFM or RFM for airman certification purposes. Inspectors should be alert to deficiencies in the air carrier/operator’s manuals and procedures, and for any conflicts between company manuals and the AFM or RFM. When conflicts or deficiencies are observed, they should be reported to the POI.

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A.    Verification of Experience and Qualification. Inspectors and examiners are obligated to ensure that pilot applicants meet the experience requirements as specified in parts 61 and 141 for pilot certificates and ratings before administering an airman certification test. This will include examination of applicant’s pilot time records documenting the experience requirements, and any other pertinent documents needed to verify that an individual qualifies for an examination leading to a certificate or rating. These documents can include a valid medical certificate, prerequisite certificates or ratings, knowledge test results, endorsements, and any other records necessary to verify experience and qualification requirements prescribed in the regulations.

B.    Technically Advanced Airplane (TAA) Designation. The FAA permits initial commercial pilot single-engine applicants to complete some experience requirements in a TAA as defined in part 61, § 61.129(j). Manufacturers, owners, or operators can apply to the Administrator for designation of their airplane as a TAA, if the Administrator determines that the airplane is equipped with new technology that otherwise meets the intent of a TAA definition and designation. The content and form for these inquiries are in the appendices of AC 61-65, Certification: Pilots and Flight and Ground Instructors. Letters seeking TAA designation must be provided to AFS-800 for consideration.


A.    Test Sequence. For all flightcrew members, the phases of the certification process must be completed in the following sequence:

1)    Knowledge test.
2)    Oral test.
3)    Flight test.

B.    Multiple Segment Flight Tests. When a combination of an FSTD and aircraft is used for the flight segment of a practical test, the FSTD segment should be completed before the aircraft segment.

C.    Time Limits. The flight test phase must be completed within 2 calendar-months (§ 61.39(f)) of the oral part of the test. All increments of the practical test for a certificate or rating must be completed within 2 calendar-months after the month the applicant began the test, otherwise the applicant must retake the entire practical test (§ 61.39(g)).

Indicates new/changed information.

RESERVED. Paragraphs 5-11 through 5-25.