8900.1 CHG 546



Section 1  Inspect a Designated Pilot Examiner

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13-515    PROGRAM TRACKING AND REPORTING SUBSYSTEM (PTRS) ACTIVITY CODES. Operations: 1563, 1660, 1664, 1665, 1666, 1699.

13-516    OBJECTIVE. This section provides guidance to Flight Standards District Offices (FSDO) and International Field Offices (IFO) (collectively referred to as field offices) and other Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) offices about conducting surveillance of Designated Pilot Examiners (DPE).

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A.    Prerequisites. This task requires knowledge of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) parts 61 and 183 regulations and FAA policies. The task also requires qualification as an aviation safety inspector (ASI) (Operations or Airworthiness), as applicable.

NOTE:  During the practical test, if the ASI occupies a crewmember station, then the ASI must be current in the aircraft per Volume 1, Chapter 3, Section 6.

B.    Training. Specific courses required for designee oversight are listed in “Inspector Training for Designee Oversight” matrix. The training matrix is maintained on the Flight Standards Training Division (AFS‑500) Knowledge Services Network (KSN) site. To access it, click the link on the AFS-500 MyFAA home page under “Other Links.” The training matrix is organized by designee type, and promotes the Flight Standards Service (AFS) philosophy that the most appropriate person (or target audience) should attend the right training at the right time. The regional/local training coordinators can also provide access to the training matrix and assistance on training needs assessment for ASIs assigned to designee management.

C.    Coordination. This task may require coordination with the airworthiness unit and with AFS-760.

13-518    GENERAL. Inspectors will accomplish the surveillance of designees in accordance with FAA Order 1800.56, National Flight Standards Work Program Guidelines.

A.    Definitions (as used in this chapter).

1)    Applicant. A person being tested for a certificate or rating.
2)    Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE).
a)    For the purposes of this chapter, “DPE” refers only to:

    Private Pilot Examiners (PE),

    Commercial and Instrument Rating Examiners (CIRE),

    Commercial Pilot Examiners (CE),

    Airline Transport Pilot Examiners (ATPE),

    Flight Instructor Examiners (FIE),

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    Specialty Aircraft Examiners (SAE),

    Sport Pilot Examiners (SPE),

    Sport Pilot Flight Instructor Examiners (SFIE), and

    Pilot Proficiency Examiners (PPE).

b)    It also includes pilot examiners with administrative privileges only, including:

    Flight Instructor Renewal Examiners (FIRE),

    Airman Certification Representatives (ACR),

    Military Competency Examiners (MCE),

    Foreign Pilot Examiners (FPE),

    Ground Instructor Examiners (GIE), and

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    Remote Pilot Examiners (RPE).

3)    High-Activity DPE. An examiner who conducts 50 or more practical tests during a given quarter.
4)    Surveillance. A function used to evaluate a pilot examiner’s ability to conduct airman certification activities as authorized.
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B.    Practical Test Standards (PTS)/Airman Certification Standards (ACS). DPEs will conduct and score all oral and practical tests in accordance with the applicable standards document. At the time of this writing, the FAA is transitioning from the PTS to ACS. DPEs must use the most current document for the test being administered. (See Volume 5, Chapter 2, Section 1.)

C.    Operations Focal Points. Assigned operations focal points are available within each region and field office to assist inspectors with questions regarding training, oversight, and other questions regarding the surveillance of DPEs. (See Volume 13, Chapter 5, Section 4.)

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13-519    INSPECTION.

A.    Annual Inspections. All ASIs are responsible for ensuring that their assigned examiners have undergone inspection at least once every 12 calendar-months. National and regional guidelines may require more frequent inspections.

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B.    High-Activity DPE. In addition to the annual inspection, high-activity examiners will undergo evaluation at least one additional time during the year. This additional inspection requires that an inspector observe the examiner administering at least one additional complete practical test.

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C.    Other Inspections. In addition to the inspections and surveillances described in subparagraphs 13‑519A and B, an ASI must consider additional inspections and surveillance of examiners under the following circumstances.

    An examiner whose practical test passing rate exceeds 90 percent;

    An examiner who conducts more than two practical tests on a given day (or more than one initial flight instructor practical test);

    An examiner who tests a student trained by that examiner without approval from the supervising field office or FAA office;

    An examiner whose certification file error rate exceeds 10 percent;

    An examiner who is the subject of a valid public complaint; or

    An examiner who has been involved in an accident, incident, or a 14 CFR violation.

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NOTE:  ASIs, in consultation with their office management, may use their discretion and judgment in the kind and frequency of monitoring and inspections of their individual examiners. For example, an ASI should consider the difference between a passing rate exceeding 90 percent for a DPE who has conducted very few practical tests, and a passing rate exceeding 90 percent for a high-activity DPE. Similarly, if a DPE’s error rate is above 10 percent, the ASI should consider whether the DPE has conducted very few practical tests or is considered high-activity. Also, in a case where a DPE may have an excellent record for serving the public, and one applicant files a complaint, the ASI may want to discuss the complaint with the DPE, but the depth and detail of the monitoring, inspection, and surveillance may not have to be significant. Again, ASIs are expected to use their discretion and judgment and to be professional.

13-520    OVERSIGHT.

A.    Surveillance. Surveillance should include at least one visit every year to an examiner’s base of operations. The inspector may observe a pilot examiner conducting a complete test any time the examiner’s performance indicates that such an observation is necessary.

B.    Inspections. The inspector must observe a DPE conducting a complete practical test of an applicant at least once every 12 calendar-months. The objectives of the inspection may include:

    Personal observation of the DPE conducting a practical test;

    The conduct of the annual DPE practical test evaluation;

    Confirmation that the DPE has appropriate FAA references available;

    Evaluation of the adequacy of facilities;

    Verification of maintenance of minimum qualifications;

    Verification of documentation;

    Analysis of pass/fail rates;

    Verification of access to the Integrated Airmen Certification and/or Rating Application (IACRA) for processing;

    Identification of risks or hazards;

    Special emphasis areas, as identified by the managing office, the regional Flight Standards division (RFSD), or FAA Headquarters (HQ); and

    Other areas, which the managing specialist may determine.

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C.    Method of Inspection. The inspector must observe a DPE conducting a complete practical test of an applicant. This includes observation of the complete ground portion and the complete flight portion of the test. Unless the observation is being conducted from a required crewmember station, any qualified Operations ASI can conduct the complete evaluation (both ground and flight). For the purposes of this section, “qualified” means that the ASI holds at least a Commercial Pilot Certificate (and the appropriate type rating in the case of an aircraft which requires a type rating) in the same aircraft category and class as the aircraft in which the test is being administered. It is not necessary for the ASI to be current in the aircraft, nor to be a participant in the Flight Standards Service (AFS) Flight Program. For ASIs conducting evaluations for DPEs who conduct the majority of their tests in two-place aircraft, and the ASI is acting as the applicant for the flight portion of the evaluation, the ASI must be current in the aircraft per Volume 1, Chapter 3, Section 6.

D.    Recordkeeping. Retain reports of all examiner surveillance in the examiner’s designee file maintained in the jurisdictional FAA office. This may be in electronic form, such as the PTRS.

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E.    Additional Information. For detailed information on the designation and renewal of General Aviation (GA) pilot examiners, see Volume 13, Chapter 5, Section 1.


A.    References (current editions):

    Title 14 CFR Parts 1, 61, 91, and 183.

    FAA Order 4040.9, FAA Aircraft Management Program.

    FAA Order 8900.2, General Aviation Airman Designee Handbook.

    All appropriate PTS/ACS.

    PTRS Procedures Manual (PPM).

B.    Forms. FAA Form 8000-36, Program Tracking and Reporting System Data Sheet.

C.    Job Aids. None.

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13-522    PROCEDURES.

A.    Pre-Inspection Activity.

1)    The inspector reviews the examiner’s designee file in accordance with Volume 13, Chapter 5, Section 2.
2)    Conduct interviews of recently certificated pilots. These interviews are to ensure that the examiner is properly following the PTS/ACS when the FAA is not in attendance. Questions should relate to the length of the test, the fairness of the test, and whether the PTS/ACS was followed. Basic inspector interviewing techniques should be used. Put the interviewee at ease, and assure him or her that the questions are to evaluate the testing procedure and are not a reexamination of their certificates. Conduct a sufficient number of interviews (at least five randomly selected airmen or 50 percent of the airmen newly certificated by the designee over the past 12 months, whichever is fewer) to provide confidence that the designee is properly conducting the test. Record these interviews in the PTRS using activity code 1699.
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B.    Method of Inspection. The inspector must observe a DPE conducting a complete practical test of an applicant.

1)    First-Time Practical Testing Evaluation.
a)    After issuing the initial designation, an inspector will observe the first airman certification testing conducted by the DPE. The purpose is to ensure that testing complies with the applicable PTS/ACS and with all appropriate FAA regulations, policies, and orders, as well as to provide support for the designee.
b)    In the event that the DPE and ASI differ as to the outcome of the test as a pass or failure, they should discuss this matter privately, without participation from the applicant, to seek resolution. In this instance, the judgment of the FAA will prevail.
c)    The ASI will record the results of the observation in the PTRS, using activity code 1664, 1665, or 1666, as appropriate.
2)    Annual Practical Testing Evaluation.
a)    ASIs must determine that the DPEs continue to demonstrate that they possess the knowledge and skill to properly administer a practical test. This determination is made through the satisfactory completion of a practical test evaluation appropriate to the designation and authorizations held. A practical testing evaluation is the observation of a complete practical test. Such practical testing evaluations are required at least once each 12 calendar-months after initial designation.
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b)    An ASI who is qualified in the category, class, and type of aircraft authorized on the designee’s Certificate of Authority (COA) letter, and who may or may not be the principal operations inspector (POI), must conduct the required annual practical testing evaluation, provided that the ASI does not serve as a required crewmember. If the ASI occupies a crewmember station, then the ASI must also be current in the aircraft per Volume 1, Chapter 3, Section 6.
c)    In the event that the DPE’s POI is not qualified in the appropriate aircraft, the managing office will recruit a suitable FAA inspector resource to perform the practical testing evaluation and to report the results of the evaluation to the POI for recording in the designee file.
d)    The purpose of evaluating a DPE’s conduct of the practical test is to ensure that the DPE follows testing procedures. In certain instances, it may be necessary to allow the DPE to continue the test to the flight portion, even though, in the inspector’s opinion, the applicant failed the test during the ground phase. In the event that the DPE and ASI differ as to the outcome of the test as a pass or failure, they should discuss this matter privately, without participation from the applicant, to seek resolution. In this instance, the judgment of the FAA will prevail.
3)    Administrative DPE. The POI will inspect the designee prior to initial authorization to ensure that he or she adheres to FAA policies and procedures, and that facilities (if applicable) are adequate for the conduct of FAA business. The FAA will conduct subsequent inspections at least once each 12 calendar-months thereafter.
4)    DPE Special Emphasis Inspections. Certain DPE performance factors prompt at least one additional required observation other than that which is required each 12 calendar-months. These issues may be indicative of underlying safety risks that require timely FAA attention.

C.    PTRS. The inspector opens a PTRS record.

D.    During the Inspection. The inspector verifies the examiner’s identity and examines the examiner’s Airman Certificates, medical certificate, and COA letter.

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13-523    TESTING PROCEDURES. The inspector conducts the inspection of the examiner according to the methods outlined in subparagraph 13-522B. The inspector must conduct a preflight briefing in accordance with Volume 5, Chapter 1, Section 4, paragraph 5-77.

A.    Observe a Complete Practical Test.

1)    Before beginning the practical testing evaluation, the inspector informs the applicant that he or she will be observing the examiner’s performance and that, unless circumstances warrant otherwise, the examiner will issue FAA Form 8060-4, Temporary Airman Certificate, a letter of discontinuance, or FAA Form 8060-5, Notice of Disapproval of Application.
2)    The inspector conducting the practical testing evaluation, or an Airworthiness inspector, should review the aircraft maintenance records, aircraft logbooks, airworthiness certificate, and aircraft registration to determine if the aircraft is Airworthy and suitable for the practical test. After review, the inspector returns the documents to the applicant.
3)    The inspector should ensure that the examiner determines that the applicant meets all pertinent requirements.
4)    During the oral portion of the practical testing evaluation, the inspector:
a)    Determines whether the examiner asks appropriate questions to test all required PTS/ACS tasks for the certificate or rating.
b)    Determines whether the examiner can recognize incorrect answers and takes appropriate action (i.e., termination of the practical test and issuance of a notice of disapproval).
c)    Determines whether the examiner asks questions that have only one correct answer.
d)    Ensures that, prior to the flight portion of the test, the examiner conducts a preflight briefing in accordance with the guidance in Volume 5, Chapter 2, Section 1.
5)    During the flight portion of the practical testing evaluation, the inspector:
a)    Determines whether the examiner requests maneuvers from the appropriate PTS/ACS and applies those standards.
b)    Determines if the examiner can recognize unsatisfactory performance by the applicant and take appropriate action, such as recognizing the need to take over control of the aircraft, terminating the practical test, and issuing a notice of disapproval.

B.    Practical Test Results. After having observed the examiner conducting a practical test of the applicant, the inspector notes the following four possible outcomes. During the postflight debriefing, the inspector observes the examiner’s critique of the applicant. The inspector determines why the examiner approved or disapproved the applicant and whether the examiner’s judgment was based on the PTS/ACS. In each of these outcomes, the inspector conducts a debriefing with the examiner, separate from the applicant. During the debriefing, the inspector discusses the performance of both the applicant and the examiner. The inspector recommends areas for improvement to the examiner.

1)    If both the examiner and the applicant perform satisfactorily, the inspector observes issuance of the Temporary Airman Certificate by the examiner.
2)    If the examiner performs satisfactorily but the applicant’s performance is unsatisfactory, the inspector observes issuance of the Notice of Disapproval of Application by the examiner.
3)    If the examiner performs unsatisfactorily but the applicant performs satisfactorily, the inspector issues the Temporary Airman Certificate and completes the required documents.
4)    If both the examiner and the applicant perform unsatisfactorily, the inspector issues the Notice of Disapproval of Application and completes all required documents.
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13-524    INSPECTION RESULTS. Based upon the results of the method of inspection, the inspector determines whether the examiner’s performance is satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

A.    Satisfactory Performance. The inspector records the examiner’s satisfactory performance on FAA Form 8000-36.

B.    Unsatisfactory Performance. The inspector records the examiner’s unsatisfactory performance on FAA Form 8000-36 and determines which of the following actions is appropriate:

1)    If the examiner’s performance is unsatisfactory, but the inspector determines that additional training may correct the deficiency, training will be accomplished. The examiner must receive a satisfactory evaluation before exercising testing/certification privileges.
2)    If the examiner’s performance is unsatisfactory to the extent that additional training is inappropriate, the inspector must take action to terminate the examiner’s authority in accordance with Volume 13, Chapter 5, Section 3.
3)    If the inspector has reason to believe the examiner may not be qualified and/or competent to exercise the privileges of the pilot/flight instructor certificate or rating held by that examiner, reexamination of the examiner in accordance with Title 49 of the United States Code (49 U.S.C.) § 44709 may be appropriate. The inspector should see Volume 5, Chapter 7.
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13-525    TASK OUTCOMES. Completion of this task will result in one of the following:

A.    Satisfactory Performance Indication. If the DPE’s performance is satisfactory, the inspector will record the results of the inspection in the PTRS.

B.    Unsatisfactory Performance Indication. If the DPE’s performance is unsatisfactory, the inspector will record the results of the inspection in the PTRS, and one of the following actions may be warranted:

    Termination of the DPE’s designation (see Volume 13, Chapter 5, Section 3); or

    Counseling or other corrective action to obtain satisfactory performance, including a follow-up surveillance plan.

C.    PTRS. The inspector closes the PTRS record.

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    Recordkeeping of completed Airman Certificates and/or ratings as submitted by the DPE. Maintain this recordkeeping in accordance with current FAA office procedures.

    Addition of examiner designations.

    Renewal of the pilot examiner before the expiration date.

    Reinstatement of examiner after expiration of designation.

    Additional surveillance of the examiner.

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RESERVED. Paragraphs 13-527 through 13-530.