8900.1 CHG 614



Section 4  Considerations for the Practical Test

5-76    GENERAL. Although the practical test for each type of certificate or rating is discussed in other sections within Volume 5, there is general information an evaluator should know.

NOTE:  As implementation of the Airman Certification Standards (ACS) expands, the term “certification test” may be used in certain situations because it more fully aligns with the integrated ACS approach to training and testing for airman certification purposes. The terms “practical test” and “certification test” are synonymous for the purposes of this guidance.

A.    Conduct of Practical Tests. All practical tests should be conducted in accordance with Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR), ACS or practical test standards (PTS), as appropriate, operating limitations of the aircraft, and procedures prescribed in the Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) or Rotorcraft Flight Manual (RFM), as applicable. Efforts to standardize testing procedures should not result in procedures contrary to those specified by the AFM or RFM. If an inspector becomes aware of a procedure in any AFM or RFM that is potentially hazardous or contrary to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) policies, the procedure should be brought to the attention of the appropriate Aircraft Certification Office (ACO) through regional channels.

B.    When Tests May Be Given. An inspector may administer airman certification practical tests only while on duty, within the scope of the job description, and while being compensated by the FAA. Unless the approval of a supervisor is obtained, inspectors should not administer tests while on other-than-normal duty.

C.    Airman Knowledge Test Reports (AKTR). An inspector conducting a practical test should note the failed areas coded on the applicant’s AKTR to identify possible deficiencies that may affect the applicant’s flight performance. Authorized instructors may endorse the AKTR form, attesting that an applicant has received instruction in areas missed on the test.

D.    Compliance with FAA Aviation English Language Proficiency (AELP) Standard for 14 CFR Part 61 Pilot Certification.

Indicates new/changed information. Indicates new/changed information.
1)    Before accepting a person’s application for certification, the evaluator must determine whether the applicant can read, speak, write, and understand the English language. Advisory Circular (AC) 60-28, FAA English Language Standard for an FAA Certificate Issued Under 14 CFR Parts 61, 63, 65, and 107, provides expanded guidance of how to determine English language abilities and skills required for pilot certification. If the applicant cannot read, speak, write, or understand the English language, then the practical test may not begin, unless the reason is because of a medical disability. As appropriate, refer the applicant to the jurisdictional Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) for further evaluation. FAA aviation safety inspectors (ASI) (Operations) should refer to Volume 5, Chapter 14 and AC 60-28 for additional guidance. If an applicant does not meet the FAA AELP standards, the evaluator may suggest the applicant take an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) AELP course. A course can be found at https://www4.icao.int/learning/home/overview.
2)    If the reason for the applicant not being able to read, speak, write, and understand English is because of a medical disability (meaning a hearing impairment or speech impairment that is medically substantiated by a certified medical physician), then an operating limitation may be placed on the person’s pilot/instructor certificate. A medical disability of this kind may require an operating limitation to be placed on the person’s pilot certificate that prohibits the pilot from operating in airspace that requires the use of communication radios. However, as a matter of clarification, this limitation would not necessarily prohibit a pilot from operating in airspace that requires the use of communication radios if the pilot has received prior authorization from the jurisdictional air traffic facility where the flight is being conducted, and the pilot is able to receive instructions from that air traffic facility via light signals or some other form of electronic means of communication.


A.    Preflight Briefings. To ensure the highest degree of safety during practical tests, the inspector must conduct a preflight briefing on safety procedures, duties, and responsibilities before each practical test. The plan of action prepared for the practical test may be used as the briefing checklist. The briefing checklist must include a preflight briefing.

1)    This briefing must be given regardless of the abilities of the crewmembers and their previous experience flying together.
2)    The briefing must inform all participants of their respective duties during the flight. This is particularly important in situations when many individuals are involved. For example, during a practical test in a turbojet aircraft requiring two pilots (when the practical test also involves an examiner candidate) up to four people may have responsibilities. The applicant for the certificate or rating and a qualified industry pilot may occupy the two pilot seats. In this case, the qualified industry pilot would function as safety pilot. The test would be administered by an examiner candidate, while a qualified inspector observes both the examiner candidate and the applicant.
3)    The preflight briefing must inform the participants in the practical test of the guidelines and standards the evaluator intends to use to determine if the applicant has passed or failed the maneuver. This would include a discussion of the appropriate ACS or PTS, the circumstances under which maneuvers could be repeated (see paragraph 5-91), and other similar issues.

B.    Safety Pilot. One person must be designated as safety pilot for the practical test, and must occupy a pilot station during the practical test. When an inspector occupies one of the pilot stations, the inspector may perform the role of safety pilot and must do so in certain circumstances (e.g., applicant under the hood). In cases when the inspector does not occupy a pilot station, then a qualified industry pilot must be designated safety pilot.

C.    Safety Pilot Duties. The safety pilot must be briefed on his or her duties prior to the practical test. These duties include the following:

1)    Physically intervening on the controls before a maneuver or procedure deteriorates to an unsafe level,
2)    Ensuring overall safety of the flight to whatever extent necessary, and
3)    Ensuring safety in whatever manner would be effective if a particular maneuver cannot be executed safely.

D.    Evaluator’s Role. The evaluator, when not occupying a pilot station, must rely on the safety pilot to interfere and override any decision by the evaluator, examiner candidate, applicant, or other person if safety requirements demand it.

5-78    DUAL CONTROLS IN A PRACTICAL TEST OR FLIGHT TESTING. This guidance concerns the intent of “dual controls” as it applies to civil aircraft being used for either flight instruction or practical tests in accordance with 14 CFR part 91, § 91.109.

A.    Required Control. Neither previous nor current part 61, § 61.45 nor § 91.109 has listed brakes as “required control” in a civil aircraft when used for either flight instruction or a practical test.

B.    Airplanes Without Dual Brakes. The FAA has held that both flight instruction and practical tests may be conducted in an airplane without dual brakes when the instructor/evaluator determines that the instruction or practical test, as applicable, can be conducted safely in the aircraft. Further, numerous makes and models of both single-engine and multiengine civil aircraft not equipped with two sets of brakes or a central handbrake have been used to provide flight instruction required for virtually all certificate and rating areas authorized under part 61.

C.    Brake Requirements. The FAA has responded to a request for an interpretation of the requirement for brakes on the right side to be equal to the brakes on the left. The policy is that the brakes on the right side do not have to be a duplicate or equal to the brakes on the left side.

1)    Section 91.109(a) states, in part, that no person may operate a civil aircraft that is being used for flight instruction unless that aircraft has fully functioning dual controls.
2)    Title 14 CFR part 141, § 141.39(a) provides that each aircraft used inflight training must have at least two pilot stations with engine power controls that can be easily reached and operated in a normal manner from both pilot stations.
3)    Section 61.45(b)(1)(i) provides that an aircraft used for a practical test must have the equipment for each Area of Operation (AOO) required for the practical test. For example, an evaluator may conduct a flight instructor practical test with an applicant in the right seat without brakes on that side. If a task requires the applicant to use the brakes, he or she may either switch seats with the evaluator to perform the task, or ask the evaluator to apply and release the brakes at the applicant’s request.
4)    Section 61.45(c) provides that an aircraft (other than lighter than air aircraft and gliders without an engine) used for a practical test must have engine power controls and flight controls that are easily reached and operated in a conventional manner by both pilots, unless the evaluator determines that the practical test can be safely conducted in the aircraft without the controls within easy reach.
5)    Dual brakes are not a requirement in §§ 61.45(b)(1)(i), 61.45(c), 91.109(a), and 141.39(a).

5-79    STRUCTURE OF THE PRACTICAL TEST. The practical test consists of a demonstration of aeronautical knowledge, risk management application and a demonstration of aeronautical skill or flight proficiency. These demonstrations are not intended to be separate tests; rather, they are intended to be conducted concurrently. However, circumstances may occasionally exist in which separate knowledge, risk management, and skill demonstrations are more practical and acceptable (see paragraph 5-83).

A.    The Ground Portion. The demonstration of aeronautical knowledge consists of a question and answer exchange between the evaluator and the applicant. The applicant’s AKTR identifies areas in which the application was found deficient. At a minimum, these areas should be tested to determine the applicant adequately understands the subject matter being tested in accordance with the applicable ACS or PTS and part 61. It is required that the ground portion of the practical test precede the flight/flight simulation training device (FSTD) portion of the practical test.

1)    The questions asked of an applicant should be clearly stated and have only one correct response. The correct response to the question should reflect that the applicant has a clear understanding of the subject. Trick questions should be avoided. The correct answers to all questions should be available in the regulations, AFM, RFM, or other acceptable sources.
2)    Maintaining an unintimidating atmosphere is important, since it allows the applicant to relax and ultimately improves performance. Care should be taken, however, not to give the applicant “ground school.” If questions are consistently missed, or if the applicant gives confused or unrelated answers, the examination must be ended and a notice of disapproval issued.

B.    Group Testing. Except in the circumstances listed below, applicants must be tested individually and separately. The FAA has determined this practice of restricting simultaneous testing ensures confidentiality and the quality of the test. Simultaneous testing may be approved only under the following conditions:

1)    Simultaneous testing must be limited to the ground portion of an aircraft type rating practical test.
2)    No more than two applicants may be tested simultaneously, and only if they were trained in the same aircraft and training course. If an applicant prefers to be tested separately, the evaluator must conduct the test individually.
3)    Simultaneous testing may not be permitted for the original issuance of the grade of pilot certificate (i.e., Recreational Pilot Certificate, Sport Pilot Certificate, Instrument Rating Certification, Private Pilot Certificate, Commercial Pilot Certificate, or Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate).
4)    An example in which simultaneous testing may be permitted is a practical test for aircraft type rating for a Learjet 35 (meaning an aircraft that requires two pilot crewmembers) that involves two applicants.

C.    The Flight Portion. The demonstration of skill is the flight portion of the practical test, in which the applicant demonstrates proficiency in the aircraft for which the certificate or rating is sought.

1)    The ACS or PTS, as appropriate, detail specific objectives, tasks, operations, and expected results for a certificate or rating. If the applicant does not meet the standards of performance of any task performed, the associated AOO is failed, and the practical test is failed. The applicant is not eligible for the certificate or rating until the failed AOO is passed on a subsequent test.
2)    The evaluator or applicant may discontinue the test at any time after the failure of an AOO makes the applicant ineligible for the certificate or rating sought. If the test is discontinued, the applicant should receive credit only for those AOOs successfully performed. During the retest and at the discretion of the evaluator, any task may be reevaluated, including those previously passed. However, evaluators testing applicants on all AOOs during a retest is not appropriate.

D.    Retest in the Event of Failure.

1)    An applicant who fails the practical test may reapply for a retest after meeting the following conditions:
a)    The applicant must receive the necessary training from an authorized instructor who has determined that the applicant is proficient to pass the test; and
Indicates new/changed information.
b)    The applicant must receive an endorsement from an authorized instructor who gave the applicant the additional training.
2)    An applicant for a flight instructor certificate with an airplane category rating (or for a flight instructor certificate with a glider category rating) who has failed the practical test due to deficiencies in instructional proficiency on stall awareness, spin entry, spins, or spin recovery must:
a)    Comply with the requirements of subparagraph D1) above before being retested;
b)    Bring an aircraft to the retest that is of the appropriate aircraft category for the rating sought and is certificated for spins; and
Indicates new/changed information.
c)    Demonstrate satisfactory instructional proficiency on stall awareness, spin entry, spins, and spin recovery to an examiner during the retest.

5-80    PREREQUISITES FOR PRACTICAL TESTS. To be eligible for a practical test, an applicant must meet the following prerequisites:

A.    Knowledge Test Requirement. The applicant must have passed the required knowledge test (1) within the 24 calendar-months preceding the practical test, if one is required, or (2) within the 60 calendar‑months preceding the practical test for an ATP Certificate with an airplane category multiengine class rating, or an ATP Certificate obtained concurrently with an airplane type rating after having completed the ATP Certification Training Program (CTP) in § 61.156. Extending the validity period for ATP knowledge tests may be permitted per § 61.39, and is discussed further in Volume 5, Chapter 3, Section 1. Refer to § 61.35 for knowledge test prerequisites and passing grades.

NOTE:  For an applicant applying for an ATP Certificate with an airplane category multiengine class rating or an ATP Certificate obtained concurrently with an airplane type rating, an ATP knowledge test report certified July 31, 2014, or earlier is valid for 24 calendar-months. A knowledge test report certified after July 31, 2014, is valid for 60 calendar-months.

B.    Medical Certificate Requirements. An applicant for a practical test, except for practical tests involving a test for a glider or a balloon rating that require no medical certificate, must have at least a third-class medical certificate.

NOTE:  A third-class medical certificate is the only medical certificate required for the applicant to apply for a practical test. However, to exercise the privileges of a Commercial Pilot Certificate or ATP Certificate, the person must have the appropriate class medical certificate per § 61.23. No medical certificate is required when an applicant is taking a test or check for a certificate, rating, or authorization in an FSTD.

C.    Documentation. Documentation must be presented by the applicant verifying that all aeronautical experience prerequisites are met. This includes endorsements, if required, and a written record of ground and flight time. The applicant must also present an appropriately completed FAA Form 8710-1, Airman Certification and/or Rating Application.

NOTE:  Refer to § 61.39(d) for additional documents that may be required for those applicants for an ATP Certificate with an airplane category multiengine class rating or an ATP Certificate obtained concurrently with an airplane type rating.

5-81    ACS. When administering a practical test based on an ACS, the tasks appropriate to the class of airplane (Airplane Single-Engine Land (ASEL), Airplane Single-Engine Sea (ASES), Airplane Multiengine Land (AMEL), or Airplane Multiengine Sea (AMES)) used for the practical test must be included in the plan of action. The absence of a class notation for a task listed in the ACS indicates the task is for all classes.

A.    Elements Evaluated. Each task in the ACS has elements identified for knowledge, risk management, and skill. In contrast to testing based on a PTS, which is primarily focused on the skill elements, a practical test that is administered based on an ACS is not required to incorporate each element within a task. Instead, the emphasis is placed on elements that were missed by the applicant on the knowledge test and the required skill elements within each task. The plan of action must include at least one knowledge element and at least one risk management element. The evaluator must ensure that all skill elements have been evaluated, regardless of how many knowledge elements and risk management elements are tested. Each knowledge element listed on the AKTR must be evaluated as part of evaluating the task containing those elements. For example, evaluating a knowledge element for a particular task that is identified on the AKTR will satisfy the requirement to minimally test at least one knowledge element for a task. The evaluator has discretion to evaluate additional elements, if needed, to determine the applicant adequately understands the subject matter.

B.    ACS Codes. The introduction to the ACS explains the ACS codes. For example, PA.I.B.K2:

    PA = Applicable ACS (Private Pilot – Airplane).

    I = Area of Operation (Preflight Preparation).

    B = Task (Airworthiness Requirements).

    K2 = Knowledge Task Element 2 (Individuals who can perform maintenance on the aircraft, including Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) and Inspection Authorization (IA) roles in aircraft maintenance and inspections).

C.    PLT/ACS Code Usage.

1)    The current knowledge test management system does not have the capability to print ACS codes. Until a new test management system is in place, the Learning Statement Codes (LSC) (e.g., “PLT” codes) will continue to be displayed on the AKTR. The PLT codes are linked to references leading to broad subject areas. By contrast, each ACS code is tied to a unique task element in the ACS itself. Because of this fundamental difference, there is no one-to-one correlation between LSC (PLT) codes and ACS codes.
2)    Because all active knowledge test questions for the Private Pilot-Airplane (PAR) and the Instrument Rating Airplane (IRA) knowledge tests have been aligned with the corresponding ACS, evaluators can use PLT codes in conjunction with the ACS for more targeted retesting of missed knowledge. The evaluator should look up the PLT code(s) on the applicant’s AKTR in the Learning Statement Reference Guide. After noting the subject area(s), the evaluator can use the corresponding AOO(s)/task(s) in the ACS to narrow the scope of material for retesting and to evaluate the applicant’s understanding of that material in the context of the appropriate ACS AOO(s) and task(s).

D.    Individualization of Plan of Action. In order to develop a plan of action individualized to the particular practical test, the evaluator must review a copy of the applicant’s AKTR prior to the test. In addition to the required elements, the ACS codes, reflected on the AKTR, must be tested during the practical test. It is recommended that the evaluator request a copy of the AKTR when the applicant calls to schedule the practical test. This may also be accomplished by obtaining the applicant’s FAA tracking number (FTN) and reviewing the AKTR in the Integrated Airmen Certification and/or Rating Application (IACRA). The evaluator should allow for sufficient preparation time prior to the practical test to thoughtfully tailor his or her plan of action to that individual’s test to determine the applicant adequately understands the subject matter being tested. Additional information on plan of action development can be found in Volume 5, Chapter 2, Section 1.

5-82    PTS. The regulations specify the areas in which knowledge and skill must be demonstrated by an applicant before a certificate can be issued. The PTS contain the specific tasks in which knowledge and competency must be demonstrated. When necessary, the FAA should add, delete, or revise these tasks to enhance flight safety.

A.    Practical Test Correlation to Part 61. The AOOs specified in part 61 for each grade of certificate are contained in the PTS. Specific procedures and maneuvers used to ensure competence within each AOO are addressed in the applicable PTS.

B.    Public Availability. The public may purchase copies of the PTS from the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO), Superintendent of Documents, Washington, DC 20401. FAA inspectors receive copies and revisions through regular FAA distribution channels. Copies can also be found on the internet at http://www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/test_standards/.

C.    PTS Introduction. The introductory section of the PTS gives detailed instructions on the use of the standards for conducting a practical test.

1)    The standards are arranged into sections with “Areas of Operation.” AOOs are phases of flight in a logical sequence, beginning with preflight preparation and ending with the flight’s conclusion.
2)    Practical tests must be conducted according to the requirements of the applicable PTS.
3)    The evaluator should not allow the conduct of practical tests to evolve into a predictable pattern that can or will be recognized by students or instructors.
4)    Evaluation of an applicant’s performance should be based on the applicant’s ability to satisfactorily meet the objectives of each required task.

NOTE:  At the time of this writing, the FAA is transitioning from the use of the PTS to ACS. Because not all practical tests are based on the same reference document, determine which reference document is appropriate for the practical test being conducted. Additional guidance on conducting a practical test can be found in Volume 5, Chapter 2, Section 1.


A.    Segmented/Normal Sequence.

1)    A segmented practical test normally involves conducting a practical test when an aircraft and an FSTD are used. It is required that the ground portion of the practical test precede the FSTD portion of the practical test. After the applicant has satisfactorily completed the ground portion of the practical test, the applicant should be administered the FSTD portion of the practical test. After the applicant satisfactorily completes the FSTD portion of the practical test, the applicant should be administered the flight/aircraft portion of the practical test. However, the FAA recognizes that there may be times when inclement weather or aircraft maintenance discrepancies may cause the order of testing to be altered from the recommended and preferred method.
2)    The applicant has 60 days from the date the ground portion of the practical test was passed to satisfactorily accomplish the FSTD and flight portions of the practical test. An evaluator may use oral questioning at any time during the practical test. The applicant is required to present FAA Form 8710-1 with the appropriate endorsements as proof that portion of the test was satisfactory.
3)    Evaluators may request that the applicant perform maneuvers in the aircraft that were completed satisfactorily during the FSTD portion of the test if they desire or need to further test the applicant’s competency and proficiency on those maneuvers.

B.    Nonsegmented Normal Sequence. Except for the ATP practical test, there is no formal division between the knowledge portion and FSTD or actual flight portion of any pilot or flight instructor practical test. Oral questioning is conducted throughout the testing process. However, there are numerous tasks that are only knowledge tasks, and are not normally tested during the flight portion. Additionally, there are skills task(s) for which good judgment and safety of flight dictate that significant knowledge be determined before continuing to the actual flight portion (e.g., stalls, steep turns, emergencies). Therefore, during the conduct of pilot/flight instructor practical testing, evaluators must conduct the ground, FSTD (if applicable), and actual flight portions of the practical test, in that order. This does not mean that oral questioning cannot continue throughout the flight and after the aircraft is shut down on the ramp. However, subjects that might normally be expected to require continued testing at this point would be postflight and/or areas of knowledge incompletely tested in the latter stage of the flight portion.

C.    Unusual/Abnormal Sequence. In unusual circumstances, it may be more practical and/or desirable to conduct certification testing over more than one day (e.g., balloon tests where late morning/afternoon winds may interfere with the normally planned testing timeframe, or climates where early morning/afternoon/evening temperatures may make flight testing extremely uncomfortable or even unsafe). In these cases, the inspector should issue a letter of discontinuance.

5-84    CARRIAGE OF PASSENGERS DURING PRACTICAL TESTS. The practice of carrying persons is limited only to individuals who have a legitimate interest in the practical test.

A.    Authorized Persons. These individuals may include the following:

    Persons preparing for a similar flight test;

    Flight instructors assigned to similar flight training activities;

    Designated Examiners (DE) who are authorized to conduct similar flight tests or examiner candidates;

    Chief pilots or instructors for flight schools and executive operators;

    Owners/operators of the aircraft; and

    Other inspectors.

B.    Unauthorized Persons. Examples of unauthorized persons are non-flying relatives, persons not involved in a flight training program, non-flying employees, or friends of the owner or operator.

C.    Consent for Passenger Carriage. The carriage of authorized persons must have the consent of the owner/operator, the practical test applicant, and the evaluator.

D.    Additional Crewmembers. In some large aircraft, practical tests may include operations (e.g., simulated equipment failures or engine fires) that may divert the attention of both pilots. In such cases, the inspector should request the applicant to provide a qualified observer on the flight deck to assist in maintaining a constant watch for other air traffic.

5-85    AIRCRAFT AND EQUIPMENT USED DURING PRACTICAL TESTS. Section 61.45 states that an applicant for an Airman Certificate or added rating must furnish an Airworthy aircraft appropriate for the certificate or rating sought. This includes military aircraft or properly certificated aircraft of foreign registry.

Indicates new/changed information.

A.    Aircraft Incapable of Performing Certain Tasks on a Practical Test. Per § 61.45(b)(2), it is permissible to use a Cessna 336 or 337 for an AMEL rating. The Cessna 336 and 337 series airplanes do not have a published minimum controllable airspeed with the critical engine inoperative (VMC) and thus cannot perform the VMC demonstration task. The Ercoupe 415 series does not have published stall speeds and cannot perform the stall or spin task. Further examples are found in Figure 5-10, Examples of Certificate Limitations for Aircraft That Are Incapable of Performing Certain Tasks on a Practical Test.

B.    Aircraft Airworthiness Status Requirements for Airman Practical Tests.

1)    Historically, applicants for addition of Airman Certificate or a rating to that certificate have been required to furnish an aircraft in an Airworthy condition for each flight test that they are required to take. Title 14 CFR part 21 subpart H prescribes appropriate requirements for the issuance of airworthiness certificates for aircraft of U.S. registry found to be Airworthy, and § 61.45(a)(2)(i) and (ii) provide regulatory guidance concerning the acceptable airworthiness status for aircraft of U.S. registry and foreign registry. However, clarification is necessary regarding the use of military and former military aircraft for practical tests under § 61.45(a)(2)(iii). A recent change to § 61.45(a)(2)(iii) states, “at the discretion of the examiner who administers the practical test, the applicant may furnish a military aircraft of the same category, class, and type, if aircraft class and type are appropriate, for which the applicant is applying for a certificate or rating.” The General Aviation and Commercial Division is aware of the misunderstanding regarding the meaning of military aircraft as described in § 61.45(a)(2)(iii). Therefore, the following policy is intended to clarify the airworthiness status necessary for these military aircraft.
2)    Flight Standards ASIs should understand that for use in conducting airman certification practical tests (by either inspectors or examiners), an acceptable military aircraft is one that is in operational status and under the direct operational control of the Armed Forces (i.e., Active or Reserve component). An Airworthy former military aircraft is issued either a standard, limited, or other type of airworthiness certificate by the FAA; is maintained in accordance with 14 CFR parts 21, 43, and 91; continues to meet its original type design or approved altered condition; and is in condition for safe flight. Therefore, former military aircraft that do not comply with the above requirements may not be used to administer airman certification practical tests since they are no longer in an operational status and under operational control of the Armed Forces (regular, reserve, or guard). It should also be noted that former military aircraft used in public aircraft operations (PAO) that do not hold an airworthiness certificate may not be used for airman certification practical tests.

NOTE:  If the aircraft has a Special Airworthiness Certificate in the restricted category, an exemption to portions of § 91.313 may be required in order to conduct practical tests.

C.    Aircraft and Equipment for the Practical Test.

1)    The FAA has become aware of a recreational pilot certificate that was erroneously issued for the ASEL rating because the practical test was conducted in an experimental category amateur-built, flex-wing aircraft with weight-shift-controls.
a)    The General Aviation and Commercial Division’s concern is that the requirements of § 61.45(b) and (c) may not have been fulfilled by this unconventional aircraft (i.e., an experimental category amateur-built, flex-wing aircraft with weight-shift-controls) presented for the practical test. This aircraft had both unconventional flight controls and/or operating characteristics, as described above. The use of this and similar aircraft may prevent the applicant from performing all of the tasks required for the practical test, and any pilot certificate issued as a result of that practical test would have to contain appropriate limitations when deemed appropriate (i.e., as required by § 61.45(b)(2)). In the subject case, no limitations were placed on the certificate nor were any deemed appropriate.
b)    Evaluators are responsible for ensuring that an applicant adequately meets all the appropriate training and certification requirements of part 61 before issuing the pilot certificate. It is especially important that, before issuing a pilot certificate, applicants perform all required tasks outlined in the appropriate ACS or PTS for the aircraft category and class rating and at the appropriate pilot certification level sought. If not, the pilot certificate must contain appropriate operating limitations. In FAA Order 8900.2, General Aviation Airman Designee Handbook, as well as in this order, guidance that is related to the scope of airman training or certification permitted or prohibited in hang gliders, ultralights, and similar vehicles will be upgraded to reflect advances made in aircraft technology and their authorized use under part 61.
2)    Except as provided in § 61.45, an aircraft used on a practical test must be equipped for each AOO and task required by the appropriate ACS or PTS. The equipment should have no operating limitations that would prohibit the aircraft’s use in any of the required AOOs and tasks. The aircraft must have at least two pilot stations with adequate visibility for safe operation. When the evaluator is in a forward observer’s seat, the aircraft’s flight deck and outside visibility must be adequate to permit the evaluator to evaluate the applicant’s performance.

D.    View-Limiting Device. During the practical test for an instrument rating or other ratings requiring a demonstration of instrument proficiency, the applicant must provide equipment, satisfactory to the inspector, which prevents flight by visual reference.

E.    Single Controls. At the discretion of the inspector, an aircraft furnished by the applicant may have a single set of flight controls. In this situation, the inspector observes the applicant from the ground or from another aircraft.

1)    Tests for the addition of aircraft class or type ratings to Private and Commercial Pilot Certificates may be conducted in single-control or single-place aircraft under § 61.45(e)(1) and (2).
2)    Pilot certificates issued following successful completion of a flight check conducted in a single‑place gyroplane in accordance with § 61.45(e)(2) must bear the following limitation: “PRIVATE PILOT, ROTORCRAFT SINGLE-PLACE GYROPLANE ONLY” or, for a certificate of a higher grade than private, “ROTORCRAFT SINGLE-PLACE GYROPLANE, PRIVATE PILOT PRIVILEGES ONLY.”

F.    Self-Launching Gliders. Aircraft certificated as gliders with self-launching capability cannot be used for any airplane practical test, since there are no dual airplane–glider category designations. Inspectors can determine the category of an aircraft by examining the airworthiness certificate.

5-86    PRACTICAL TEST DISCONTINUATION. Environmental, mechanical, or personal situations can occur that cause the practical test to be discontinued. If these occur, the inspector should assure the applicant that he or she has not failed the practical test, and should attempt to reschedule the test as soon as possible. The most frequent reasons for discontinuance of a practical test are weather, unforeseen mechanical problems, and applicant incapacitation.

A.    Weather. A test could be postponed by rapidly changing weather. For example, at the conclusion of the knowledge demonstration portion of the practical test, the inspector and the applicant may discover that lowered ceilings or visibility would preclude a safely conducted flight.

B.    Mechanical Problems. The applicant may discover, during preparation for the flight portion of the test, a mechanical problem that would preclude safe conduct of the flight. For example, preflight examination could reveal that the wrong grade of fuel had been placed in the aircraft. In this case, an appropriate inspector should issue an aircraft condition notice or a special flight permit (SFP) to the owner/operator after inspection of the aircraft.

C.    Medical Problems. The applicant or inspector could experience medical problems (e.g., severe headaches or sinusitis because of pressure changes) after the test has begun. The test should be discontinued immediately at either the applicant’s or the inspector’s suggestion.

D.    Letter of Discontinuance. When a practical test is discontinued for reasons other than unsatisfactory performance, FAA Form 8710-1 and the airman test results will be returned to the applicant. At that time, the inspector signs and issues a letter identifying the portions of the practical test that were successfully completed (see Figure 5-9, Letter of Discontinuance).

1)    A copy of the letter should be retained by the inspector for recording work accomplishment.
2)    The applicant may use the letter to show an evaluator which portion of the practical test was successfully completed, provided that another test is attempted within 60 days. When the test is resumed, the letter should be forwarded to the Airmen Certification Branch and made a part of the airman’s certification file. Inspectors should reexamine the applicant on any area of the operation where the inspector doubts the applicant’s competence.
3)    When more than 60 days have elapsed since the original practical test and issuance of a letter of discontinuance, the credit conveyed by the letter of discontinuance is no longer valid and the inspector should examine all required AOOs.

5-87    IMPLEMENTATION OF SPECIAL FEDERAL AVIATION REGULATION (SFAR) 73: ASI RESPONSE TO AUTHORIZATION AND ENDORSEMENT REQUESTS. SFAR 73 establishes special training and experience requirements for pilots operating the Robinson model R-22 or R-44 helicopters. The FAA has determined that this SFAR is needed to respond to a number of accidents involving the Robinson model R-22 and R-44 helicopters. The intended effect of this action is to increase awareness of the potential hazards of particular flight operations in the Robinson helicopters. Many of these accidents are attributed to pilot performance or experience leading to low rotor revolutions per minute (rpm) or low-g conditions that resulted in mast bumping or rotor/airframe contact accidents. Its small size and relatively low operating costs result in its use as a training or small utility aircraft and operation by a significant population of relatively inexperienced helicopter pilots.


A.    Preflight Discussion Item. Evaluators who conduct practical tests in a multiengine airplane must discuss methods of simulating engine failure with the applicant during the required preflight briefing to ensure an understanding of expectations. The evaluator and the applicant must discuss and follow the aircraft manufacturer’s recommended procedures.

B.    Feathering Propellers. An appropriately equipped airplane must be provided by the applicant.

1)    The feathering of one propeller must be demonstrated in flight in multiengine airplanes equipped with propellers which can be feathered and unfeathered. However, as is the case for all practical tests, the certification standards require that the applicant bring an aircraft that is “capable of performing all appropriate tasks for the certificate or rating and have no operating limitations that prohibit the performance of those tasks.”
2)    If, due to environmental considerations, the feathering demonstration cannot be safely performed, a letter of discontinuance must be issued.
3)    A propeller that cannot be unfeathered during the practical test must be treated as an emergency.
4)    Feathering and engine shutdown must be performed at altitudes, in areas, and from positions where safe landings on established airports can be readily accomplished.

C.    Simulated Engine Failure. At altitudes lower than 3,000 feet above the surface, simulated engine failure must be performed by adjusting the throttle to simulate zero thrust. This safety provision does not negate the ACS/PTS, as appropriate, requires testing of the task “Maneuvering with One Engine Inoperative” 3,000 feet above the surface.

5-89    PRACTICAL TESTS IN MILITARY AIRCRAFT. Inspectors are occasionally required to administer practical tests in military aircraft. The aircraft provided by the applicant must be equipped to perform all maneuvers required on the test.

A.    Aircraft Authorization. After a request for a practical test is received, an appointment for the test is arranged between the inspector and applicant. At the time of the request, the applicant should be informed that he or she will be required to present a letter from the commanding officer or the operations officer of the military organization, stating that the applicant is authorized to use the aircraft for a practical test from the FAA, and that all maneuvers required for the test are authorized to be conducted in the aircraft. Without the official, original letter accompanying the application, no part of the test (e.g., ground, FSTD check, or preflight operations) should be given.

B.    Delineation of Responsibility. A clear understanding of responsibility among the inspector, district office manager, and military organization must be maintained, so that no question of accident or injury claim liability exists. The Federal Employees Compensation Act requires managers to certify whether an employee was on official government duty whenever a claim for an injury or death is submitted. Employee official travel must be identified by the date and time of its beginning and end. An FAA inspector must be on “official FAA duty” while conducting such practical tests.

Indicates new/changed information.

C.    ATP Practical Tests. An area of concern is the administration of an ATP certification practical test in a large aircraft for which there is no civil counterpart. Current policy provides for inspectors to give such tests with an appropriate class rating, even though an aircraft type rating is not concurrently issued. Emphasis is placed on ensuring that the aircraft is properly equipped to perform all flight maneuvers and that all equipment is functional before flight. Additionally, the aircraft must be properly equipped for the inspector (e.g., forward observer’s seat, communications panel, oxygen provisions). At the conclusion of the flight test, the inspector should enter the appropriate category or class rating on the certificate with any appropriate limitation, such as visual flight rules (VFR) only, etc.

Indicates new/changed information.

D.    Evaluators. Evaluators who are asked to conduct tests in military aircraft should follow the above guidelines.

5-90    REMOVAL OF LIMITED TO CENTER THRUST LIMITATION. The “Limited to Center Thrust” limitation is issued to applicants who complete a practical test for the AMEL or AMES rating in an aircraft that does not have a manufacturer’s published VMC. To remove the “Limited to Center Thrust” limitation, the applicant must complete a practical test composed of certain specific multiengine tasks. Those tasks are identified for the removal of “Limited to Center Thrust” in the current edition of the ACS or PTS appropriate to the certificate level sought. An applicant may use an FSTD that is representative of a multiengine airplane that has a manufacturer’s published VMC and used in accordance with a program approved for a 14 CFR part 142 certificate holder.

5-91    REPEATING MANEUVERS ON PRACTICAL TESTS. A maneuver that is not performed to the required standard during a practical test may not be repeated unless one of the following conditions applies:

A.    Discontinuance. Discontinuance of a maneuver for valid safety reasons (e.g., a go-around or other procedure necessary to modify the originally planned maneuver).

B.    Collision Avoidance. Inspector intervention on the flight controls to avoid another aircraft the applicant could not have seen due to position or other factors.

C.    Misunderstood Requests. Legitimate instances when applicants do not understand an inspector’s request to perform a specific maneuver. An applicant’s failure to understand the nature of a specified maneuver being requested is not grounds for repeating a maneuver.

D.    Other Factors. Any condition under which the inspector was distracted to the point that he or she could not adequately observe applicant performance of the maneuver (e.g., radio calls, traffic).


A.    Inspector’s Responsibilities. In the event that an accident or incident should occur during a practical test, the inspector must follow the prescribed procedures in Volume 7, Chapter 1, Section 1. The safeguarding of lives and property should be the highest priority following an accident or incident.

B.    Additional Procedures. In addition to the procedures in Volume 7, Chapter 1, Section 1, the inspector must observe the following procedures in the event of an accident or incident during a practical test:

1)    Do not make any statements to investigators, such as National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) representatives, other inspectors, FAA attorneys, or reporters as to the course or circumstances of the accident/incident without clearance from the FAA Office of the Chief Counsel for Litigation and General Law (AGC-400).
2)    Refer reporters, if any, to the FAA Office of Public Affairs.
3)    Call AGC-400 as soon as practical after involvement in an accident/incident.
4)    Call the regional communications center as soon as practical after involvement in an accident or incident.

5-93    DOCUMENTATION PHASE. There are documentation requirements that must be completed after each phase of the testing process. Documentation requirements are specified in the section applicable to each certificate and are listed on appropriate job aids. After completing all phases of the testing process, the inspector or examiner should complete a Program Tracking and Reporting Subsystem (PTRS) entry. The evaluator should collect the required documents and attach them to the completed application form. Inspectors should forward the certification paperwork through their supervisors to the Airmen Certification Branch. Evaluators should forward the appropriate certification paperwork to the appropriate certificate-holding district office (CHDO).

Figure 5-8.  Reserved

Figure 5-9.  Letter of Discontinuance

FAA Letterhead


[Applicant’s Name and Address]

Dear [Applicant’s Name]:

On this date, you successfully completed the ground portion of the practical test for a [indicate grade] certificate with an [indicate category] and [indicate class] class rating. The practical test was discontinued because of [indicate reason].

If application is made by [indicate date 60 days from date of letter], this letter may be used to show the following portions of the practical test which have been completed satisfactorily:

[Indicate Areas of Operation (AOO) completed on the test.]

After [indicate expiration date], you must repeat the entire practical test. This letter does not extend the expiration date as shown on the knowledge test results, your graduation certificate, medical certificate, or required endorsements.


[Signature of inspector or examiner conducting practical certification test of examiner candidate]

Indicates new/changed information.

Figure 5-10.  Examples of Certificate Limitations for Aircraft That Are Incapable of Performing Certain Tasks on a Practical Test

A.    The person is using a Cessna 336 to add an Airplane Multiengine Land (AMEL) rating onto a Commercial Pilot Certificate for which the applicant already holds an Airplane Single-Engine Land (ASEL) rating. This airplane does not have a minimum controllable airspeed with the critical engine inoperative (VMC) established by the manufacturer and thus cannot perform the VMC demonstration task. Specific guidance on the limitations to place on the applicant’s pilot certificate is as follows:

Commercial pilot

ASEL and AMEL limited to center thrust

Indicates new/changed information.

NOTE:  When the applicant completes a commercial pilot practical test in a multiengine airplane that has a published VMC, the limitation may be removed. The practical test is composed of certain specific multiengine tasks identified for the removal of “Limited to Center Thrust” in the current edition of the Commercial Pilot Airman Certification Standards (ACS).

Indicates new/changed information.

B.    The person is using a Cessna 336 to add an airplane multiengine rating onto a flight instructor certificate for which the applicant already holds an Airplane Single Engine (ASE) rating. No limitations need to be placed on the applicant’s flight instructor certificate since the person’s flight instructor certificate is limited by the privileges on his or her Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) or Commercial Pilot Certificate (refer to § 61.195(b)). Therefore, an applicant who applies for an airplane multiengine rating to be added on his or her flight instructor certificate and performs the practical test in a Cessna Skymaster (336 or 337) and whose ATP or Commercial Pilot Certificate contains the “Limited to Center Thrust” limitation would be also be held to that limitation when flight instructing.

NOTE:  To flight-instruct in a multiengine airplane that has a VMC established by the manufacturer, the person would merely need to complete training and certification at a pilot certificate level of at least the commercial pilot level in a multiengine airplane that has a published VMC, and then the limitation would be removed from his or her pilot certificate.

C.    The person is using a Cessna Skymaster (336 or 337) to qualify for an additional AMEL rating onto his or her existing private pilot certificate and instrument privileges in a multiengine airplane for which the applicant already holds an ASE rating and instrument airplane rating. This airplane does not have a VMC established by the manufacturer and thus cannot perform the tasks “Engine failure during straight and level flights and turns” and “Instrument approach one engine inoperative.” Specific guidance on the limitations to place on the applicant’s private pilot certificate is as follows:

Private pilot

ASEL and AMEL limited to center thrust

Instrument – Airplane

Indicates new/changed information.

NOTE:  When the applicant completes the training, endorsements, and the instrument tasks required by the appropriate Instrument Rating Airplane (IRA) ACS in a multiengine airplane that has a published VMC, the limitation may be removed.

D.    The person is using an Ercoupe 415B for a private pilot certificate for an ASEL rating. This airplane does not have published stall speeds and cannot perform the stall or spin task. Specific guidance on the limitations to place on the applicant’s private pilot certificate is as follows:

Private pilot

ASEL limited to Ercoupe 415

NOTE:  When the applicant completes a private pilot practical test in a single-engine airplane that has published stall speeds and stalling capabilities, the limitation may be removed.

RESERVED. Paragraphs 5-94 through 5-110.