Five Recommendations for the Designated Pilot Examiner ARAC

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FAA orders full review of designated examiner system

Congress directs and FAA requests input on DPE standards

FAA establishes an Aviation Remaking Advisory Committee

5 recommendations on how to maximize the ARAC recommendations

“The FAA has assigned a joint FAA-and-industry committee to study ways to improve the designated pilot examiner (DPE) system and report back with recommendations within a year.

Reforming the designated pilot examiner system has been a top priority for AOPA’s advocacy efforts to end bottlenecks in the airman certification process. The review project, assigned by the FAA to its Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee, or ARAC, on June 19, “could go a long way to make much-needed, long lasting improvements,” said David Oord, AOPA senior director of regulatory affairs and ARAC vice-chair.

The study, essentially consisting of a review of all regulations and procedures related to DPEs, will be carried out by a Designated Pilot Examiner Reforms Working Group. The panel must make its recommendations no later than 12 months after its first meeting.”

The task for the DPE Reforms Working Group as established by the FAA Notice:


In response to P.L. 115-254, the Designated Pilot Examiner Reforms Working Group will provide advice and recommendations to the ARAC on the most effective ways to identify areas of needed reform with respect to regulatory and policy changes necessary to ensure an adequate number of designated pilot examiners are deployed and available to perform their duties to meet the growing public need. The Group should review any relevant materials to assist in achieving their objective.

  1. The working group will review all regulatory and policies related to designated pilot examiners appointed under 14 CFR 183.23. Specific areas include, but are not limited to, 14 CFR part 183, 14 CFR part 61, FAA Order 8900.1, FAA Order 8900.2, and FAA Order 8000.95.
  2. The working group will focus on the processes and requirements by which the FAA selects, trains, and deploys individuals as designated pilot examiners, and provide recommendations with respect to the regulatory and policy changes necessary to ensure an adequate number of designated pilot examiners are deployed and available to perform their duties.
  3. In response to P.L. 115-254, the working group will make recommendations with respect to the regulatory and policy changes/ if necessary, to allow a designated pilot examiner to perform a daily limit of 3 new check rides with no limit for partial check rides and to serve as a designed pilot examiner without regard to any individual managing office.
  4. If the task could result in recommendations with substantive changes to policies and rulemaking, then the working group will consider the role of potential qualitative and quantitative costs and benefits, including impacts to resources, of these recommendations compared to their alternatives. If available, the working group should provide preliminary cost and benefit information in the report.
  5. Develop a report containing recommendations on the findings and results of the tasks explained above.
  6. The recommendation report should document both majority and dissenting positions on the findings and the rationale for each position.
  7. Any disagreements should be documented, including the rationale for each position and the reasons for the disagreement.
  8. The working group may be reinstated to assist the ARAC by responding to the FAA’s questions or concerns after the recommendation report has been submitted.

SCHEDULE: The recommendation report should be submitted to the FAA no later than 12 months from the first working group meeting.

Some thoughts on an effective DPE working group:

  1. While AOPA is an incredibly effective advocacy organization, do not push the envelope. Some powerful elements in Washington did not appreciate the association’s attempt to lower the medical requirements. Those same critics are more enflamed by recent aviation safety issues.
  2. Consensus is an incredibly important aspect of any ARAC process. ¶5 instructs the team to document disagreements and include majority and dissenting positions. Any differences will (a) assure that the FAA review takes more time and (b) the majority position will be diminished by the FAA reviewers!

3. To paraphrase Shakespeare’s Hamlet Act 2 Scene 2, “[t]he potential qualitative and quantitative costs and benefits (the play’s) the thing, Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the FAA (king).” Ultimately, any draft NPRM will be judged by OMB by a number of factors, but frequently the most telling is an econometric test of the benefits v. costs. The ARAC would be well served to include someone who could make these calculations. Providing these data in the final report will improve the speed of the FAA review and increase the likelihood that it will be approved.





4. Another important recommendation that will reduce time and confusion—include precisely drafted regulatory language. Not just someone who is a lawyer, but the scribe should be an expert who has experience drafting FARs. The results of other working groups have disappeared within the bowels of 800 Independence Ave. for an inordinately long time while someone translated recommendations into the arcane regulatory jargon. Time may be lost; but more critically, the transfer between ARAC intentions and rules frequently involved some warping of the concept.

5. It is hard work, but the ideas which emerge from an ARAC are 1000% closer to the realities of the world of designated pilot examiners than what even a well-informed government analyst will conceive.








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2 Comments on "Five Recommendations for the Designated Pilot Examiner ARAC"

  1. In flight training business for 13 years the major problem we have is most of the DPE’s have other full time jobs but they take the limited slots that are allowed in each FSDO area. So in my case, out of 9 DPE’s only one did not have a full time job, and he wouldn’t travel so was useless to us.

  2. Sandy Murdock | July 2, 2019 at 1:58 pm | Reply

    Thank you, George Siegler. Please send to AOPA. They will appreciate your insight.

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