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Sep
25
2017

FAA DPE Program Overhaul: Here’s a Thought!

Posted 23 days ago ago by RandyRowles     0 Comments
RandyRowles

The Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) program is a key component to the Federal Aviation Administrations (FAA) ability to administer pilot certification within our current system. The largest majority of FAA pilot examinations are conducted by DPEs, however the DPE pool is shallowing. There are a multitude of reasons why there are less DPEs available with the difficulty of being selected to fulfill the role being at the top of the list. Since the FAA is potentially making changes to the DPE program, I thought I would throw out a few recommendations.

Provisional DPE

Just like an FAA Approved Part 141 Pilot School, a newly minted DPE would be given Provisional status. Instead of providing a DPE with full authority, a limited status would be issued that would provide the FAA a period to ensure they’ve selected the correct candidate for the position. 

A Provisional DPE would receive the following designation:

  • One (1) year designation only
  • Limited to Private and Commercial Pilot Certificates, and Instrument Ratings
  • Limited to a specific Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) service area
  • Assigned a DPE Mentor during the duration of their provisional designation
Level 1 DPE

A Level 1 DPE would have been a DPE for a period of at least 12-months and completed Provisional DPE status. The DPE would have experience providing FAA examinations and developed a reputation with both industry and the FAA. They would be granted expanded authorization to conduct additional types of FAA examinations, however would remain limited to a single FSDO service area.A Level 1 DPE would receive the following designation:

  • Three (3) year designation
  • Authorized to conduct previous examinations with the addition of Initial Flight Instructor, Flight Instructor Instrument, and Airline Transport Pilot (ATP).
  • Limited to a specific FSDO service area
  • Must conduct at least two (2) FAASTeam seminars each year of designation
    • Each seminar may be combined with more than one DPE
Level 2 DPE 

A Level 2 DPE is where industry can benefit from changes to the current DPE program. Geographic limitations would be removed at this level of DPE status. Experience as a DPE and the ability to work outside of any single FSDO service area improves access to provide FAA examinations. The Level 2 DPE would have been a DPE for a period of at least 48-months. Additionally, a Level 2 DPE must be able to conduct all authorizations of a Level 1 DPE for a single Category/Class of aircraft.  
A Level 2 DPE would receive the following designation:
  • Three (3) year designation
  • Authorized to conduct all previous examinations. 
  • Ability to conduct examinations throughout the lower-48 United States.
  • Must conduct at least two (2) FAASTeam seminars each year of designation
    • Each seminar may be combined with more than one DPE
  • Must provide mentoring to at least one (1) Provisional DPE during each period of designation
Level 3 DPE
A Level 3 DPE would not be limited to conducting only FAA pilot certificate examinations. A Level 3 DPE would be issued Operating Specifications allowing conduct of 14 CFR Part 135 Pilot Competency and Line Checks. This designation would require the DPE to meet minimum criteria of Part 135 training and/or checking experience.

A Level 3 DPE would receive the following designation:
  • Three (3) year designation
  • At least three (3) years Part 135 experience as a 135 Director of Operations, Chief Pilot, Flight Instructor, and/or Check Pilot
  • Authorized to conduct all previous examinations with the addition of Part 135 Pilot Competency Checks (135.293), and Line Checks (135.299)
  • Ability to conduct examinations throughout the lower-48 United States
  • Ability to contract Level 3 DPE services to Part 135 operators (at all Part 135 levels of certification)
  • Must conduct at least two (2) FAASTeam seminars each year of designation
    • Each seminar may be combined with more than one DPE
The FAA’s DPE program needs repair and the FAA knows it. Such a robust and comprehensive DPE program would serve a much wider range of pilot candidates, and improve the FAA’s service to a more diverse group. Like pilot training facilities throughout the country, Part 135 operators feel the pinch when FAA staff are unable to provide timely pilot checks. 

As of August 15th, 2017, the FAA now requires Part 135 operators with more than one pilot to have a designated Check Pilot selected and approved. A DPE program with expansion of Part 135 checking authority would be a welcome solution to meet the challenges operators may face meeting this requirement.

Let me know your thoughts. I would love to get your feedback! 

About Randy:  Randy Rowles has been a FAA pilot examiner for 20 years for all helicopter certificates and ratings. He holds a FAA Gold Seal Flight Instructor Certificate, NAFI Master Flight Instructor designation, and was the 2013 recipient of the HAI Flight Instructor of the Year Award.  Randy is currently  Director of Training at Epic Helicopters in Ft. Worth, Texas.






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