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New FAA Rule May Limit DPEs to Their Home FSDO

Aviation and Flying
SUN JUN 18 2023
Written by Tim Jedrek

FAA's NPRM Order 8000.95B Change 1 Designee Management Policy contains a multitude of policy related changes.  In essence, DPEs will be limited to their home FSDO meaning that they can only conduct flight tests in their local area.


What is an NPRM?


An NPRM is a formal document published by the FAA to propose new regulations or changes to existing regulations. It serves as a way for the FAA to inform the public, stakeholders, and interested parties about their intended regulatory actions and solicit feedback.


When the FAA identifies a need for new regulations or modifications to existing ones, they publish an NPRM in the Federal Register, which is the official journal of the U.S. federal government. The NPRM outlines the proposed rules, their purpose, and the FAA's rationale behind them. It also provides a period for interested individuals and organizations to submit comments, concerns, or suggestions regarding the proposed rules.


Who's Talking About this Proposed Change?


In FSANA's (Flight School Association of North America) June newsletter, they put out a call to action for flight schools, DPEs and others with interest in the flight training to send comments to the FAA stating that they do not support the proposed changes.  FSANA holds the stance that DPEs should be able to travel outside their FSDO location to conduct flight testing.


Other notable groups supporting the oposition of this proposed change includes the Helicopter Association International (HAI).  On June 14, they also published the news of this proposed change and asked for additional comments to be sent to the FAA.


As of 6/18/2023, the FAA has closed comments from the public.  The existing order can be found here.

FAA NPRM Comments Closed


Why Should DPEs be Allowed Outside Their FSDO?


Typically, DPEs are assigned to a specific Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) and primarily operate within their geographical area. However, there may be circumstances where allowing DPEs to conduct flight testing outside their FSDO could be beneficial. Here are a few reasons why such flexibility might be warranted:


Geographic Constraints - Some FSDOs cover large geographical areas, which can result in significant distances between the DPE's location and the candidate's location. Allowing DPEs to conduct flight tests outside their FSDO enables greater accessibility for candidates who may be located far from the DPE's home base.


Increased Availability - By allowing DPEs to operate outside their FSDO, it expands the pool of available examiners for flight testing. This can help address potential bottlenecks or long wait times for scheduling tests, particularly in areas with a high demand for flight testing services.


Specialized Expertise - In certain cases, candidates may require flight testing for specific endorsements or ratings that necessitate specialized knowledge or equipment. Allowing DPEs to conduct flight tests outside their FSDO can facilitate access to examiners who possess the necessary expertise or equipment required for conducting those specialized tests.


Efficient Resource Utilization - Permitting DPEs to travel beyond their FSDO boundaries enables more efficient utilization of their time and resources. Instead of confining DPEs to a limited geographic area, they can serve a broader range of candidates and locations, potentially reducing travel costs and maximizing their productivity.


Allowing DPEs to conduct flight testing outside their FSDO can offer benefits but there are also considerations to ensure appropriate oversight, consistency, and adherence to FAA regulations. Any such expansion of DPE operations should be implemented with appropriate guidelines and mechanisms to maintain the integrity and quality of the testing process.


Is There a DPE Shortage?


Depending on where you are and what type of flight test you're going for there might be.  If you're calling your DPE and they are booked out for months, you may have a shortage in your area.  However, as the General Aviation News calls out, CFIs are also making mistakes.  DPEs are getting booked for a flight test and when they show up to the checkride, they are seeing that an estimated "one fifth of applicants never even qualify to start their FAA flight tests due to incorrect endorsements or inadequate pilot experience."


Scheduling a checkride when the applicant isn't even ready fills DPEs' schedules and prevents other qualified candidates from being able to schedule their own checkride.


Comments on the General Aviation News included, "Yes, there is a DPE shortage that has paved the way for examiners to charge exorbitant fees for their device, fail applicants for minor deviations on paperwork in order to extract even more money from those applicants while blaming their excess charges in the CFIs. The FAA should move quickly to resolve the problem by appointing more DPEs."


Checkride fees have definitely gone up in the past few years with some DPEs' checkride fees going well into the thousands of dollars range.

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