Ask any pilot certificated before now about what their ground training was like, and you are likely to hear about all the overly complex or downright silly things they had to “study” to pass the FAA knowledge test. I personally remember the frustration of trying to master wingtip bearing references, and doing multiple interpolations across several hard-to-read graphics to calculate a two-knot difference in the wind velocity … at an altitude I could never reach in a typical GA airplane.
That’s why I also used to start every ground school course I taught by saying that I planned to teach my students not only what they needed to pass the FAA knowledge (“written”) test but, more importantly, to impart the material they really would need to know to pass the “real life” test.
Thanks to the newly-implemented Airman Certification Standards (ACS) approach, the subjects you need to study to pass the knowledge test are now connected not only to skills you must master for the practical test, but also to the complete set of things you need to know, consider, and do in “real life” flying activities. That’s a major improvement for aspiring private and instrument pilots. Over the next couple of years, the ACS will include the commercial, ATP, and instructor certificates on the pilot side, and the airframe and powerplant certificates for aviation maintenance technicians.
Training and Testing Resources
The ACS provides better guideposts on the primary avenues to aviation, but you can also benefit from perusing the many resources on the FAA website’s Airman Testing web page (www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/).
Here are some of the “guideposts” that are just a mouse click away — and available at no cost.
- Airman Certification Standards — www.faa. gov/training_testing/testing/acs/. This page provides background, FAQs, and the final ACS for the private pilot airplane certificate, the instrument-airplane rating, and the remote pilot certificate (UAS).
- Practical Test Standards — www.faa.gov/ training_testing/testing/test_standards/. The ACS will eventually apply to all airman certificates and ratings, but this page provides access to the Practical Test Standards (PTS) for everything not yet transitioned to the ACS.
- Reference Handbooks — www.faa.gov/ regulations_policies/handbooks_manuals/. This page provides links to all the official FAA resources for training and testing, including the FAA-H-series handbooks. Of particular note is the latest edition of the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (FAA-H-8083-25B), which reflects updates recommended by aviation training industry experts in the ACS Working Group. By the time you read this issue of FAA Safety Briefing, publication of the substantially revised Airplane Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-3B) will be imminent.
- Testing Resources — www.faa.gov/training_ testing/testing/. There are a number of helpful “guideposts” available through this page. For instance: What’s New and Upcoming in Airman Testing (www.faa.gov/training_testing/ testing/media/whats_new_general.pdf) lists topics and types of questions no longer included in FAA knowledge tests.
- Knowledge Test Sample Questions – www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/ test_questions/.
- Frequently Asked Questions — www.faa. gov/training_testing/testing/media/ questions_answers.pdf. Separate from the ACS-specific FAQs, this document addresses a broad range of questions on airman certification, testing, and training.
Visit Often … and Subscribe
Anyone involved in aviation training and testing can benefit from the extensive information offered through these and the many other links you will see when you visit the Airman Testing page. Please visit often or, better yet, click on the “subscribe” link in the upper right corner to receive an email notice of updates to these resources.
Happy surfing! (FAA Safety Briefing – SepOct 2016)