DPE’s Get FAA Attention

There aren't enough pilot examiners to meet demand, and the agency is working on reforms.


As international supply chain issues in 2022 continue to affect the world economy, they also can be easy to ignore. Until something you need isn’t readily available in a timely fashion. So it is—and has been—with the FAA’s designated pilot examiner (DPE) cadre. The DPEs necessary for an FAA pilot certificate practical test can are in great demand, especially in certain good-weather regions, and scheduling them weeks in advance is the norm. Thanks to a provision in the 2018 FAA reauthorization bill, the agency formed a Designated Pilot Examiner Reforms Working Group to examine ways to improve the DPE system and make it more accessible and efficient.

In 2021, the working group issued a report with 12 recommendations to its parent FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee. Now, the FAA has formally responded and, according to AOPA, already is implementing some of the working group’s recommendations.

“The FAA noted that improvement and enhancements are currently underway and agreed there is room to improve the tool used by flight schools and pilots to find a qualified examiner who can administer a practical test,” the association said. The AOPA article added, “The FAA also concurred with a related recommendation to develop standardized tools to enhance efficiency and accuracy, and to solicit feedback directly from DPEs, as well as the flight schools and pilots who hire them.”

“For several years, the pilot community has voiced consistent concerns with the lack of availability of examiners across the country,” AOPA Senior Director of Regulatory Affairs Christopher Cooper said. “Although some programs have provided relief, such as the removal of geographical boundaries, designee availability continues to be a challenge. To ensure the future growth of the pilot population, especially with increased demand for flight training, additional reform is needed to ensure an adequate number of designees are available. AOPA appreciates the FAA’s consideration and response to the working group’s recommendations, and we remain committed to working with the FAA and pilot community to implement these urgently needed improvements as soon as possible.”

Sullenberger Steps Down From ICAO Post

Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger III, captain of an Airbus A320 who was forced to ditch in the Hudson River off Manhattan on January 15, 2019, announced he was stepping down as U.S. Ambassador to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as of July 5. No reason for the decision was given. Sullenberger was nominated by President Biden in 2021 and was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. He assumed his ICAO duties in February 2022.


As key players in the continuing saga of 5G cellular service interference with airborne radar altimeters confronted a July 5 deadline, a partial extension of the status quo was agreed to. Aviation International News (AIN) quoted FAA acting administrator Billy Nolen as saying, “We believe we have identified a path that will continue to enable aviation and 5G C-band wireless to safely coexist. We appreciate the willingness of Verizon and AT&T to continue this important and productive collaboration with the aviation industry.”

Aircraft with radar altimeters particularly susceptible to 5G interference are to be retrofitted by the end of 2022, and the FAA will work with the cellular carriers to further refine the list of locations where the interference is especially critical. According to AIN, both sides expect ongoing efforts to culminate in July 2023.


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