As part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018 the FAA was required by Congress to review Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) policies and procedures. This task was delegated to the Designated Pilot Examiner Reforms Working Group (DPERWG). This Group delivered its recommendations to the FAA in June 2021, and this research study was conducted in late January of 2022 to attempt to provide additional insights to the agency prior to its required response to the DPERWG in June of 2022.

This research project aimed to provide perceptions of the current DPE system from both DPEs and flight schools nationwide, as well as feedback on selected DPERWG recommendations. Surveys of these two populations were conducted seeking stakeholder perceptions on the current DPE system including: 1) wait times for scheduling check rides, 2) the level of activity of DPE’s, and 3) the prevalence of applicants and/or examiners traveling to check ride sites other than their home airport. Feedback on specific recommendations made by the DPERWG were also solicited including: 1) the implementation of a confidential survey applicant feedback system, 2) the possibility of moving to a national oversight model for the DPE system, 3) the perceptions of and improvements seen as necessary for the current FAA DPE locator website, 4) the possibility of treating oral and flight exams as separate events, and 5) changing medical certificate requirements for DPEs.

There were significant differences in perceptions of DPEs and flight training providers regarding the wait times incurred when scheduling check rides, but there was general consensus regarding the travel of both applicants and DPEs for the conduct of those rides. There was also consensus between the two surveyed groups regarding most of the DPERWG recommendations which were examined by the surveys.



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