The subject of the PTS also offers the CFI an opportunity to discuss the role of the examiner who plays an important role in the FAA’s mission of promoting aviation safety by administering FAA practical tests for pilot and flight instructor certificates and associated ratings. To satisfy the need for pilot testing and certification services, the FAA delegates certain of these responsibilities to private individuals who are not FAA employees.
Appointed in accordance with 14 CFR section 183.23, a designated pilot examiner (DPE) is an individual who meets the qualification requirements of the Pilot Examiner’s Handbook, Order 8710.3, and who:
• Is technically qualified.
• Holds all pertinent category, class, and type ratings for each aircraft related to their designation.
• Meets requirements of 14 CFR part 61, sections 61.56, 61.57, and 61.58, as appropriate.
• Is current and qualified to act as pilot in command (PIC) of each aircraft for which they are authorized.
• Maintains at least a third-class medical certificate if required.
• Maintains a current flight instructor certificate, if required.
Designated to perform specific pilot certification tasks on behalf of the FAA, a DPE may charge a reasonable fee. Generally, a DPE’s authority is limited to accepting applications and conducting practical tests leading to the issuance of specific pilot certificates and/or ratings. The majority of FAA practical tests at the private and commercial pilot level are administered by DPEs, following FAA provided test standards.
DPE candidates must have good industry reputations for professionalism, integrity, a demonstrated willingness to serve the public, and adhere to FAA policies and procedures in certification matters. The FAA expects the DPE to administer practical tests with the same degree of professionalism, using the same methods, procedures, and standards as an FAA aviation safety inspector (ASI).