It is far too early to tell a great deal from FAA data available, but with a little help from some data shared with industry members from a couple of FAA offices, we can certainly see that the impact on practical test due to COVID-19 has slowed, and also may be showing recovery from the effects of COVID-19.
One early indicator that has been shared is the tracking of FAA practical test activity as it is delivered by FAA DPEs.
It is a short comparison, but if we look at the overall volume of DPE issued practical tests, and compare some of the same date periods from 2020 to last year, 2019, we see an obvious decrease in the number of tests conducted. Worth note, the data here is somewhat limited and I am providing what I have, so full comparisons may not be available that tell the full year-to-year story. But even with that said, some indications and trends that at least tell part of the story seem to be evident.
The chart above shows an obvious drop in testing volume in 2020 compared to the first part of February moving into March and April as the United States experienced nationwide shutdowns and restrictions. Continue reading
Training CFI applicants? Working to make sure you as a CFI have the most up-to-date information for your teaching efforts?
Then make sure you have the most current version of the FAA’s Aviation Instructor’s Handbook. The biggest changes to this document were the reorganization of some chapters, updating references from “Practical Test Standards” to “Airman Certification Standards”, and the addition of a chapter on “Teaching Practical Risk Management During Flight Instructions.”
This document was recently updated and released on June 2, 2010.
Dateline 6-7-2020 – 1 Year to the Day Charlie had a “Hiccup”.
Happily, after much work, Charlie has returned to her hangar after some successful flight tests, after much work!
A freshly overhauled carburetor (that really seemed to need it by the amount of crap that was found in it and the sticky float), 5 cylinders off and reworked, and multiple attempts at working intake leads that went with all this work and it was time to again try to bring Charlie back home.
A friend picked me up with his Stinson and we headed down to KBEH where we arrived to find that one of our fellow pilots down there (under the guidance of our mechanic) was doing one more test flight before we got there. Charlie was currently level at 10,000 MSL and headed back home!
Escorted home from KBEH to 35D, fellow Stinson owner and friend Bruce managed to capture a picture in the air with Lake Michigan in the background, proving that flight did again happen for Charlie. Even better, with me successfully at the controls again.
Every year when the FAA issues the previous year’s Airman Certification Statistics, I get a little giddy. I know. I’m a dork. But someone has to be, so it’s me. Well, and there are a few others in our industry who do the same. You know who you are. 🙂
This data helps me get a feeling for what our airman certification process, and as a result, our pilot supply pipeline is doing.
With that, I try to pick out some of the highlights and draw attention to them as I see them and ask for input from others.
So, last week, the FAA issued the numbers, and since them, I have been playing with my spreadsheets and seeing how the new data compares with previous years and what it might mean for our aviation system.
So, on to the numbers and some of the things that I have noticed that might be of interest or telling about the state of our pilot training and certification process.
Overall, Pilot Certification Numbers Across all Certificates are Rebounding
Looking back over the past two decades, we generally were seeing a decreasing number of total pilot certification numbers. In the last two years, these have increased again and are trending toward more moderated 20 year trends.