Private Pilot and Commercial Pilot FAA Knowledge Allowed Test Times Reducing Starting April 24, 2023

The FAA has recently notified the industry that there will be reductions in the allowed time for applicants taking the Private Pilot Airplane (PAR) and Commercial Pilot Airplane (CAX) FAA knowledge tests. Administrated at PSI-operated authorized testing sites, these two tests will each see applicants have a half hour less time to complete the required tests.

In the notification, the FAA noted that:

You can see the notice from the FAA at:

This means applicants will have less time during these tests to complete the number of test questions on each test, and, with the second part of the notice, more questions to complete without the knowledge of which test questions are sample validation questions and which ones count toward their final score.

Some tips for test takers here that might help.

Prioritize questions.

There will be topics and questions you know best. Get those done first. Work through the test and answer the questions you know, then return to the ones you were less confident about. You don’t have to do the test questions in the order that they pop up in the system. It is perfectly acceptable to skip and come back to questions.

Come back to questions if you have time.

Don’t get stuck on a question. If you aren’t sure, move on. Get as many questions done as you are confident you can accurately answer then come back if you have excess time to the ones you skipped. Don’t leave anything unanswered, make the best guess instead of leaving something blank, but leave questions you aren’t sure about to spend more time on later if you have leftover time

Use your time wisely.

Don’t get stuck on a question. If there is something you don’t know, move on. Come back to it later. Spend your time on the questions you know how to answer best to improve your score potential and then come back to questions you are having trouble with. The goal is to answer as many questions correctly as possible, not to waste time on questions you might find challenging.

There is a strategy to test-taking. As tests have limited time, this strategy changes. Think carefully and strategically as you take the FAA tests to ensure you get the best score possible.

Aircraft Deliveries in Flight Training Context – with 2022 Numbers

Aircraft are a critical component of the business infrastructure of flight training. If we look back in history, we used to produce LOTS more aircraft per year. But times have changed. If we look at the graph below, we see the major dropoff in production numbers for single- and multi-engine piston aircraft in the United States that happened in the early 1990’s. Our numbers never returned to that level.

And they may never. The market has changed. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that what we are currently producing will meet the needs of the flight training efforts in the United States going forward either.

When we look at more recent years, we see much lower shipment numbers of both categories. The table to the right, and the graph below, show this vividly.

This begs a question though, why?

Is there not enough demand for aircraft for large manufacturers to dedicate the production process to more aircraft? Is there not enough demand for manufacturers to invest in expanded capacity?

When we think about manufacturing production capacity, I get it. Businesses build things that they will sell more of that have the largest profit margin. If we can’t make the case in the flight training community that this is not something that we offer in our purchasing efforts, we might need to approach how we communicate with manufacturers from the flight training community better.

Many flight training providers are still using aircraft that were produced in the heavy production years from the 1970’s and 80’s. These aircraft are wearing out, they are becoming harder to maintain, and their dispatch reliability is simply less profitable than newer aircraft. As our industry transitions from these older legacy aircraft, we will need to replace them with new fleets. That means that new fleets need to be available.

Multi-engine aircraft are of specific concern for many flight training providers. While most primary training is completed in single-engine aircraft, there is still a need to get multi-engine pilot certification for career path pilot training. Many flight training providers keep piecing together old, legacy, and hard-to-maintain aircraft just to keep their multi-engine training even available. The production numbers of multi-engine aircraft are likely very short of the industry’s needs for the future.

I can’t help but think that there are opportunities here available for some manufacturer to really corner the market on the next generation of flight-training aircraft if they invest and work with the flight-training community.

Just “How Many” CFIs are We Making Lately?

I had a question asked a day ago regarding some of the data I have been publishing. It was, “I see some CFI certification issuance data you have put out, but I did I miss where you put something out about “how many” CFIs we are certifying?

It’s a fair question and one that I missed putting up so far this year!

So, here it is.

We are certainly increasing the numbers of CFI certificates issued in recent years, but this is something that I don’t think is a full answer to the question of our training capacity.

There are LOTS of CFIs, as of last year 125,075 in fact. But that doesn’t mean they are all engaged in training. Many of them are CFIs who have held the certificate for many years and keep it active so it doesn’t expire. That being said, we are “making” more CFIs per year in recent years.

The table to the right (and the graphic below) show that our certification issuance numbers have been increasing. This relates to the demand for pilots, and the use of the CFI job as a way to gain experience for many pilots seeking to qualify for airline (and other professional flying) jobs.

CFI turnover is typically pretty quick for many flight training providers, but the production of more CFIs helps the providers better fill the positions to provide training. It seems logical to think that newly certificated CFIs are likely to at least be using their certificate privileges for the upcoming year or so before they might transition to other jobs. More of these CFIs should be something that helps us keep meeting our demands for pilot training and our future professional pilot industry demands.

So, asked and provided, here are the data points of how many CFIs we are certificating in our system over recent years.

Off to the Annual for Charlie. TLC efforts underway.

After an icy-slushy crusty mix of weather the day before, it was time to take advantage of a few hours of good afternoon weather and a dried-off runway to get Charlie to where her annual inspection will happen this year.

Avoiding the Grand Rapids Class C airspace, I navigated over to the 24C airport in what is likely the last flight in Charlie for me for a few months. It was chilly, but I will miss her for a bit while she gets some TLC for the next flying year.

Charlie is going to come out with some new tires, VGs, and a new cowling from this year to freshen some things up and get her ready for a few more years of flying, hopefully with me!

We are treating this annual as a good mid-life checkup for Charlie and making sure everything isn’t just “legal”, but the goal is to reinvest a bit into her as a member of our family so we can have more years of flying fun ahead.

Ok, Charlie, behave well for the mechanic folks, and see you soon.