Government Shutdown Effects on FAA Pilot Testing (etc.)

Round three of government shutdowns affect on FAA pilot testing activities. While some of the information is still coming on on the effects, this has been experienced before (in 2013, and a short version in January of 2018). Back in those, I shared what the effects were, so I am sharing them again here to the best of my knowledge. all over again.

We all are hoping that the government shutdown will be over soon, but in the meantime, a few effects that will be felt during any continued government shutdown on airman testing, training, or certification:

FAA Knowledge Tests Halted

UPDATE: 1-3-2018

PSI / CATS, the provider of FAA knowledge tests has provided notification that “we have been authorized to resume FAA Airman Knowledge Testing. However, please be advised that during this shutdown, we cannot guarantee that results will be accurately processed after Airman Knowledge Testing data is transferred to the FAA.”

The practical application of this is that knowledge tests will allow an applicant to qualify for a practical test, but since it is unlikely to sync to the master FAA database, any practical test would not be able to be done using IACRA and would have to be done using a paper 8710 form with the DPE. 

FAA knowledge test providers typically are not able to continue providing “written” tests due to the fact that their systems must interrogate data to and from FAA systems that are not running during a shutdown. We have had a couple reports today that these have been unavailable that support this statement again.

This means that anyone that has not already completed their FAA knowledge tests before this time will not be able to do so until the government staff has returned. This effectively stops applicants who are pursuing training to have the ability to become eligible for practical tests that require any FAA knowledge tests.

In the interim, training can certainly continue for pilot seeking ratings or certificates by instruction providers except for taking of their knoweldge tests.

FAA Practical Tests

As of the writing of this no indication of any stoppage of (most) practical test administration has been given. In fact, it has been directly conveyed to and noted by FSANA that “Airman Practical Testing May Continue during Government Shutdown when conducted by Designees” in a news story that was put on on December 24, 2018. Click Here for the Article.

Should IACRA become unavailable for any reason, it is possible that examiners can continue to process applications in paper format. Applicants and instructors should continue to monitor this situation and confirm the best way to process with the DPE prior to the administration of any tests.

Part 135 Line Checks

While not specifically pilot training related, any charter operators who have line checks scheduled with FAA staff should plan on them not happening while any government shutdown is taking place. When they do get back to the office, some scheduling catch up may be needed. It would be a good idea for any operators who need any oversight activities to keep their operation going to start planning ahead and during any shutdown to evaluate which of their pilots (if any) may have any currency expire during any interim time.

Delayed Processing of Certification Paperwork

While the FAA staff is out on furlough, it is assumed that any practical test applications will be placed “in the in-basket” and await final processing by FAA staff (at the local FSDOs or in Oklahoma City as appropriate) until staff returns. While we typically see processing times for practical tests between 60-90 days, the FAA does allow for the temporary airman certificates granted by DPEs when completing practical tests validity for up to 120 days. It is possible that the furlough will create further delays in this processing (hopefully we will not see a shutdown of the government itself for this length of time).

The last time this happened, the FAA’s processing did get a little behind when they got back to work, and it did cause some certificates to be delayed. In a few cases, this caused pilot’s who had temporary airman certificates to have them expire prior to receiving their new plastic certificates.

Should any pilots who have received a temporary airman certificate find that their temporary certificates are going to expire it may not be possible to schedule an appointment with an FSDO to issue a continuance of a temporary airman certificate. Pilots should note that if they have been issued a temporary airman certificate, their previous airman certificate is no longer valid and any expired temporary airman certificate (unless otherwise extended by the FAA) will become invalid for use after 120 days. Any pilots who have expiring temporary airman certificates should contact their local FSDOs (when they are back in the office) to schedule a time to extend them if their permanent airman certificate becomes delayed due to the furlough/government shutdown.

This may also be required after the shutdown as they catch up on processing. Keep an eye on any expiration dates and make sure any temporary certificates have not expired if you are going to operate.

FAA Seminars

A little less critical, but anyone planning on attending FAA Safety Team seminars that are being conducted by FAA staff members should probably plan on them not happening. While this may not seem overly critical, it may have an effect on anyone hoping to use these trainings for any currency or training purposes. keep an eye on the schedule.

This is the best understanding that I can share of these effects right now. If I get any more, I will update this and provide it. Hopefully, we will all be back to business as normal very soon..

If anyone has different information, please let me know.

Posted in Aviation permalink

About Jason Blair

Jason Blair is an active single and multiengine instructor and an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner with over 6,000 hours total time, over 3,000 hours of instruction given, and more than 3000 hours in aircraft as a DPE. In his role as Examiner, over 2,000 pilot certificates have been issued. He has worked for and continues to work with multiple aviation associations with the work focusing on pilot training and testing. His experience as a pilot and instructor spans nearly 20 years and includes over 100 makes and models of aircraft flown. Jason Blair has published works in many aviation publications with a focus on training and safety.


Government Shutdown Effects on FAA Pilot Testing (etc.) — 5 Comments

  1. Thanks for the update Jason. This is really a problem for the students that are ready to take written tests and not able to proceed. This is a written test that should be able to be taken and not hold up a student from progression! Written tests are handled by a 3rd party …. then into the FAA system, I don’t understand the reason for no written tests? Hurting flight schools more…

    • You are definitely correct that this represents a delay and blockage for students who need to take the knowledge tests. The challenge is structural in this case. While a third party (an Orgnizational Delgation Authorization entity) administrates the tests, they are still generated by an FAA process. Each day those testing centers (and the ODA as their providing agency) must receive and send interrogated data with the FAA system to continue the delivery of the tests at each of their sites (at least on the days they are conducting tests). When the government is shut down, like it is now, that system at the FAA is not active for the ODA (PSI in this case) to send and receive data for tests to be given and tests that were given to be reported back to the FAA for certification practices. So, without that system, unfortunately we are not able to give those knowledge tests until that system is back up (when the government is back at work). I know it can be frustrating, but hopefully that helps give a little more of the back story for you and anyone reading this!

  2. Pingback: More Details to the Shutdown's Impacts on FAA | JDA Journal

  3. Pingback: 93 San Jose’s GA Reliever, Reid-Hillview Airport, Threatened by Closure + GA News – Aviation News Talk