2023 Airman Knowledge Test Numbers Show Increase Year-to-Year, Again.

The FAA’s airman knowledge testing numbers for 2023 were just released, and to little surprise, increases in testing volume were again experienced in most categories. With active hiring, a very positive outlook on the career path being spread, and training providers ramping up to meet demand, 2023 again looks to include peak pilot production levels.

Across the most common tests, we saw increases in volume as can be seen on the following chart tracking some of the most common tests in our industry including private pilot airplane, instrument rating airplane, commercial pilot airplane, ATP multi- and single-engine airplane, CFI airplane, and sport pilot tests.

This increasing volume trend has been seen over the past few years and is an indicator that we are likely to see the same in corresponding airman certificate issuance numbers (which we will likely see out in the near future). Knowledge test volume trends historically have corresponded closely with the next step in the airman certification process, practical test volumes, and airman certificate issuances.

When we compare year to year, we see that most tests saw double-digit percentage-based increases in volumes even from 2022-2023. The only of these main tests that did not was the ATP airplane multi- and single-engine tests, although that additionally saw a significant increase. These points can be seen in this table.

These data points are just that, points, and can’t tell us everything about our industry. But they can show us that with increasing volumes flight training efforts are doing their part to continue to expand capacity to training pilots to meet future employment demands these pilots may be seeking to fill.

Sport Pilot numbers are flat, but can MOSAIC change that?

With the comment period on FAA’s MOSAIC NPRM (https://www.regulations.gov/document/FAA-2023-1377-0001) closing just yesterday, there is some hope in the industry that a final rule when issued will allow greater numbers of aircraft to be utilized effectively for sport pilot training. While we have seen very flat numbers of sport pilot testing over the past couple of decades, this potential change might finally make a change in the numbers of pilots seeking sport pilot certification. This will be an interesting point to watch over time and as a final rule is issued and becomes effective.

For those who would like to see more detailed numbers, here is a table of the issuances on a year-by-year basis and included the total FAA knowledge test volume for all tests the FAA offers.

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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.


2023 Airman Knowledge Test Numbers Show Increase Year-to-Year, Again. — 1 Comment

  1. It is great to see volume go up but I would like to know quality of training

    What I would like to see is how much over the minimum required hours applicants are passing their practical tests. I am thinking this would be higher than years past because it is low time pilots being taught by low time instructors

    Just my opinion because I know there are many applicants and instructors that soak up the information like a sponge and are able to teach and learn at a faster pace than 30 years ago when I began my flying career

    Thanks for reading my post. I look forward to the conversation