Finding Knowledge Test Codes on Updated Knowledge Tests – ACS (AKTR) Codes

In January of 2020, the FAA began a transition to knowledge tests that will no show AKTR codes as areas found deficient instead of the previously used LSC codes.

Airman Certification Standards (ACS) Codes on AKTRs
“If the applicant takes a knowledge test covered by a current ACS, the AKTR will include ACS codes pertaining to the questions answered incorrectly. If the applicant takes a knowledge test for which the practical test standards (PTS) are still applicable,.”

For DPEs, CFIs, and applicants, this represents a change in how we all figure out what areas were found deficient in knowledge when someone takes an Airman Knowledge Test. So, to help make it more understandable, I wanted to share a little information about how to read these new codes.

How ACS Codes Work on AKTRs

Codes will be associated with the Knowledge, Skill, or Risk area in the applicable ACS to which the DPE/CFI can find the specific area of deficiency for an applicant.

With that said, lets give it a try and show you couple examples of what this would look like.

From a private pilot practical test report I saw recently, we see codes on the bottom. Picking the first one, we see it is “PA.III.A.K8”.

This code is associated with a section in Private Pilot ACS and allows us if we find that reference to determine the specific knowledge area that was found deficient (eg. the applicant got a question wrong on that topic).

It looks like this in the ACS:

So, if you want to review the proper area, you would probably visit NTSB 830 and do a little extra studying, teaching, or testing if you were the DPE giving this applicant a practical test.

Looking at another example from an Instrument Pilot Airplane Airman Knowledge Test, we might find the following:

The code, as an example, IR.IV.B.S1, would refer to the Instrument PIlot ACS and we might find it covers:

Some extra study of partial panel interpretations or just basic understanding of flight attitude instruments would be in order.

In one more example, this time from a Commercial Pilot Airplane Airman Knowledge Test, we might find:

The representative code I looked at for these example, CA.I.F.K3, would refer to the Commercial Pilot ACS and would highlight the following area for some additional study:

It is pretty easy to reference once you do it a couple times, and it gives us more detail than in the past about what specifically should be focused on for some additional study, training, and testing.

Now you know.

Hope this helps as we all work to transition to the new and improved AKTR codes on FAA Airman Knolwedge Tests!

Worth noting, LSC Codes will exist for PTS based checkrides or tests prior to January 20, 2020. These will still be present on some tests for the up to 24 months they remain valid. So, if you are working with a legacy test that shows the LSC codes, you can still find those codes here:

Need to find the ACS for an applicable test?


Some Reasons the Pilot Shortage May Be Worse Because of COVID-19

COVID-19 has put a major hiccup into our aviation system. Professional pilots are not flying and training providers are shut down and their customers have had to stop training. This is going to make the pilot shortage we have seen worse over the next couple years.

Some will say that there will be a bunch of furloughed pilots who will fill the needs when we get back up and running. On the surface, this may appear to be something that will stem the pilot shortage, but in fact, there are systemic factors that may actually exacerbate the pilot shortage when we come out of our shutdown.

Many pilots will not return to service.

In any major industry downturn that has historically seen pilots get furloughed, a certain percentage of these pilots do not return to working as airline pilots when, or if, they are called back. There are many factors that lead to this from an inability to wait out the “callback” for financial reasons, to career changing options, and many more. But this time there is a major piece that is going to affect this. Early retirement options.

Most of the major airlines are offering pilots who are above the age of 62 early retirement packages whereas they will pay out a described minimum set of hours monthly until that pilot reaches the mandatory retirement age of 65.

This makes financial sense for the airlines. It puts their most expensive (high seniority) pilots on lower hours and reduces the overall cost to the airline over those years while they can back fill those vacancies with pilots who are lower on the seniority list cost less to the airline. Continue reading

Aircraft Buying Quick Tip #4 – Don’t buy until clear title can be proven.

The broker or even the last owner may have no idea if there are any title liens on an aircraft. In many cases I have seen aircraft title searches turn up old liens that were either incorrectly or never cleared by a lending institution well in the past. In some cases the bank that held a loan and a lien on an aircraft may no longer be in business or may have been bought out by one or multiple banks over time. This can make getting a clear title to an aircraft challenging. It is less of a concern for completing a deal if a buyer is paying cash for it, but in that case it also won’t clear the previous title. The FAA won’t stop the sale of an aircraft because there is a historic lean that hasn’t been cleared, and a closed bank from 1972 isn’t going to come after you as the new buyer to pay off someone else’s incorrectly cleared loan, but it can hinder your ability to finance the aircraft or sell to a future buyer who might want to do the same. Many title companies work with aircraft records and can help you ferret out any old title liens. Clear this up prior to the purchase or be willing to do it after the purchase to avoid paperwork hurdles.

While these are some important considerations, there can be many reasons to walk away from aircraft. Don’t be afraid to do that during a buying process. You may be willing to accept added costs and take the risk if it really is the airplane you want, but take those risk only with full knowledge of for what you are signing up.

Want to learn more from practical experience
about buying your first, next, or additional aircraft?

Check out the new book from ASA, by me, Jason Blair,
An Aviators Guide to Buying an Aircraft by clicking
the book cover to the right or by clicking here.

Aircraft Buying Quick Tip #3 – Don’t assume that all ADs were complied with because the last annual said they were.

Not every mechanic knows every make and model well, and not every mechanic is as diligent in their research or has as robust of software to check all ADs on all components of the aircraft. Some of these ADs can be very costly if they have been missed and a new buyer may find themselves with a surprisingly big bill, or worse, an unairworthy aircraft after they purchase if they don’t check all of these. Just having an annual signed off isn’t good enough.

In a recent case, a friend of mine was looking at a plane and I made a couple calls to help get some history on the aircraft. Talking with another maintenance shop nearby, they said they had never seen the airplane, but that if we started looking through the logbooks and found that “Fred” had done the annuals, that we needed to look very closely. Apparently “Fred” had a reputation for pencil whipped annuals and a lack of research on ADs. The advice was well taken, and in fact, “Fred” had done the last few annuals. A pre-buy inspection by a mechanic we sent down to look at the aircraft found multiple ADs not complied with, a cracked wing rib, and multiple other things that were pretty concerning. But it had been signed off for an annual within the last month.

Not every mechanic is as diligent, as capable, or as caring. Do the homework and take the time or walk away if there are questions.

Want to learn more from practical experience
about buying your first, next, or additional aircraft?

Check out the new book from ASA, by me, Jason Blair,
An Aviators Guide to Buying an Aircraft by clicking
the book cover to the right or by clicking here.