Becoming a Sport Pilot Examiner
Reprinted with permission from FAA
Since the new Sport
Pilot regulation was signed, a common question we have received in the FAA's
Light Sport Aviation Branch (LSAB) is, 'How do I become a Sport Pilot Examiner?'
The answer to the question is simple, but complex. Our initial response is, 'You
need to complete a Light Sport Standardization Board - Designated Pilot Examiner
Candidate Application, FAA Form 8710-12.'
The instructions are included with the
application and occupy about four pages. It is very important that the applicant
read the instructions in detail because, if the form is not filled out properly,
the application will be returned to the individual. The flight experience must
be completed with actual times and be verifiable with logbook entries or flight
records. Many applications are not accepted because the flight experience is
rounded up to the nearest 1,000s. The flight experience will be verified when an
applicant is accepted into the Sport Pilot Examiner Initial Seminar.
Once the application is received by the Light
Sport Standardization Board (LSSB), the application will be placed in the 'hold'
file for the next Board meeting. Currently, the LSSB meets once a quarter. The
LSSB reviews each application to determine the experience level of each
candidate and ranks the candidates with a numerical value. The Board places the
applicant on a list that identifies the individual in order of numerical rating
from the highest to the lowest. Applicants are sent a letter asking them to take
the appropriate airman knowledge test for the primary category/class aircraft
the applicant could be accepted as an examiner. If the applicant already holds a
flight instructor certificate, the applicant will be asked to take the Sport
Pilot Examiner test. If the individual does not hold an FAA flight instructor
certificate, the applicant will be asked to take the appropriate initial Flight
Instructor Knowledge test. Upon successful completion of the knowledge test, the
applicant will mail the original copy of the results to the LSSB. After the LSSB
receives the knowledge test report, the applicant is placed on the S port Pilot
Examiner Initial Seminar selection list.
The Sport Pilot Examiner Initial
Seminar is scheduled by the Light Sport
Standardization Branch to meet the needs of the Sport Pilot community. The
seminars are held in Oklahoma City during the summer months. The 2006 schedule
will be posted by January and will list the dates of the seminars. Attendance in
the seminars is by invitation only.
The next step in the process is the manager of
the LSAB selects six to eight applicants to become candidates for the Sport
Pilot Examiner Program. The applicants are invited to one of the scheduled
courses via a letter. Enclosed with the letter are a copy of the appropriate
Sport Pilot Practical Test Standard, a pre - course study guide, a Sport Pilot
Examiner Handbook (FAA Order 8710.7), and the location of the academic portion
of the seminar. The applicant is also advised of the aircraft that will be used
during the training. The aircraft will vary depending on the availability of
manufacturer support. If the applicant accepts the offer to enroll in the
seminar, the cost of the seminar is $150.00 for the academic portion. The
aircraft rental costs depends on the type of aircraft available.
The seminar schedule is very busy. The seminar
curriculum covers all of the subjects the examiner needs in order to perform as
a designee of the FAA Administrator. The first day begins with a review of the
appropriate regulations that the candidate will need to know in order to conduct
pilot certification. If the examiner candidate has a good background in Title 14
Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 61 then it is not as overwhelming as
someone who has minimum exposure to this regulation. After this presentation,
the examiner candidates are asked to demonstrate their knowledge as a pilot and
flight instructor. If the individuals hold an FAA pilot and flight instructor
certificate in the category and class of the examiner privileges they are
seeking, they are required to pass a validation practical test. This test is a
sampling of the examiner candidate's technical knowledge to ensure the candidate
has the ability to evaluate pilots and possibly flight instructors. If the
individual does not have an FAA pilot and/or flight instructor certificate, such
as a transition flight instructor from an FAA recognized organization, then the
examiner candidate is given an initial pilot and/or flight instructor practical
test. Beginning in 2006 an examiner candidate will not be invited to the initial
seminar unless they hold an FAA flight instructor certificate.
Upon completion of the practical test, the
course continues with lectures on the practical test standard s, FAA
certification files, and the Sport Pilot Examiner Handbook. The four
lectures up to this point in the course are used to give the examiner candidate
the basic knowledge needed in order to conduct a practical test in accordance
with FAA regulations, policy, and guidance. These tools are essential in order
to continue with the training of the examiner candidate. At this point, the
seminar changes focus to the actual certification procedures. The lecture now
covers the development of a plan-of-action that is required for every
certification evaluation. The presentation provides the procedures to be used by
the examiner candidate in developing the plan of-action. It gives helpful hints
in organizing the evaluation and conducting the oral and flight portions. The
examiner candidates are asked to develop a plan-of-action that will be used in a
practice flight portion of the practical test in their category/class aircraft.
Prior to conducting the flight portion, the instructors review the individual
plans-of action and provide feedback to the examiner candidates.
The flight portion of the practical test is
designed to give the examiner candidate the opportunity to practice evaluating
one of the FAA instructors' ability to fly an aircraft using the plan-of-action
the examiner candidate developed. Sometimes the FAA instructor is doing the best
he or she can do and still not meet the practical test standard tolerances. The
examiner candidate is expected to determine whether the maneuvers are
satisfactorily accomplished or not. The challenge for the examiner candidate is
to be able to properly determine if the standards are met. Candidates quickly
learn that gray areas do exist, but they are no longer flight instructors when
performing the role as a representative of the Administrator.
As stated previously, the last exercise for the
examiner candidates is to develop a flight instructor plan-of-action. During
this exercise, they outline the general organization of the practical test and
develop flight instructor knowledge test questions that they will use during the
oral portion of the practical test. This is probably the most challenging and
fun part of the course. The examiner candidates try to get the FAA instructor to
answer the questions at the application level. The examiner candidates learn
quickly that it is a lot harder then it appears and realize that preparation is
essential regardless of the level of certification.
At the conclusion of the seminar, the time for
designation occurs. The manager of the Light Sport Aviation Branch designates
the successful examiner candidates as Sport Pilot Examiners (SPE). If, during
the course, the instructors determine an examiner candidate has demonstrated
exceptional knowledge of the certification procedures, the instructors will
recommend the individual be designated a Sport Pilot Flight Instructor Examiner
(SFIE). An SPE conducts only pilot initial certification. SFIEs can conduct
initial flight instructor with Sport Pilot privileges evaluations.
Throughout the seminar the examiner candidates
are asked to participate in all discussions. Maximum time is spent in
hands-on-exercises with the FAA files that are associated with certification.
The examiner candidates are constantly directed to the tools that they will be
using while performing duties as an SPE and SFIE. The individuals that have
completed this program successfully have shown they are willing to work hard to
become the subject matter experts in the Sport Pilot community and willing serve
as representatives of the FAA Administrator and their respective aviation
If you have any questions about the Sport Pilot
Examiner program, please feel free to contact the Light Sport Aviation Branch in
Oklahoma City, OK, at 405-954-6400 or <firstname.lastname@example.org>. You can also
write to AFS-610, P.O. Box 25082, Oklahoma City, OK, 73125.
Martin Weaver is Manager of Flight Standards'
Light-Sport Aviation Branch.