What & Why

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Airman Certification Standards (ACS)Frequently Asked Questions for Applicants, Instructors, and EvaluatorsWhat & WhyWhat is the ACS?Why is the FAA making this change?What is the problem the FAA is trying to solve?What’s wrong with the Practical Test Standards (PTS)?Why not just create a Knowledge Test Standard, or KTS?Why not just fix the knowledge test and leave the rest alone?Why have a separate section on risk management?Why is the FAA adding knowledge and risk management elements to the practical test?Why do some of the private pilot airplane ACS Areas of Operation/Tasks look different?Why did the FAA modify the slow flight task?Isn’t the real problem related to deficient stick-and-rudder skills?Why does the FAA have three different exams for most FAA airman certifications?What are the letters and numbers beside each ACS task element?Why not just keep the “PLT” Learning Statement Codes (LSC)?How do I use ACS codes?Why aren’t the ACS codes available right now?Will ACS codes direct me to the right reference?Why didn’t the FAA use a formal rulemaking process for the ACS?Why does the ACS use the term “airman?”Why does the ACS use the term “evaluator?Does the ACS have any connection with FAA/Industry Training Standards (FITS)?WhenWhen does the ACS take effect?When do the knowledge tests change to the ACS?When will the FAA update the online sample tests for the knowledge test?When is the FAA going to expand the ACS to other certificates and ratings?When can we expect to see ACS codes printed on the Airman Knowledge Test Report?1rev 171001

Airman Certification Standards (ACS)Frequently Asked Questions for Applicants, Instructors, and EvaluatorsWhat is the ACS revision schedule?HowHow is the ACS better?How does the ACS improve the knowledge test?How does the ACS change the practical test?How does the ACS link standards to guidance and test questions?How does the FAA keep the testing of risk management items from being subjective?Why is the ACS so much bigger than the PTS?How can the FAA say the test won’t be longer when the ACS is so much bigger?How does the ACS affect the conduct of the flight review and the Instrument ProficiencyCheck?How was the ACS developed?Where did the knowledge elements come from?Where did the risk management elements come from?Where did the skill elements come from?What is industry’s role in the test question development and review process?How much did it cost to develop and implement the ACS?How does the FAA know the ACS will work?Who was involved in the prototype?Where did the ACS prototype take place?How many people were involved?What was the outcome of the prototype?How can I learn more about the ACS?WhoWho created the ACS?What are all these acronyms (ARC, ARAC, ATST WG, ACS WG)?How were these people selected?What expertise do they have?2rev 171001

Airman Certification Standards (ACS)Frequently Asked Questions for Applicants, Instructors, and EvaluatorsUsing the ACSI’m an applicant. How do I use the ACS?I’m already in training. How will the change affect me?Will I have to take a new “ACS knowledge test?”Will the ACS make my training harder?Will the ACS make my checkride longer?Will the ACS make my training more expensive?Does the ACS require me to do my flight training as part of an integrated program?How do I interpret the ACS codes?When will I see ACS codes on my Airman Knowledge Test Report?How do I use the ACS to prepare for the knowledge test?How will I use the ACS to prepare for the practical test?Are knowledge and risk management elements a new requirement for applicants todemonstrate during the practical test?I want to complete my ground school ahead of flight training. Does the ACS require me tocomplete my training as an integrated program?I’m an instructor. How do I use the ACS?How do I use the ACS to teach and train?How will the ACS change the way I teach ground school?How will the ACS change the way I conduct flight training?What resources do I have to teach risk management?What do I do with students who are already training when the ACS takes effect?How do I interpret the ACS codes?When will I see ACS codes on the applicant’s Airman Knowledge Test Report (AKTR)?If I can’t see ACS codes on the AKTR, how do I conduct remedial training?When can we expect to see other certificates and ratings transition to the ACS?What is the difference between the ACS and a training syllabus?Does the ACS continue to require scenario-based training?I’m a DPE. How do I use the ACS?3rev 171001

Airman Certification Standards (ACS)Frequently Asked Questions for Applicants, Instructors, and EvaluatorsHow do I use the ACS to conduct a practical test?How do I test applicants who did some or all of their flight training under the PTS?How do I interpret the ACS codes?When will I see ACS codes on the applicant’s Airman Knowledge Test Report?If I can’t see ACS codes on the Airman Knowledge Test Report (AKTR), how do I conductappropriate retesting?Does the ACS continue to require “scenario-based testing?What happened to the special emphasis items?What resources do I have to test risk management?Will IACRA support the ACS?Should I use ACS codes on the Notice of Disapproval?Is the FAA going to update DPE guidance to reflect the ACS?I have a part 141 school. How do I use the ACS?Do you have a question not addressed here? Do you have suggestions for improving the ACS? If so,please contact the ACS Focus Team ([email protected]).For updates to this information, please subscribe to the FAA website’s Airman Testing page by clickingon the “subscribe” link in the upper right hand corner.4rev 171001

Airman Certification Standards (ACS)Frequently Asked Questions for Applicants, Instructors, and EvaluatorsWhat is the ACS?The ACS is an enhanced version of the Practical Test Standards (PTS). It adds task-specific knowledge andrisk management elements to each PTS Area of Operation and Task. The result is a comprehensivepresentation that integrates the standards for what an applicant needs to know, consider, and do inorder to pass both the knowledge test and the practical test for a certificate or rating. [back]Why is the FAA making this change?The ACS started in 2011 as an effort to fix the airman knowledge tests. Too many knowledge testquestions were outdated or irrelevant to the knowledge and skill needed to operate in today’s NAS.Working with aviation training industry experts, we concluded that we could not effectively fix theknowledge test without taking a systematic approach to the airman certification system. The ACS: Offers a comprehensive and integrated presentation of the standards for what an applicant needs toknow, consider, and do to pass both the knowledge and practical tests for a certificate or rating. Connects specific, appropriate knowledge and risk management elements to specific skills. Thislinkage enhances the relevance of the testing/training process for adult learners by clearly answeringthe “why do I need to know that?!” question. Enhances safety by using the risk management section in each ACS Area of Operation to translatespecial emphasis items and abstract terms like “aeronautical decision-making” into specificbehaviors relevant to each task. Eliminates “bloat” by consolidating duplicative or overlapping tasks in the existing Practical TestStandards (PTS). Enables the FAA to create and maintain a clear link between the regulations, knowledge/riskmanagement/skill performance standards, guidance, and test materials. [back]What is the problem the FAA is trying to solve?The knowledge test is an important component of the airman certification process. It is intended tomeasure an applicant’s understanding of the rules, regulations, and knowledge areas required to earn anFAA airman certificate.Unfortunately, many viewed the knowledge test as deeply flawed because it included too manyquestions that were considered to be overly broad, overly complex, trivial, outdated, and sometimesirrelevant. Consequently, the knowledge test was often regarded as a rote memorization exercise thathad no real value for aviation safety education and training, and little (if any) connection to real worldoperations in today’s National Airspace System (NAS).The root cause of these problems was the lack of a “knowledge test standard” (KTS) corresponding to thePractical Test Standards, which the FAA developed years ago as a means to define acceptableperformance of the “flight proficiency” (skills) that 14 CFR part 61 specifies for each certificate andrating. Rather than develop a separate KTS, the industry group recommended that the FAA address thisdeficiency by integrating required “aeronautical knowledge” and risk management elements into theexisting PTS Areas of Operation/Tasks. This integrated document is called the Airman CertificationStandards, or ACS. [back]5rev 171001

Airman Certification Standards (ACS)Frequently Asked Questions for Applicants, Instructors, and EvaluatorsWhat’s wrong with the Practical Test Standards (PTS)?The PTS primarily provides metrics to define acceptable performance of the “flight proficiency” skillslisted in 14 CFR part 61 for a given certificate or rating. Most people believe that the PTS generally servesits intended purpose but, like all such documents, it has become bloated over the years with an everexpanding list of “special emphasis” items, repetitive or overlapping Areas of Operation/tasks, andpoorly-defined additional requirements (e.g., evaluation of the applicant’s risk management andaeronautical decision-making skills). [back]Why not just create a Knowledge Test Standard, or KTS?In September 2011, the FAA convened a group of industry experts to recommend ways to fix theknowledge test. This group – the Airman Testing Standards and Training Aviation Rulemaking Committee(ATST ARC) – quickly determined that there is no way to fix the knowledge test in a meaningful andsustainable way without having a knowledge test standard akin to the Practical Test Standards (PTS).The ARC considered proposing a “Knowledge Test Standards” (KTS) document that would be theknowledge test companion to the skill-focused PTS. The ARC discarded this approach as unworkable,fearing that creation of separate KTS documents could result in divergence between the KTS and the PTS,burden stakeholders with an additional set of documents, and require a greater expenditure of FAAresources to develop, deploy, and maintain a full range of KTS documents. [back]Why not just fix the knowledge test and leave the rest alone?Working with aviation training industry experts, the FAA concluded that we could not effectively fix theknowledge test without taking a systematic approach to the airman certification system: We needed to develop clear standards for the aeronautical knowledge elements listed in theregulations, and to make sure that knowledge reflects things airmen really need to know for safeoperation in the NAS.We needed to build specific, observable behaviors for risk management and aeronauticaldecision-making into the standard.We needed to consolidate overlapping Tasks in the PTS, and do something to connect the many“special emphasis” items listed in the PTS introduction to actual Areas of Operation and Tasks.We needed to connect the standards for knowledge, risk management, and skill to FAAhandbooks, to knowledge test questions, and to the practical test, which is the “final exam” forsomeone seeking an airman certificate or rating. [back]Why have a separate section on risk management?The Practical Test Standards (PTS) already require evaluation of the applicant’s risk managementabilities, but the existing document does not offer the kind of concrete “how do I do that?” guidancethat users need and deserve. The rationale for including a risk management section in the ACS is toenhance safety by translating abstract terms into specific safety behaviors relevant to each task. The ACSis also intended to communicate and demonstrate that risk management is a continuous process thatincludes identification, assessment, and mitigation of task-specific hazards that create risk. The riskmanagement element identifies the circumstantial issues that aviators must consider in association witha particular task. [back]6rev 171001

Airman Certification Standards (ACS)Frequently Asked Questions for Applicants, Instructors, and EvaluatorsWhy is the FAA adding knowledge and risk management elements to the practical test?These are not new requirements. The PTS has long required the evaluation of knowledge and riskmanagement elements in both the ground and flight portions of the practical test. The ACS provides abetter tool because it clearly defines these elements and organizes them in the context of phases offlight. [back]Why do some of the private pilot airplane ACS Areas of Operation/Tasks look different?The majority of the private pilot airplane ACS Areas of Operation and Tasks are not very different fromhow they appear in the PTS. Some have been renamed, reorganized, or combined with others. Here’s asummary of these changes: PTS Sections 1 (Single-Engine) and 2 (Multi-Engine) Airplane have been combined into a singleACS document. Tasks are identified with ASEL, ASES, AMEL, AMES so applicants know whichtasks apply to the desired rating. A task without these identifiers applies to all applicants.PTS Special Emphasis Items have been removed and incorporated into the relevant Task(s).PTS Task Certificates and Documents is now called Pilot Qualification.PTS Task Aeromedical Factors is now called Human FactorsPTS Task Water and Seaplane Characteristics and Task Seaplane Bases, Maritime Rules and Aidsto Marine Navigation have been combined into a single task.PTS Task Preflight Inspection is now called Preflight Assessment.PTS Task Runway Incursion Avoidance task has been removed, with relevant task elementsincorporated into the Taxiing, Traffic Patterns, Takeoff, and Landing tasks.PTS Task Airport/Seaplane Base,