A recent addition in FAA guidance will ask staff at local Flight Standards District Offices (FSDOs) to increase the activity of surveying applicants who took practical tests with examiners. NAFI is bringing attention to this change to help instructors become aware that their students may get calls from the FAA office to seek feedback on the applicant's experience on a practical test with the examiner. "We hope that instructors will take the time to let their students know that these calls are not bad things, the FAA calling your applicants is a positive step in attempting to help give important feedback to examiners on how they can improve their checkrides and to ensure the practical tests that they are giving are in accordance with PTS standards," said NAFI Executive Director Jason Blair. This recent change is visible in the FAA Order 8900 (which can be found at fsims.faa.gov). The specific new language indicates that FSDO staff shall seek feedback from applicants who have already completed tests, with guidance language asking the staff to:
"Conduct interviews of recently certificated pilots. These interviews are to ensure the examiner is properly following the PTS when the FAA is not in attendance. Inform interviewees that the questions are to evaluate the testing procedure and not a reexamination of their certificate. Conduct a sufficient number of interviews (at least five randomly selected airmen or 50 percent of the airmen newly certificated by the designee over the past 12 months, whichever is fewer), to provide confidence that the designee is properly conducting the test."
The FAA provides the FSDO staff with some sample questions, but each particular FSDO has the option to add alternative questions that may be applicable to specific tests or regional considerations.
NAFI hopes that instructors will educate their students that this process is becoming more common and that their feedback is valuable. Take the time to provide good feedback to help improve the service that your local examiners provide.