FAA publishes updated Airman Certification Standards – Here’s What You Should Know

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Changes effective May 31, 2024

By now you are probably familiar with the Airman Certification Standards (ACS) which serve as the testing standards, or the examiner’s “playbook” for practical tests. In 2011, the FAA began establishing the ACS to enhance the testing standard for the knowledge and practical tests. In cooperation with an industry working group, the FAA integrated “aeronautical knowledge” and “risk management” elements into the existing areas of operations and tasks set forth in the Practical Test Standards (PTS).

Therefore, the ACS is a comprehensive presentation integrating the standards for what an applicant must know, consider, and do to demonstrate proficiency to pass the tests required for issuance of a certificate or rating.

In this latest update, effective May 31, 2024, revisions were made to the ACS as an outgrowth of public comment; however, there are no major substantive changes to the testing standards already in use or the conduct of the practical test.

 

What has changed:

The existing ACS for the airplane category were revised and multiple PTS have been converted to ACS, including:

  • FAA-S-ACS-14: Instrument Rating – Helicopter,
  • FAA-S-ACS-15: Private Pilot for Rotorcraft – Helicopter,
  • FAA-S-ACS-16: Commercial Pilot for Rotorcraft Category – Helicopter Rating,
  • FAA-S-ACS-25: Flight Instructor for Airplane Category, and
  • FAA-S-ACS-29: Flight Instructor for Rotorcraft Category – Helicopter Rating.

The FAA also published a complete ACS series for powered-lift category aircraft.

 

instructor and student

There are no major substantive changes to the testing standards already in use or the conduct of the practical test.

For all ACS, the following changes have been made:

  1. Added an introductory note in the Foreword referencing and explaining the ACS Companion Guide for Pilots.
  2. Added Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (FAA-H-8083-25) and the Risk Management Handbook (FAA-H-8083-2) as a reference in various Tasks.
  3. Replaced weather AC 00-6, AC 00-45, and AC 00-54 with the Aviation Weather Handbook (FAA-H-8083-28).
  4. Revised weather task sub-element texts to current weather products.
  5. Added legend with added ratings table acronym definitions in appendix 1, Practical Test Roles, Responsibilities, and Outcomes, where applicable.
  6. Revised acronym “KOL” to “KOEL”, as applicable.
  7. Included information related to proficiency checks and English language proficiency in the appendix 1, Practical Test Roles, Responsibilities, and Outcomes, Evaluator Responsibilities section.
  8. Edited Use of Flight Simulation Training Devices (FSTD) paragraph in appendix 3, Aircraft, Equipment, and Operational Requirements & Limitations.
  9. Standardized use of ASEL, ASES, AMEL, and AMES acronyms.
  10. Added Major Enhancements Section for existing Airplane ACS providing a key of added and archived elements.

 

Private Pilot for Airplane Category ACS

  1. Replaced phrase within PA.IV.E.K1 “on approach and landing performance” with “on takeoff and climb performance”.
  2. Revised phrase within PA.VII.C.R5 from “elevator stall” with “elevator trim stall”.
  3. Revised AOO VIII, Basic Instrument Maneuvers, Task E, Recovery from Unusual Flight Attitudes,91 PA.VIII.E.R7 element text from “High G situations” to “Operating envelope considerations”.
  4. Removed the complex airplane requirement statement from appendix 3, Aircraft, Equipment, and Operational Requirements & Limitations, Equipment Requirements & Limitations section.
  5. Adds these ACS codes:
    Airworthiness Requirements
    PA.I.B.K1e e. Owner/Operator and pilot-in-command responsibilities
    Cross-Country Flight Planning
    PA.I.D.R7 Use of an electronic flight bag (EFB), if used.
    Flight Deck Management
    PA.II.B.R3 Passenger distractions
    Engine Starting
    PA.II.C.K4 Conditions leading to and procedures for an aborted start.
    Instrument Maneuvers
    PA.VIII.A.R5 Fixation and omission.
    PA.VIII.A.R6 Instrument Interpretation.
    PA.VIII.A.R7 Control application solely by reference to instruments.
    PA.VIII.A.R8 Trimming the aircraft.
    Emergency Equipment
    PA.IX.D.K4 When to deploy a ballistic parachute and associated passenger briefings, if equipped.
    PA.IX.D.K5 When to activate an emergency auto-land system and brief passengers, if equipped.

 

Instrument Rating – Airplane ACS

  1. Added note to AOO I, Preflight Preparation, Task C, Cross-Country Flight Planning, regarding use of a computer-generated flight plan.
  2. Removed instructor designation within appendix 1, Practical Test Roles, Responsibilities, and Outcomes, Instrument Proficiency Check.

 

Commercial Pilot for Airplane Category ACS

  1. Added 14 CFR 119.1(e) as a reference to the AOO I, Preflight Preparation, Task A, Pilot Qualifications.
  2. Replaced phrase within CA.IV.E.K1 “on approach and landing performance” with “on takeoff and climb performance”.
  3. Added CA.VI.B.S5 element.
  4. Revised phrase within CA.VII.C.R5 from “elevator stall” with “elevator trim stall”.
  5. Removed the complex airplane requirement statement from appendix 3, Aircraft, Equipment, and Operational Requirements & Limitations, Equipment Requirements & Limitations section.

 

What can you do to become familiar with the ACS and changes?

Review the final rule and preamble for changes made to the ACS and PTS

Review FAA Notice 8900.691, Airman Certification Standards and Practical Test Standards for Airmen; Incorporation by Reference

Review existing ACS publications and the ACS Companion Guide for Pilots

 

landings

Eric Radtke