I’m From the FAA and I’m Here to Help You!
By Earl Downs
My title statement almost sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but in this case, it’s true. Pilot training is increasing to the point that the FAA is seeking to make Designated Pilot Examiner’s more readily available for those who need to take a Practical Exam (checkride). In my part of the country, it sometimes takes as long as six or seven weeks to be scheduled for a checkride with an examiner. Now, It looks like help is on the way!
Effective April 1, 2019, The FAA expanded my designation as a sport pilot Examiner to include examining authority for private pilot, commercial pilot, instrument rating, and CFI certification. I have also been approved to perform Practical Tests for the multiengine rating, and ATP certification, but I am not exercising these authorizations.
The sport pilot rules came alive in August 2004, and in February of the next year, I became the 10th person in the U.S. to be authorized to administer sport pilot checkrides under the supervision of the FAA Special Examiner Branch (AFS 610). This could lead to the question of, “how does testing sport pilots qualify me to perform all of these other examinations?”
The answer to this question is that administering these other practical tests is not new to me. Years ago I was designated by the FAA to perform all of these additional checkrides and I performed about 1,000 of them before I joined the training department at Trans World Airlines. The airline discouraged extracurricular aviation activities by management personnel, so I discontinued performing as an FAA Designated Flight Examiner (I did continue flight instructing and never got caught).
After I left the airline and moved to Oklahoma to open my FBO at Cushing Regional Airport, my attempts to revive my previously held examining authority to include more certificates and ratings did not bring a positive response. However, the FAA head-shed recently recognized that the lack of designated examiners was causing a “checkride crunch,” and AFS 610 was advised that they could allow their special examiners to move into other examining classifications if they were qualified. I was qualified, so here I am!
About Designated Examiners
The FAA simply does not have enough personnel to run around performing all of the pilot checkrides that need to be administered. So, they designate private individuals to do that job for them. All designated examiners operate as private individuals or businesses, but they fall under strict FAA guidance and qualification requirements.
Cost For a Practical Test
The FAA does not set the prices a Designated Pilot Examiner may charge for acting in their stead. So, charges are based on what each individual examiner determines is right for him or her. My following fees are subject to change:
Sport Pilot - $400.00
Private Pilot - $525.00
Commercial Pilot - $550.00
Instrument Rating -$525.00
CFI Initial - $800 (Click here for special information regarding the CFI initial checkride).
CFII Ad-on - $500
Category/class Add-on to an existing certificate - $375 (This could vary)
These fees are based on the test being administered at Cushing Regional Airport
Payment by Cash, Check, and Credit card (A Credit card additional fee will be applied)
About Cushing Regional Airport (CUH)
Cushing Regional Airport is a great place for taking a checkride. The paved runway at this non-towered airport is 5,200 feet long and it has three turf runways. With two GPS approaches at Cushing, and Stillwater Airport (SWO) only 20 miles away (Tower, ILS, VOR and GPS approaches), we can spend productive time on the checkride without the hassle of time-consuming high-density traffic.
The testing facility offers a warm and friendly atmosphere in the airport terminal building. We are aware that testing can be a tense time, and we do everything possible to make you feel comfortable and welcome. The testing facility is spacious; it provides a large table for laying out your testing materials, and CFI applicants will appreciate the whiteboard and markers that may be used for performing training presentations.