Airmen Certification Standards Seminars

September 2016

Keith Mueller GSLFIA President

The recent change from the FAA Practical Test Standards to the Airmen Certification Standards (ACS) for Private Pilots and the Instrument Rating has brought about significant controversy among instructors and students.  The prior Practical Test Standards were in existence since the 1980’s and displayed little change over many years.

 With the start of the Airmen Certification Standards, the Greater St. Louis Flight Instructor Association decided to start a series of pilot seminars at several local airports to help instructors and pilot applicants better understand the new ACS. Seminars were presented at Creve Coeur Airport, Spirit of St. Louis Airport at Air Associates, St. Louis Regional Airport at the Administration Building, St. Charles Airport at the St. Charles Flying Service facility and finally at the St. Louis Downtown Airport at the St. Louis University Flight Training Facility.  Turn out for the seminars was excellent. The seminars attracted students as well as instructors.  We were also very fortunate to have some of the area designated Pilot Examiners present to provide their views and how the check ride process would flow following the guidance within the Airmen Certification Standards guidance.

The most significant areas of change in the ACS is the ACS addition of task specific knowledge and risk elements to the prior PTS areas of operation.  The result is an integrated presentation of specific knowledge, skills and risk management elements and performance metrics for each area of operation.  The change to the ACS didn’t come without intense study and input from the industry.  The development of ACS was brought about by input from industry leaders such as Jeppesen, Embry Riddle University, King Schools, National Association of Flight Instructors and several others along with the FAA.

As flight instructors, let’s introduce the new ACS as an excellent tool to prepare our students for their pilot certification check ride utilizing it as the tool that all encompasses information needed for success.

Doing it right the first time!

Keith Mueller President GSLFIA

My first encounter with aviation was in high school.  Our school band director was also a Private Pilot and a great mentor.  He frequently spoke about aviation and flying at every opportunity.  Almost all of his aviation related comments included his focus on safety.  One item I will always remember was his statement regarding always needing to do things right the first time, airplanes can be unforgiving.  As I approached my junior year, he started an aerospace program open to juniors and seniors.  Aviation suddenly became a significant interest in school and after the first flight, as with most individuals, I was hooked.  The rest is history!

Having been involved in commercial aviation flight operations, aircraft maintenance and aviation education my entire life, I clearly see the need to maintain this philosophy on a daily basis. Aviation is not a business where corners can be cut or a lackadaisical attitude can be tolerated. Mistakes and carelessness have severe consequences and can frequently make national news. Due to the seriousness of our business,   I frequently repeat the words that my first mentor left as a clear impact on my early aviation philosophy.  With some adjustments to my first aviation instructor’s statement, I now frequently state; “Aviation is the art of doing everything right, the first time, every time, without exception”.  I firmly believe that if you live by this statement, you maintain a solid direction that keeps you focused on what you do every day.

Now working with students on a daily basis within a collegiate aviation program, it’s essential that we instill this philosophy into the minds of those we are mentoring and training. General aviation is once again starting to expand.  The need for pilots, mechanics and related aviation professionals is growing at an ever increasing rate.  As flight instructors, it’s our duty, responsibility and part of our code of ethics to insure that the new generation of aviation professionals looks at safety as their number one factor in any operation. Do it right the first time!

New Student Certificate Rules

Craig O’Mara – GSLFIA Director

Change is coming and coming soon. The new FAA Airmen Certification Standards that soon replaces the FAA Practical Test Standards for Private and Instrument is on the horizon. The release date is planned for June, that’s right, this June! For many years the FAA-S-8081-14 publication for Private Pilot Airplane was the document that outlined the certification of Private Pilot applicants. The last revision to the document was during November of 2011.

The new Airmen Certification Standards was developed with the assistance of the aviation community and it is now available for download on Material in the new FAA-ACS-8081-PA-I is posted to be effective on 15 June. Prior editions of the Private Pilot Airplane and Instrument will be obsolete at this time for airplane applicants. To this date, controversy and questions regarding changes from the aviation community are significant.

The FAA views the Airmen Certification Standards as the foundation of a transition to a more integrated and systematic approach to airmen certification as outlined in a letter by John S. Duncan, Director of Flight Standards. Referencing the publication, the changes also focuses on safety policy, safety risk management, safety assurance processes and safety promotion in the form of an ongoing engagement with both external stakeholders in the aviation community and FAA policy divisions.

To provide guidance on the changes and updates to training, the Greater St. Louis Flight Instructor Association will be sponsoring an instructor/pilot forum that outlines and discusses details on the changes contained within the Airmen Certification Standards. The forum is currently planned for more than one location in the St. Louis area, however dates are still to be determined. We are in the process of developing the curriculum that will be used within the meetings with support from local DPE’s and the FAA. Watch for FAA spans notices through the FAASTeam. If you are not receiving FAA spans messages on local aviation safety seminars and events, please register on FAA We highly encourage your students to register as well. Safety programs are vital to aviation and supported by education and training by such organizations as the G.S.L.F.I.A.

This seminar will be available for instructors, pilots and students. Your attendance is encouraged.