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Working group making progress on DPE system reforms

The Designated Pilot Examiner Reforms Working Group, established in 2019, expects to bring its recommendations to the second quarter meeting of the FAA’s Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee, said Christopher Cooper, AOPA senior director of regulatory affairs who chairs one of the working group’s three subcommittees. 

The working group met in mid-February, focusing on goals of improving the selection, training, and deployment of the FAA’s DPEs. It approached the tasks with a blend of systemic innovations and enhancements of the system’s existing framework, he said.

Cooper noted that although progress on the working group’s agenda was slowed by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic throughout 2020, the panel nonetheless “made great strides” working virtually toward its 2021 completion.

AOPA has long advocated upgrading the DPE system, and supports the measures the FAA is taking to modernize the examination-administration process that the majority of pilots depend on for practical tests.

In 2020, we established a six-member AOPA Designated Pilot Examiner Advisory Board to guide AOPA’s evaluation of the recommendations on which the system’s overhaul will be based. Cooper chairs the panel, whose other members include Catherine Cavagnaro, an aerobatics instructor and professor of mathematics at Sewanee: The University of the South; David St. George, a master flight instructor, working charter pilot, and executive director of the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators; Alan Miller, an Airbus A320 pilot with Delta Air Lines; Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Adjunct Assistant Professor Janeen Kochan, who holds a doctorate in applied experimental and human factors psychology from the University of Central Florida in Orlando and is a former Boeing 767 captain and human-factors instructor for a major U.S. airline; and Doug Rozendaal, a veteran warbird and aerobatic pilot.

Professional standards and guidelines for safety and ethical behavior were also the focus of a recently announced Designated Pilot Examiners Model Code of Conduct,  the latest in a series of such documents released by the Aviators Code Initiative, which noted that the codes are “living documents intended to be updated periodically to reflect changes in aviation practices and the aviation environment.”

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