What the Government Shutdown Means for FAA Knowledge/Practical Tests
We all are hoping that the government shutdown will be over soon, but in the mean time, a few things that are important for instructors and examiners to know:
FAA Knowlege Tests Halted
– FAA knowledge test providers have been notified that they will no longer be able to give FAA knowledge tests after the close of business Friday 10/4/13 until the staff who oversee this operation at the FAA are brought back to work.
This means that anyone that has not already completed their FAA knowledge tests before this time will not be able to do so until the government staff has returned. This effectively stops applicants who are pursuing training to have the ability to become eligible for practical tests that require any FAA knowledge tests.
This will represent a stoppage in the training flow of the U.S. pilot training until knowledge tests are again allowed.
In the interim, training can certainly continue for pilot seeking ratings or certificates by instruction providers except for taking of their knoweldge tests.
FAA Practical Tests
As of the writing of this no indication of any stoppage of practical test administration has been given. It is presumed that FAA Designated Pilot Examiners will be able to continue to administer practical tests while FAA staff is on furlough.
Most of these tests are conducted through the use of the IACRA systeam, a system that is maintained by the FAA. At this time there has been no indication that this system will turned off during during the shutdown. It is a natural assumption that even if this system is left on during the shutdown, that should any problems arise that cause the system to fail that no staff would be there to fix the problems. We will all hope that it will continue to work through the shutdown.
Should IACRA become unavailable for any reason, it is possible that examiners can continue to process applications in paper format. Applicants and instructors should continue to monitor this situation and confirm the best way to process with the DPE prior to the administration of any tests.
This will work for any practical tests that do not require administration by FAA FSDO staff or deferral to DPEs by FAA staff. The most prevalent of these is the CFI initial practical test. It is anticipated that in most FSDOs these will be unavailable during any government furlough of FAA staff.
While the FAA staff is out on furlough, it is assumed that any practical test applications will be placed “in the in basket” and await final processing by FAA staff (at the local FSDOs or in Oklahoma City as appropriate) until staff returns. While we typically see processing times for practical tests between 60-90 days, the FAA does allow for the temporary airman certificates granted by DPEs when completing practical tests validity for up to 120 days. It is possible that the furlough will create further delays in this processing (hopefully we will not see a shutdown of the government itself for this length of time). Should any pilots who have received a temporary airman certificate find that their temporary certificates are going to expire it may not be possible to schedule an appointment with a FSDO to issue a continuance of a temporary airman certificate. Pilots should note that if they have been issued a temporary airman certificate, their previous airman certificate is no longer valid and any expired temporary airman certificate (unless otherwise extended by the FAA) will become invalid for use after 120 days. Any pilots who have expiring temporary airman certificates should contact their local FSDOs (when they are back in the office) to schedule a time to extend them if their permanent airman certificate becomes delayed due to the furlough/government shutdown.
This is the best understanding that we have of the situation right now. More information will be provided as it becomes available or should the government return and FAA staff furloughs be stopped.
If anyone has different information, please let me know.