The FAA Knowledge Test Mystery – Part 2

I recently returned from OKC where I was part of a group of educators and industry personnel who met with personnel in AFS-630 (Airman Testing Standards Branch) for two days. Those present were representatives from AFS-630, AOPA, NAFI, Liberty University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Western Michigan University, University of Oklahoma, and the Professional Aviation Board of Certification. The reason for this meeting was to discover the reason of a sudden, and drastic drop in the pass rates of the Fundamentals of Instruction (FOI) examination.

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SAFE Pilot Training Reform Symposium

I recently attended a two-day event where the Society of Aviation Flight Educators (SAFE) chaired a landmark gathering of major general aviation stakeholders to discuss lack of growth, decreased student start, increased student attrition, and flat accident rate trends vis-à-vis our current flight training system. This meeting was organized because of a study by AOPA, The Flight Training Experience, that showed some alarming statistics; approximately 80% of the people who begin aviation training stopped their training either prior to obtaining their private pilot certificate or shortly thereafter; student starts in aviation training are down by 60%; and Private Pilot Certificates issued are down by 75%. In addition, despite all of the advances in technology, the general aviation accident rate is essentially the same as it has been for the last 10-20 years.

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The FAA Knowledge Test Mystery

Recently there were significant changes to the FAA Fundamental of Instruction knowledge test question bank (as well as the ATP and Flight Engineer). This change significantly affected the permanent FAA records of many who took this new test – the tests scores were significantly lower to include a record number of failures. The entire aviation community wanted to know why. Both the number and type of questions added to the test were significant. The release of these questions also came as a surprise to us as well. The questions that immediately came to my mind was “is this what the rest of the tests are going to be like?” and “what in the world are they trying to accomplish?” I was also concerned about the 300 plus students in Liberty’s aviation program; where these tests going to keep them in the chocks?

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