The Flight School Association of North America (FSANA)’s recent newsletter shows the company releasing an open letter call to service, preparing for Learn to Fly month, releasing its 2020 survey results, as well as sharing conference outcomes from its FSANA Flight School Operators Conference in addition to pre-conference meetings.
The open letter call to service is for FAA DPEs in the United States to make a concerted push to clear a backlog of practical test needs. FSANA highlighted that there are approximately 950 FAA DPEs who can conduct practical tests currently but that the mean number of tests provided by any DPE is only 63 tests per year. Even if each DPE gave just a limited number of extra tests monthly, the effect would be a significant increase in the overall output of practical tests. The goal is to leverage already in place resources, the DPEs the FAA has already put in place, to help increase the testing capacity.
Learn to Fly Month, which starts in May, is a continuation of the month-long initiative that FSANA has promoted for the last three years to facilitate flight training providers in attracting new potential entrants into the field of aviation. FSANA is encouraging flight schools and organizations around the country to collaborate and hold events and promotions focused on getting more people to learn to fly. FSANA is providing a set of six free tools intended to help all flight schools and others interested in promoting Learn to Fly Month.
In 2018 FSANA conducted a survey of FAA practical test costs around the country. To track this part of flight training and see if changes are trending, the survey was conducted again in January of 2020. Some of the findings include an upward trend on the average practical test closer to the $500-600 range than in 2018 when it was averaged at $400-500 per test. In addition, add on ratings seemed to have seen the greatest increase in average pricing.
In a separate report, FSANA analyzed 2019 ATP certification numbers in the U.S. and found that while the numbers are not back to what they were before regulation changes, ATP pilot certification trends continue to head upwards with the 2019 numbers.
Before the FSANA Flight Schools Operators Conference began, FSANA hosted meetings relating to concerns on FAA practical test availability and consistency, as well as availability of aircraft for training providers. The first meeting highlighted positive effects that have been made in some areas of practical test availability due to policy changes that have been made for DPEs by the FAA over the past year since the last meeting and also noted that backlogs still exist. It was also noted that some degree of consistency of testing seems to be improving.
In the second meeting, representatives from Sportcruiser, Tecnam, Vans, and Vashon aircraft talked with training providers about the abilities of their aircraft and applicability for flight training operations. The discussion highlighted the challenges of aircraft that are certificated as LSA instead of traditionally certificated FAA aircraft. FSANA will be continuing the discussion from this meeting in a new flight training aircraft committee that will work to drive the discussions of meeting flight training aircraft needs for the training industry.
On day two of the conference, Keynote speaker Fay Malarkey Black, RAA President and CEO, highlighted the importance of integration between U.S. regional airlines and flight training providers. She noted the impact of the regional airlines on the number of flights and employment in the aviation sector, highlighting the fact that 41% of scheduled passenger flights are operated by regional airlines who employ over 57,000 employees.