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January 26, 2023
Flight School Accreditation - A New Horizon
The name of the new accrediting commission will be announced at the FSANA 14th Annual International Flight School Operators Conference and Trade Show in Orlando, Florida. The new accreditation program will launch and the process of accreditation will be open for flight schools.

Flight schools are in the business of education. Accreditation ensures a minimum standard of quality and enhances the quality of flight training education. This includes maintaining academic values that meet and/or exceed accreditation standards.

The purpose of accreditation is to maintain the highest standard for flight schools in respect to industry business practices and professionalism.

Accreditation will provide the public with an opportunity to identify flight schools that comply with a set of established criterion, which by way of recognition demonstrates the school meets or exceeds the core focus of these accreditation standards.

Accreditation is the recognized standard and litmus test to which the public and flight training vendor community may refer in evaluating schools and programs with whom they wish to affiliate.

Accreditation helps schools training in aerospace related competencies to develop sound academic, business and financial practices, which lead to improved student learning, retention and completion.

Continuous accreditation recognition generates an aggregated positive impact among both flight schools and the public. The process of accreditation is an ongoing, interactive and evolving system of standards and best practices that lead to continued improvement at accredited Institutions.

The accreditation standards are designed to focus on seven core areas within the flight school:
·    Institutional and Program Quality and Integrity
·    Safety
·    Security
·    Risk Management
·    Business Practices
·    Finance and Accounting
·    Education
·    Customer Satisfaction

There will be two types of accredited institutions.

A. Accredited schools that seek to create a never ending system of flight training improvement and have the ability to enroll students who have borrowed from the United States Department of Education Title IV student loan program.

B. Accredited schools that seek to create a never ending system of flight training improvement.

Robert Rockmaker, President and CEO of FSANA said, "Civil flight training is ready for this next step and the Wright Brothers would be pleased with the long term impact that this new program will have on the industry". Accreditation will be open to all flight schools on a global basis.

FSANA recommends that schools interested in learning more and/or entering the accreditation space attend the accreditation seminar on February 28, 2023 in Orlando. More information on the seminar can be found in this newsletter.
PSI Test Center Survey Results
In FSANA’s last newsletter, we inquired about the perceived potential effects of changes in the compensation PSI offers to knowledge test providers; relating to the provision of FAA knowledge tests). This is something that many flight training providers have chosen to offer as a part of their business model and as a service to their customers and the aviation community.

The request for input is based on changes coming in PSI’s compensation model for these providers, and potentially significantly undermines whether or not doing this is profitable for those testing providers. In some cases, we have heard that providers will discontinue the service due to the change.

This concerns FSANA and its members because it directly affects the potential ability of those seeking to complete FAA knowledge tests within a reasonable proximity. Further requirements for travel increase costs and decrease availability; both of these potential detractors to the vitality of the pilot training pipeline.

Some History on the Issue

While it might be easy to just beat up on PSI as the test provider, it is worth knowing a little history on the topic.

PSI is a sole provider that received a contract with the FAA a few years ago to provide and manage FAA knowledge tests for the national training system. This contract was granted after a bidding process that was public.

Unfortunately, PSI was the only bidder on this contract. This left the FAA with one choice, and the industry with a monopoly. It means that as long as they are conducting their business in a manner that complies with that contract, the industry likely has no immediate recourse.

What the Survey Indicated

In the survey, we asked questions about the expected effects of changes on compensation to the test centers. Additionally, we asked some questions about what should be considered a reasonable proximity of availability to secure a test. Here are some highlights of the feedback received from the survey.

  • Nearly 70% of respondents indicated that “pilots seeking to take an FAA knowledge test” in their area “currently have an available location that does not require excessive travel. When characterized as what distance that might be, 65% indicated that this mean their students could secure a test with less than a 25 mile drive.

  • 93% of respondents indicated that if their “nearest testing center were to shut down, would it be a hardship for your students.” Asking more about that question, 82% indicated that their students would then be required to travel more than 25 miles, with nearly half of them responding that their students would be required to travel more than 50 miles.

  • Only 14% of respondents considered a drive of greater than 25 miles reasonable to expect a student to be required to make to take a test. This might be something our industry considers as a marker for texting availability as we consider options going forward.

In open-ended responses, it easy obvious that this is an area of sincere concern for flight training providers in the United States. As a required part of the pilot training progression, the ability to secure a knowledge test should not be a roadblock.

Many expressed concern about the reliability of a system based on a single source provider for the FAA knowledge tests. For most, while price is a factor, it wasn’t the primary one. Maintaining availability is critical to the aviation training infrastructure continuing to complete pilot training.

Moving Forward

A number of aviation industry groups, including FSANA, have expressed concern over this issue and much more relating to the provision of FAA knowledge tests. It is likely we have come to a point where a workgroup needs to come together and motivate the FAA to update the knowledge testing process to a more modern system.

The provision of tests, the management of the process, the registration process for students, and the availability of tests have all become poor examples of customer service and industry availability under the sole provider condition that PSI has enjoyed. This is not to say that PSI cannot be a part of the solution, but that the current condition is not acceptable to the future of the flight training industry.

It is time to embrace new technologies that could allow for equivalent or enhanced validity in the testing process while increasing customer service and availability to those completing pilot training. FSANA and other industry participants are engaged on this issue and will be having further discussions with the FAA representatives who are responsible for ensuring the public the ability to appropriately secure FAA knowledge tests.
One-Day Flight School Accreditation Seminar
On Tuesday February 28, 2023, FSANA is offering a first-of-its-kind, full day seminar the day before the start of the FSANA annual conference and trade show in Orlando.
Accrediting organizations typically operate two accreditation seminars during the calendar year. The seminar will fulfill the requirement which is included in the updated accreditation standards being rolled out in March 2023.

The seminar will provide an opportunity for participants to gain insight into the key points of the accreditation standards, process, and procedures. Pre-accreditation is planned to open March 1, 2023. Schools that are pre-accredited will be among the first to be eligible to make the connection with the the U.S. Department of Education Title IV student loan program. The connection to Title IV funds is a bonus and added value to the core reasons for becoming an accredited flight training provider.

The accreditation program will enhance the overall quality and delivery in the career flight training system according to Bob Rockmaker, FSANA president & CEO. Some schools will seek accreditation in order to become a best in class provider. Schools will also have the option to enroll students who have borrowed funds from the U.S. Department of Education assuming they meet all of the accrediting standards.

Flight schools with the intention of becoming accredited need to attend this one-day event.
The seminar is a requisite for accreditation. Without accreditation, flight schools will not have the ability to enroll students who have borrowed under the Title IV loan program.

Special Registration Rate Ends February 3, 2023
The 14th Annual International Flight School Operators Conference returns to the Rosen Plaza in Orlando, Florida, March 1-3, 2023. Register now to take advantage of the Special Rate only available through February 3, a $100 savings per registration!

Registration includes:
  • Entry to professional sessions and workshops
  • Admission to exhibition hall
  • Opening reception
  • Dinner and entertainment
  • 2 luncheons
  • Coffee breaks with over 30 exhibitors and growing

2023 Conference Hotel
FSANA is pleased to again have the conference return to the Rosen Plaza in Orlando for 2023. Rooms can now be booked at a special conference discount.

Room Reservations
For FSANA dates February 28 and March 1-3, 2023, reserve rooms by Monday, February 6 for a special rate of $189.00 single/double plus tax. Daily resort fee is waived. After this date rates may be higher or rooms may not be available.

Extra Room Capacity
The conference is filling quickly and the original block of rooms are going fast. If you are planning on coming in early, you may find the link above with no availability (specifically for February 27th and 28th). There are additional available room at the adjacent Rosen Inn Pointe Orlando property for the conference.

As of today, you can book a room at Rosen Inn Pointe Orlando for Feb 27 and Feb 28 and then move to the Rosen Plaza for the balance of your stay. Or you can stay at the Rosen Inn Pointe Orlando.

Click here for room booking or you can also call to book at: (407) 996-8585.
Announcing the 2022 Paul and Fran Burger Sweepstakes Winners!
The WINGS Industry Network (WIN) announced the winners of the 2022 Paul and Fran Burger $50,000 WINGS Sweepstakes this week. Ten flight instructors and pilots won cash prizes ranging from $500 to $1,500. In its fifth year, the Paul and Fran Burger sweepstakes garnered strong support from the FAASTeam, industry, and individuals dedicated to GA safety.

A hardy congratulations go to the 2022 winners!

$1,500 Alexander Romero, Miami, FL
$1,500 Brian Beuerlein, Orlando, FL
$1,500 Garrett Hendrickson, Saint Petersburg, FL
$1,500 Taylor Muiser, Mesa, AZ
$750 Sandra Feliciona, Inwood, WV
$750 Krystine Preacher, Phoenix, AZ
$750 Mario Accardo, Canton, MI
$750.00 Mitchell Raab, Mesquite, NV
$500.00 Christopher Mckenna, Simsbury, CT
$500.00 Tony Crespi, Meriden, CT
WIN applauds these aviators' commitment to general aviation safety and participation in the FAASTeam WINGS Pilot Proficiency Program (WINGS). Proficiency training has demonstrated that WINGS-qualified aviators are safer pilots and experience fewer accidents and fatalities. The winners' actions contribute to these ever-improving statistics.

For information on the 2022 Sweepstakes and a listing of past winners, please visit www.WINGSIndustry.net/sweepstakes.
FAA Offers Updated Standards to AV Block EKG Test Reporting Reducing Burden on Some Pilots
The FAA has recently updated its guidance to AMEs regarding EKG parameters relating to a specific potential heart block that may have required additional testing and in some cases blocked a pilot from obtaining a First Class medical certificate which all U.S. based airline pilots must have in order to hold a Captain or First Officer job. This change is related to a specific heart block that typically has no side effects but was visible in the EKG tests that professional pilots take for their medical certification.

This is good news for those pilots affected by this relatively uncommon condition, but it has also raised some questions, concerns, and, some would argue, a little bit of conspiracy.

A recent Associated Press article (New FAA Cardiac Health Rules not Prompted by COVID-19 Shots) highlighted the following:

“The FAA in October loosened its medical certification guidelines for pilots with heart block, also known as AV block, based on recommendations from the agency’s cardiology consultants. AV block can make it difficult for one’s heart to pump blood effectively by delaying or blocking the electrical signal that controls one’s heartbeat. It is classified as first, second or third degree and is often diagnosed with an electrocardiogram test, also referred to as an EKG or ECG, which measures the heart’s electrical activity.

A normal EKG result is generally defined as having a PR interval — how long it takes the electrical signal to travel from the top part of the heart to the bottom — of between 120 and 200 milliseconds. A PR interval of more than 200 milliseconds typically indicates AV block. However, first-degree AV block only delays the electrical signal, rather than blocking it, and often does not have noticeable effects.

“In an otherwise healthy heart, this is usually a benign condition and rarely causes any symptoms,” said Dr. Roland Assi, a cardiac surgeon and assistant professor at Yale University. “In general, it does not require specific treatment besides a complete evaluation by a physician.”

This particular condition (a first degree heart block - AV block) that the FAA is addressing tolerances for has an incidence of 0.5% - 2% of otherwise healthy adults and typically does not result any need for additional treatment.

While some have questioned whether this standard change is related to COVID and potential side effects from the illness or vaccines (most prominently Substack Journalist, Steve Kirsh, “The FAA has very quietly tacitly admitted that the EKGs of pilots are no longer normal”) , a quote from one AME in a related article highlighted the fact that “the FAA doesn’t move that fast to make changes on anything; this is likely a change that was in the works for many years.” FSANA agrees with this and the fact that the FAA moves at, well, a methodical bureaucratic process that in most cases is what makes sure that any new wild changes that could reduce safety, including changes in medical standards.

The guidance provided by the FAA allows the issuance of a medical certificate without further testing or documentation to a pilot with a first degree AV block with a PR interval of less than 300 milliseconds AND if the are not exhibiting symptoms AND if the medical examiner does not have any concerns. This appears to be a case where the FAA might actually be working to reduce unnecessary testing and reporting for a small segment of the pilot community who may have or develop this condition that doesn’t require treatment or impact their safety as a pilot.

If you would like to know more about this specific change, you can see the specific guidance to FAA AME’s on this topic at: https://www.faa.gov/ame_guide/app_process/exam_tech/item36/amd/arrhythmias
FAA Aeronautical Chart Users' Guide Updated November 2022
The FAA's aeronautical chart users guide is an introduction to the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) aeronautical charts and publications. It is useful to new pilots as a learning aid, and to experienced pilots as a quick reference guide.

A great tool to help students reference information they will learn about VFR and IFR charts, this document is under-utilized by many flight training operations.

You can find the new version by clicking here.
Updated FAA Aviation Weather Handbook
FAA-H-8083-28 Available
The FAA recently update the FAA Aviation Weather Handbook FAA-H-8083-28 in December 2022. The handbook is a great resource for instructors and students studying their weather knowledge.

You can find the new version by clicking here.
Proposed SMS Rule for Manufacturers and Charter/Commuter/Air Tour Operators
The FAA has proposed a rule that requires charter, commuter, and air tour operators, and aircraft manufacturers to implement a Safety Management System or SMS (www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/sms). An SMS is a set of policies and procedures where companies identify, monitor, and address potential operational hazards early on, before they become serious problems. U.S. airlines have been required to have an SMS since 2018. This proposed rule is intended to improve aviation safety by requiring organizations to implement a proactive approach to managing safety.

Please send comments on or before March 13, 2023.

FSANA 2023 Conference and Trade Show Sponsor/Exhibitor Opportunities
Flight training supply chain providers are invited to participate in the 2023 FSANA Conference and Trade Show scheduled for Orlando, Florida, March 1-3, 2023. Act now, space is filling up.
The supply chain plays a key part in the flight training process and for many of our attendees FSANA's targeted trade show acts as their yearly one-stop shop.

ATP Certificates Issued in 2022 Show Increases; but Maybe a Plateau Point
by Jason Blair

The volume of ATP certificates issued in the United States is something that directly relates to our ability to provide pilots for commercial airline operations. As a base certificate requirement, only pilots who meet this certificate level can be employed at airlines, and many cargo carriers, operations. As such, knowing how many of these we issue each year is something that directly helps us as an industry understand our ability to staff these job functions.

This past year, 2022, we generated more ATP certificate issuance in the United States than any recent year; doubling what we have done in either of the past two years and significantly more than what we have issued in any one year in well over a decade.

But is this enough? Well, that’s a different question and one we can also contextualize.

First, let’s look at the numbers.

Increased Total ATP Certificates Issued in 2022
This past year we saw what appears to be a total of 9387 ATP certificates issued. This outpaces what we have done in recent years, and, in fact, I have been tracking these numbers since 1990 and at no point in that time have we issued more than 9000 ATP certificates in any year. This is kind of a record year.

It is worth noting that in the past couple of years, the lower numbers of issuances were surely affected by the effects of COVID. We see a similar drop in issuance numbers per year in 2009 and 2010 as regulatory changes took effect regarding what requirements needed to be met to qualify for an ATP certificate. Taking these two anomalies out of the averages, we typically issue an average of around 6000 ATP certificates per year, so 2022 is a high point and shows a significant increase in our issuance trend.

Highly active hiring and demand for ATP-qualified pilots is a major factor that has driven the training for and certification of pilots in the past year. Since a large portion of the ATP certificate training and certification is now done at airlines in their initial training processes, the entities needing these pilots are directly affecting the training volume to meet their own employee needs.
What Percent of ATPs are R-ATP?

As we look at the composition of the ATP certificate issued in the past years, we see that the number of ATP certificates that were issued as “Restricted-ATP” (R-ATP) certificates continues to be around the 30% level. In 2022, 33.19% of ATP certificates were issued as R-ATP certificates.

The R-ATP certificate, since its introduction, has increased in percentage of the overall portion of ATP certificate issued. it does seem to have stabilized at being a little less than a third of the ATP certificates issued each year. Requiring that a recipient of this certificate has completed some level of collegiate aviation-related degree to be eligible for this certificate limits the number of these certificates each year to those that have done this while also completing flight training. In a way, this data point gives us some insight into the percentage of pilots entering commercial service operations who were trained in collegiate aviation programs.
ATP Certificates by Month

I find a little bit of interest in looking at a more granular data point, how many ATP certificates were issued on a month-by-month basis in 2022.

The first few months of 2022 saw higher numbers of ATP certificates issued per month than at the end of the year. This appears to be a little bit of “backlog clearing” from the lower numbers of issuances that took place in 2020 and 2021 as the world was affected by Covid shut- and slow-downs. As we came out of this period, as airline activity increased again, and as airlines ramped up hiring, they also ramped up training. This training included the initial certification of pilots for their ATP certificates.

We see toward the end of the year that our numbers of issuances stabilized at a point more like 6-700 certificates per month instead of the higher numbers at the beginning of the year. There is some perception that this may be more likely an expected normalized number that we will see on average going forward that is sustainable. This would indicate that our expected production per year might be expected to max out in the upcoming years at a point a little over 8000 certificates per year instead of the high point we saw in 2022 that approached the 10,000 certificates issued point.
The ATP certificate continues to be the final certification hurdle in a pilot’s training path before they can enter service as a pilot at an airline. The completion of this training is demanding on both equipment and human resources and as such as a limit regarding the quantity of these certificates we can produce over time. Unless the resources to train these pilots are expanded or the training requirements are changed (an unlikely probability), at some point our industry’s ability to train more experiences a cap. The data we have been seeing seems to indicate that we may have hit the plateau point of what we should be able to expect to produce yearly.

That means that as active hiring continues, and as we see continued estimates of active retirement of aging pilots, we are likely to continue to see heavy demand for these pilots in absence of a significant reduction in demand for flight operations.

To put an example to this point, I recently looked at seniority lists for two major airlines and what their expected retirements will be over the upcoming years. What it indicated was that in each of these major airline operations, it was expected that they would experience over 600-700 retirements from their pilot pool due to aging out (the pilots reaching the mandatory retirement age of 65) each year. If we consider that in relation to our ability to produce ATP certificates, each of these airlines alone would need to hire about a month of our ATP production each year. There are certainly more than 12 operators in the United States that require ATP certificate holders to keep their aircraft flying, so unless something drastically changes, even just the demand from a few major airlines will likely suck up our ability to produce ATP pilots each year. The career outlook looks good and our demand for pilots seems likely to continue to be strong for many years to come.

FSANA has been collecting DPE names who have expressed a willingness to travel to help flight training providers secure practical tests.

The latest List of Travel-Willing DPEs with contact information is available on the FSANA website. If you are a flight training provider who is finding a challenge of scheduling DPEs in your local area, feel free to reach out to these individuals. They may be able to serve some of your local testing needs.

If you are a DPE who is not on this list but would like to be, please let us know. Write us at info@fsana.com with your name, city, state, email and phone number and we will add you.

Have feedback concerns about FAA practical tests? Email inquiries here
Email Feedback Concerns about FAA Practical Tests to:
Tell us what is important to you as a school owner, manager or chief flight instructor. We will share comments in an upcoming edition of Flight Training News. Send your thoughts to info@fsana.com.
V I S I O N A R Y •• P A R T N E R S

D E V E L O P E R •• P A R T N E R S
B U I L D E R •• P A R T N E R S
L E A D E R •• P A R T N E R S
Established in 2009, the Flight School Association of North America (FSANA) is the first and only association of its kind dedicated solely to the flight training industry. FSANA represents flight schools, firms that provide products and services to the flight training or aviation industry, and other supporting partners.

The Mission of the Flight School Association is to support, promote and advocate for the business of flight training; to provide knowledge, programs and services that help its members thrive and better serve their customers and communities; to foster best business practices; to educate and inspire youth; to increase the global pilot population; to improve general aviation safety; and to work in alliance with the aviation and aerospace industry.

fsana.com / 610-791-4359 / bob@fsana.com