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What is Examining Authority?




Heard of examining authority but not sure what it is? In this article we’ll go over every detail of this unique FAA approval.

Going to a certified Part 141 flight school has a few perks for students. However, not all Part 141 flight schools have the same approvals from the FAA. 

Did you know that at some flight schools, you can pass your “checkride” and get your pilot’s license by flying with the Chief or Assistant Chief Flight Instructor instead of a designated pilot examiner? 

This is a special privilege that a flight school can have called Examining Authority. Let’s look at Part 141 Examining Authority, the alternatives, and why it’s a good thing.

What Is a Part 141 Flight School?

Let’s start with a quick recap of what a Part 141 flight school is.

There are two FARs (Federal Aviation Regulations) under which you can get flight training: Part 141 or Part 61. Part 61 is the more informal of the two, where you might work with only a CFI (Certified Flight Instructor) instead of with an organized school. 

Examining Authority end of course test

Part 141 flight schools, on the other hand, are organized and possess an Operating Certificate from the FAA. 

The FAA must review its curriculum, instructors, and planes to get a certificate. 

In most cases, the minimum flight hours required to complete a course under Part 141 may be lower than under Part 61 because the FAA knows that you must follow a structured curriculum. 

Part 141 provides flexibility for different-sized flight schools to operate as they see fit. For example, larger schools may hire Assistant Chief Instructors or Check Airmen to help the Chief Instructors with their duties. 

What Is Examining Authority? 

Another option for a Part 141 flight school is to pursue Examining Authority. This allows the school to issue pilot certificates once a course is completed. 

If a school does not have Examining Authority, students will complete their End of Course evaluations with the school’s Chief or Assistant Chief Instructor. 

Then they’ll have to fly with the FAA or a Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE), who can issue the pilot certificate.

How Does a School Get Examining Authority?

The FAA does not hand out the ability to issue pilot certificates to just any school. 

To be eligible for Examining Authority, a school must have held their 141 school certificate for 24 months and have maintained a 90 percent pass rate for their students. 

Once they meet these prerequisites, they can apply to get Examining Authority.

The school must also renew its Examining Authority, which means annual (or more often) flights and inspections with the FAA.

Here at Thrust Flight we hold Examining Authority for the following courses Private Pilot, Instrument Rating, Commercial Pilot, CFI, and CFII.

With Examining Authority on all of these courses our Zero Time to Airline students are able to go through nearly all of their training without meeting with a DPE.

Biggest Benefit of Examining Authority

When you train at a school with examining authority you don’t have to wait for a checkride with a DPE. Across the US there is a shortage of DPE’s causing some students to have to wait 2-4 weeks to get a checkride. If your school has examining authority that wait is non-existent, allowing you to complete your training significantly faster.

What Does Examining Authority Mean for Students? 

If you go to a 141 school that does not have Examining Authority, you will have to pass two checkrides essentially. 

First, you must pass the End of Course Part 141 evaluation conducted by the school and then pass the FAA checkride with a DPE.

In most cases, that’s no big deal because the more preparation you can have, the better. If you pass your school’s End of Course, you should feel confident that the DPE’s checkride will be a piece of cake.

Beyond schools with Examining Authority, the only people who can issue pilot certificates are FAA ASIs (Aviation Safety Inspectors) and DPEs (Designated Pilot Examiners). 

What is examining authority

It’s rare to fly with FAA employees in most places, so most pilots fly with DPEs. 

They are experienced, independent flight instructors and professional pilots who have received DPE authority from the FAA. Flight schools will typically have relationships with several local DPEs with whom they work regularly.

If your school has Examining Authority, your End of Course flight will be your checkride, so you’ll be issued your temporary certificate after passing it.

Some pilots find this the less stressful option since you’re already familiar with your school’s instructors, and they’re already familiar with you. 

It’s important to realize that your school may have Examining Authority for one course but not all. 

For example, they might be able to issue pilot certificates for the Private Pilot course but not for the Instrument or Commercial courses. It all depends on their approvals from the FAA, how long they’ve been teaching certain courses, and what approvals they’ve requested. 

When it comes to content and structure, there really are no big differences between flying with your school’s Chief Instructor or a DPE. 

Both checkrides will be designed based on the same FAA documents, namely the Airmen Certification Standards (ACS) for the rating you’re seeking. So, most schools make their End of Course evaluations look very much like a DPE checkride. 

FAR Part 141 Subpart D: Examining Authority

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