Practical Test Standards

By Bob Martens with Pilot workshops

As we continually build upon the foundation that supports our aviation activities, I fear that many of us are neglecting a very important cornerstone.

The Practical Test Standards (PTS) are the basis for all training and evaluation in the US, yet few know where they are, what they say, or most importantly, how they can save lives.

The great news is that they are readily available FOR FREE, on line, they are very easy to read and understand, and every one of us can integrate them into our daily flying. If it sounds too good to be true, it isn’t.

OK, you ask, what’s the catch? How come everyone has not embraced this marvelous tool to the betterment of aviation? Two small issues I will admit to right up front. They are not perfect and they train to a minimum standard.

Why, you might ask, would we ever train to a minimum standard? Doesn’t that guarantee mediocrity? Should we be looking for maximum rather than minimum performance? Absolutely YES!

But, we humans are, by nature, flawed creatures, and while we strive for perfection in our flying, it hasn’t happened just yet. However, this imperfect system does provide us a proven framework for conducting safe flight activities throughout our aviation careers. It works. There is no good reason to turn our backs on this tremendous tool.

So, how do they work? The answer is very simple. By regulation, every flight evaluation in the US is conducted in accordance with the PTS. Meet the standard, you pass, fail to meet the standard, you don’t pass. Since evaluations are conducted to measure training effectiveness, all training SHOULD mirror the PTS.

This is where our system starts to break down. ALL CFI’s should be conducting training that integrates the PTS into every flight. If this were the case, every pilot would know and understand the PTS. How many pilots really master understand the PTS?

Visit the FAA web site and take a look. Some great stuff there.

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