A&P Mechanic Testing Fees

The cost of obtain the FAA Airframe and Powerplant ratings may be going up as costs of doing business for the DME has gone up with the new FAA guidance for required tooling and equipment as of April 1, 2015.

Testing for the FAA Mechanic Certificate is broken into two portions or ratings:
1. Airframe Rating
2. Powerplant Rating

The Certification written testing at an FAA written test center:
•Written knowledge tests General subject area: $150 per take per the CATS system.
 General subject area: $150 per take
 Airframe subject area: $150 per take
 Powerplant subject area: $150 per take
 Written tests: $450 Total *
(The General Written test is taken with the first rating sought)

* Written knowledge test prices are subject to change. Prices for knowledge tests are set by FAA Approved Testing Centers. Check the local testing center fee before testing.

The Certification Oral & Practical testing at a DME testing facility:
•Oral and practical tests (one “session” per rating)
 Section I - General section – Oral and Practical: $200
 Section II - Airframe Structures – O&P: $200
 Section III - Airframe Systems – O&P: $200
 Section IV - Powerplant Maintenance – O&P: $200
 Section V - Powerplant Systems – O&P: $200
 ALL Oral and Practical Tests: $1000 Total
(The General Section is taken with the first rating sought)

* The oral and skill knowledge test prices are set by the individual DME. Prices for oral and skill knowledge tests vary from DME to DME. The above is only a sample of what you may find.

•Payment for Services
 The oral and practical examination is not part of the Aviation Maintenance Certification Program. Each applicant must coordinate with a DME and schedule an oral and practical examination separate from a Maintenance Certification Program in accordance with FAA regulations and orders.

 Make sure you have a clear understanding from your DME what your fee’s for taking the oral and practical exam will be. In addition, there may be an extra charge for any re-tests that may be required, having a clear understanding of all fee’s up front will prevent issues that may arise after the tests are completed. It is a good business practice to get all fee’s in writing before taking any tests.

 How an DME collects fees for services is different for each DME. Some DMEs will allow an applicant to pay the fee using a credit card, personnel check or cash. Do NOT expect each DME to collect fees the same way. Fee collection is by DME preference.

Applicants must be advised that the FAA authorization to test is only valid for testing by a Designated Mechanic Examiner (DME) who exercises privileges within the geographic area served by the FSDO where the authorization is granted. Should the applicant wish to test with a DME in another district, additional FAA approval is required. The DME must gain permission from their FSDO/international field office. Part of the DME review will be to obtain the FAA approval to test an applicant out of district.

The new FAA Oral and Practical planning sheet are now in use for and is mandatory September 2015. What this means is the FAA will pick your oral questions and practical projects for your test the DME will give you. The oral test is basically the same, however the practical projects will only be 20 projects now and the 24-core items has gone away.

The FAA has published the NEW Practical Test Standards (PTS) that covers all subject areas. I would highly recommend you review the new PTS before you make an appointment with a DME to test.

If you have any question about the new FAA testing you can contact post a question on Ask Bob.

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Denny, I certainly appreciate you keeping us posted on this subject. I was a DME and DAR for about 7 years and handed them both back.

I’m not overly impressed with the overall maintenance certification process. Please correct me if I am wrong, but relative to acquiring you’re A&P based on experience, you never in the entire course of your life had to attend any formal education. Not kindergarten, middle school, high school, nothing. At 15 you go to work on a full time basis working on aircraft for a guy that as well, has never had any formal education at all. After 30 months he writes you a letter validating your acquired experiences, take that letter to the FAA who signs your 8610-2’s authorizing you to begin testing.

That day you get out of aviation and plow fields for the next 20 years. Then you decide to get you’re A&P. Because there is no expiration on the 8610-2’s you begin testing. No limitations on the number of times you can fail the written tests. No limitations on the number of times you can fail the O&P. But after countless failures you pass the written tests and O&P, and poof, you’re a walking talking A&P that has never spent one day in a classroom, and you have not seen an aircraft in over 20 years.

Does the FAA recognize how that makes us look on the world platform?

The other problem I had with the DME was for the guys/gals that acquired the right to test based on practical experience. Their experience letter states Cessna 150’s & 172’s. This letter is very clearly stating they do NOT have experience in turbine engines, pressurization systems, rotorcraft, etc… But they have 3 passing written test scores, and I think we can all agree how they passed the written tests. And they are now standing before me the DME who is supposed to test them in all aspects of aircraft maintenance to include dope & fabric, turbine engines, pressurization systems, etc…. Really? That’s not fair to the DME or the applicant in my humble opinion.

I’m thinking there might be a little room for improvement, what do you think?

At a minimum, if the FAA authorized them to begin testing with only 150 & 172 experience I don’t think I as the DME should have to test them on turbine engines, pressurization systems, etc…, First off the FAA said this was enough experience when they signed the 8610-2’s. It is extremely obvious they don’t have experience in these areas, so who are we fooling?

Thank you for the feedback. I think many of the issues and concern you noted are being address maybe not directly, but indirectly with the new DME procedures.

Applicants for a mechanic certificate must meet the requirements of part 65 subparts A and D. There are two ways to meet the requirements of part 65 subparts A and D 1) work experience and 2) attend a part 147 aviation program.

Section 65.77 requires the applicant to have documented practical experience in maintaining airframes and/or powerplants. At least 18-months of practical experience appropriate to the rating requested is required. For a certificate with both ratings, the requirement is at least 30-months of experience concurrently performing the duties appropriate to both ratings. If the applicant has not met the required 30-months concurrently performing the duties appropriate to both ratings, calculate each rating separately using the 18-month requirement for each.

NOTE: Applying for ratings separately will result in no less than 36 months total requirement for both ratings.

Practical Experience. The practical experience must provide the applicant with basic knowledge of and skills in the procedures, practices, materials, tools, machine tools, and equipment used in aircraft construction, alteration, maintenance, and inspection

Expectations. There is no expectation that an applicant be highly proficient in overhauls, major repairs, or major alterations in the minimum 18 months of experience.

Powerplant Tests. Powerplant tests will include questions and projects on propellers that the applicant must successfully complete regardless of his or her experience.

Part Time Practical Experience. During the evaluation of part time practical aviation maintenance experience, the applicant must document an equivalent of 18 months for each rating individually, or 30 months of experience for both ratings. This is based on a standard work week that has 8 hours per day for 5 days per week, or a 40 hour work week, or a total of approximately 160 hours per month. The time is cumulative, but the days, weeks, and months are not required to be consecutive. The practical experience must be documented.

Military applicants that have not completed the JSAMTCC program may still be evaluated for authorization to take the mechanic knowledge test based on documented experience and military occupational specialty (MOS), Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC), or Navy Enlisted Code (NEC) codes, as authorized in § 65.77. However, when the FAA is evaluating military experience, aviation safety inspectors (ASI) and ASTs are not to accept MOSs, AFSCs, or NECs “carte blanche” as qualifications to accepting experience of § 65.77. Even though the MOSs suggest authorization, the applicant must have verifiable experience in 50 percent of the subject areas listed for the rating sought (refer to part 147 appendices B, C, and D) in order to be eligible.

With the revised FAA Order 8900.2A now meet the requirements to take the tests is one thing, but passing is something different. Applicants can still purchase the written test questions and answer even if the FAA does not publish them anymore. Many applicants will study and pass the written tests.

Testing Periods. Once the tests have begun, applicants must pass all the required tests within a 24 month period and this include the Oral and Practical tests.

With the new downloader planning sheet the DME will be using the FAA will pick all oral test questions as well as the practical projects. What has changed as well is if a applicant fail a subsection say on the Airframe section 1 they they fail the entire section 1 and will have to retest the entire section again. On all retest, the DME will download a new retest and again the FAA will pick the questions and them will be different from the original test. The same thing for the practical skills test if you fail a project you would have to repeat that project and a set of new practical projects the DME will download from the FAA database.

Make no mistake about the new O&P testing it random questions and projects and will be the luck of the draw what project an applicant will get. If an applicant only has turbine experience they may get reciprocating engine projects the DME will have no say in the projects.

The new planning sheet the DMEs will be using will level the playing field when it comes to testing applicants. The part 147 school applicant will be better prepared since their school programs cover all of the subject area’s with class room study and hands on projects in the lab. So for part 147 applicants I do not see any issues. However, for military and mechanic authorized to test on work experience I see the oral and practical being a very difficult test to pass without formal part 147 school training.

This new downloader planning sheet does serve a good purpose 1) it prevents a DME from only picking oral and practical projects based on an applicant’s background and 2) it requires all DMEs to have the same type of tool and equipment leveling the testing playing field. I will admit the new tool list the FAA requires all DMEs to have will force many private DMEs to retire, as it will be not be cost effective to purchase all the things that a part 147 school has. As a result, for DMEs being affiliated with a part 147 school is a major plus since they all have the required tools and equipment to run their schools.

What I am seeing is if the O&P actually works as it is designed and intended to work, there is a 98% probability if you haven’t completed an approved 147 program you’re NOT going to get the A&P. The real world is our military professionals, and the vast majority of folks gaining hands on practical experience every day, and the industry at large will suffer.

I work in the helicopter industry, and as far as we’re concerned if it can’t hover, or fly backwards it’s not really aviation anyway. We have this young man in our 145 that started as a painter helper. Honestly mastered all aspects of the helicopter painting world. Said he wanted more, so we put him on the shop floor as a mechanic helper. The dude reads maintenance manuals for pleasure. Our shop is only approved for turbine helicopters. This individual has turned into one the finest helicopter mechanics I have seen in years. Inside turbine engines, inside gearboxes, rigging flight controls, track & balance, rock solid in every aspect. This boy doesn’t know a flap from an aileron, zero knowledge about pressurized aircraft, reciprocating engines, couldn’t identify a piece of dope & fabric if he had too, and knows nothing about turbo fans. But he’s “Rotor-Trash” extraordinaire on the latest and most advanced helicopters operating in the civilian sector.

Denny if the systems works this guy will never get an A&P because his knowledge and experience in the latest turbo shaft engines, hydro mechanical and electronic fuel controls, and 20th century composites isn’t enough, he’s required to prove his experience in carburetors on J-3 Cubs, do a punch test on dope & fabric, time a magneto, and describe the function of the 3 rings on a piston. So, until he acquires this knowledge and experience in this antiquated technology that is completely foreign to the realm of aviation where he stands among the best, he, his family, and the industry will suffer.

That’s NOT how I would describe a fair playing field. To me this is but another example where technology has advanced past the infrastructure that it should be facilitating and supporting. And what we are seeing is but another band-aid to a certification system that was introduced when a DC-3 was high-tech.

Likewise, the progressive turbine helicopter industry for the most part can’t and won’t hire a fresh graduate from an A&P school, because they are zero value to us. Who really needs an individual that aced the section on baseball stitching, and was 2nd in his class seating valves? When you ask them about their helicopter experience they tell you we had part of an old Bell 47 at the school, but we didn’t do much on it. We do better picking up sharp kids at Discount Tires, the local auto parts stores, and quick-lube. We get to see their work ethic in action and we monitor their attention to detail over a few visits. Offer him a couple bucks more an hour than he’s getting now, and begin the molding process.

Teaching dope and fabric in A&P school is like teaching folks to read a sun dial in a time management class.

A lot of the issues you mentioned I agree with. I just completed going through all of the 682 possible practical projects in the NEW Practical Test Standard (PTS) and researching all the data for each one. The FAA had decided to put some of the dope and fabric projects back because of the LSA category of aircraft and many use this process. All the FAA expects on the practical tests is the basic skills and nothing more. However, going through all the possible projects is did find a few in the turbine section that I would consider more than requiring basic skills.

Because of the new planning sheets that will have the 20 selected projects, I decided to look each and every one up and write down the reference from the NEW FAA handbooks or AC 43.13-1B where I found the reference for that project. What I did notice was all of the projects are the same as when I took my practical test 38-plus years ago with the exception of the composite materials and the new Human Factures on the written and oral test. The new FAA handbooks for the General, Airframe and Engine do cover all the subject areas pretty well with colored pictures now verse the old AC’s handbooks. All most all of the data is the same and some updated.

I really think any applicant can pass the oral and practical test if they take the NEW Practical Test Standard (PTS) and do what I did as a DME and look up each section and element. I realize this takes time and it took me three weeks straight to look up and read all the reference material and make a project sheets for each one. However the practical test is at the basic level and I wrote all my projects to that level and I would expect every applicant that tests to use the PTS as a study guide regardless if they went to a part 147 or obtain work experience.

Lastly, my best applicants have been former and current military applicants. If an applicant can read, follow directions (maintenance procedures) and not get hurt they will pass the practical tests. Each project will have reference data to read and follow this is part of the test and not getting hurt is the safety related part of the test. All I ask applicants is come prepared and not stress out. Stress is the biggest issue I see in all the applicants I have tested, but being prepared will certainly reduce the stress.

I copied from your last response

"However, when the FAA is evaluating military experience, aviation safety inspectors (ASI) and ASTs are not to accept MOSs, AFSCs, or NECs “carte blanche” as qualifications to accepting experience of § 65.77. Even though the MOSs suggest authorization, the applicant must have verifiable experience in 50 percent of the subject areas listed for the rating sought (refer to part 147 appendices B, C, and D) in order to be eligible."

I wish what you said about the 50% subject areas was true, I can tell you as a DME the FAA normally grants permission to test on a military specialty code (AFSC, MOS) only. The DME is left to be the bad guy taking money from a candidate that you know will never pass. Yes the way we test has changed, it has not changed the length of the exam in my experience, and the applicant has no idea what ares they will test, so they still need to be ready.
If you can find me where the applicant needs to have had experience on 50% of the areas listed in FAR part 147, I would be indebted to you.
DME's do play a critical part in our certification process and it is sad to see our veterans come completely unprepared. I don't think they need a full 147 program, however a 2 or 3 week prep program is normally not enough.
Just my 2 cents.

Reference FAA Order 8900.1 Volume 5, Chapter 5, Section 1
(1) Applicants will document a proportionate amount of experience directly applicable to the certificate and ratings sought. The applicant must have verifiable experience in 50 percent of the subject areas listed for the rating sought (refer to part 147 appendices B, C, and D) in order to be eligible.

It has been my experience as a former FAA inspector and now a DME that each ASI that performs the military interview does it a little different. However, each ASI is required to follow the Order 8900.1 as stated above during the interview process. I used to use military training records and ask question in the subject areas to get a good feel if the military applicant met the part 147 requirements.