As many may know the revised FAA Order 8900.2 changed the way Designated Mechanic Examiners (DMEs) currently perform exams for all Airframe and Powerplant applicants. The revised order has a required tool and equipment list all DMEs must meet or they cannot hold the designee authorization.
The new tool and equipment almost makes it impossible for DMEs to meet the new order requirements unless they are tied (facility) to a part 147 school that has both reciprocating and turbine engines as well as many other types of equipment. In the past year the tool and equipment list has been updated again. As a result of this requirement many DMEs across the county cannot or could not meet the requirement and their authorizations were not renewed last October by the FAA. What this means is there is fewer DMEs to test applicants and wait times can be as long as 6-months to test now.
In addition, the new requirement is for all DMEs to use the new planning sheets we download from the FAA testing data base for each applicant. The FAA computer system will pick all the oral questions as well as the 22 or 23 practical projects each applicant must pass the first time.
I have been using the new planning sheet for over a year now and it has increased my preparation time greatly as I do not know which practical projects an applicant will have to perform until I download their individual planning sheet (exam). All of the practical projects come from the NEW Practical Test Standard available for free download on the FAA website. There are a possible 862 practical projects and the FAA will pick 22 or 23 project in total that will cover all five section on the A&P practical exam.
The difference between 22 or 23 projects is some applicants will have two propeller projects instead of one. However, on all exam I have given there is always at least one propeller practical project.
The reason for the new tools and equipment list is to ensure the DMEs can have applicants perform any of the 862 possible practical projects. For this reason I unable to prepare an exam on very short notice as I have to go through the projects to make sure I have all the required tools, equipment and required date before scheduling a test date.
Just from my own experience I have found the failure rate among applicants has gone up. I have also noticed applicant seem to fail in common areas on the practical. Many of the projects are level (3) inspection and aircraft record entries. Many applicant do NOT know the difference between part 43.9 maintenance entry and a part 43.11 inspection record entry.
For all inspection record entries part 43.11 states the mechanic will write a statement the states “I certify” and what type of inspection was completed. The record entries may be a 100-hour inspection, Airworthiness Directive (AD), weight and balance or other type of inspection. Part 91 section §91.417 Maintenance records states what MUST be recorded for inspection including total time that is not required for part 43.9 maintenance entries, but is a good idea to record it.
As a former FAA field inspector I also found many A&P mechanics did not know how to make the proper record entries as required. Even today many Inspection Authorization (IA) make the mistake for not including the “I certify” for inspection record entries and this is a problem in the industry.
However, now on all most every exam I download one of the sections will require at least one record entry and often times more. Knowing how to perform the basic record entry is a requirement all A&P mechanics must master not only to pass the practical exam, but also to perform in the industry where aircraft records are everything.
If I could recommend on thing for all mechanics is to refresh their knowledge rereading part 43.11 and part 91.417 inspection requirements and making a simple checklist what must be included in their aircraft record entries.