Over the past several months, I have received many questions from A&P applicants about taking the Oral and Practical (O&P) tests and other questions concerning mechanic certification. I have made it a point to answer questions from applicants regardless if they use me as their Designated Mechanic Examiner (DME) or not.
Most of all the questions I have been asked are found in two FAA Orders 8900.1 Volume 5, Chapter 5, Section 2 and Order 8900.2A Designee Handbook Chapter 6.
Many applicants will know me as a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) maintenance inspector, however I am retired from the FAA and can no longer endorse the FAA Form 8610-2.
To become an aircraft mechanic, you must take oral and practical tests as well as written tests. There is a fee for the tests. A Designated Mechanic Examiner gives you the oral and practical test. You can get a list of these examiners at the local FAA office. The oral and practical tests cover 43 technical subjects. Typically tests for one certificate-airframe or power plant takes about 8 hours and for both ratings it is taking 9.5 to 15-hours to complete in most cases. How long it takes depends on the applicant being prepared the Oral and Practical can last up to four days only.
If you fail part of a test, you have to wait 30 days before you can take it again, unless you give a letter to the Examiner (DME) showing you've gotten additional training in the areas you failed. I provide all my applicants with a sample letter if they fail.
You must pass all the tests within a 24-month period and the clock starts when an applicant takes the first written test. If an applicant times out during an oral and practical they will have to retake the written test over before the DME can proceed with the oral and practical for that rating. This is why it is important for applicants to check the dates on their written tests and not wait until the last day to take an oral and practical test.
Below are several of the common questions I have been asked recently.
Question: As a DME can I perform Oral and Practical test in Japan where I live?
Answer: No, I can only perform Oral and Practical tests at the two facilities listed on my Certificate of Authorization in the San Francisco Bay Area. Each DME will be issued a Certificate of Authorization showing the place they can test. Ask your DME to see their Certificate of Authorization.
Question: My FAA Form 8610-2 was signed off over ten years ago is it still good to use for testing?
Answer: Yes, the FAA Form 8610-2 is still okay to use regardless how old it is.
Question: I was in the military and specialized in avionics can I only be tested in the avionics area?
Answer: No, and as of April 1, 2015 the FAA has a new planning sheet the DME will download with all the oral test questions preselected as well as the 20 practical projects the applicant must pass. The new Practical Test Standard (PTS) 26A, 27A, and 28A is available on the FAA web site that cover all of the practical subjects that are on the test. All DMEs must use the new planning sheet starting in September 2015 unless they have be converted like I have.
Question: Can I use any DME I want or do I have to go to one in the district I was signed off.
Answer: The applicant can use any DME they want, the DME will contact the FSDO or IFO the applicant was signed off and request authorization to test the applicant out of district. This is not an issue, but the DME must follow the required procedures in FAA Order 8900.2A for this.
Question: After the DME downloads the FAA planning sheet for the applicant can they provide a copy to the applicant?
Answer: NO, the NEW FAA planning sheet with all the oral test questions and projects is sent in with the applicant’s certification package to the managing office. NO copies can be made, so please do not ask for a copy from your DME.
Question: DME Fees- do all DMEs charge the same fee for testing?
Answer: No, each DME sets their own fee, so have a clear understanding with your DME about the fee before you take any test.
Question: Will the DME take a credit card or check to pay the testing fee?
Answer: Maybe, this will all depend on the DME. Some DMEs will take a credit card or personal check, and others only want cash for the testing service they provide. Discuss this with your DME before you test and have a clear understanding on how fees are collected and paid.
Question: If an applicant fails an oral section or practical project can they only retest in that section only?
Answer: With the NEW FAA planning sheet if you fail an element in any section you fail the entire section and must retest the whole section over. The DME will download a new planning sheet only for the section failed as well as the practical project/projects that may have been failed. This is a change from the old way of testing where you only retested the element you failed now the entire section must be retested.
It is incumbent on any applicant to have a clear understanding with the DME they use for their Oral and Practical test. I provide my applicants with an Overview Handout I wrote and send it to them by email in a PDF format. My overview explains what the FAA expects of me as a DME and what is expected of the applicants I test. There is no GRAY area with oral and practical testing I want my applicants to be informed of the procedures and expectations. I have found the more knowledge an applicant has the less stressful their oral and practical tests will be.
As an applicant sit down with your DME and have them explain their testing procedures to you. This is your test and your career don’t leave it to chance.