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FAA to change policy for the use of flight simulators

Aviation training devices like this one at the Medallion Foundation, are used for navigation, procedural, and decision making training.
Aviation training devices like this one at the Medallion Foundation, are used for navigation, procedural, and decision making training.
Photo by Rob Stapleton/Alaskafoto

Just when the aviation education industry is embracing aviation training devices for practice, decision making and proficiency training--the Federal Aviation Agency is considering reducing their use for flight training requirements.

According to the Federal Register the FAA is considering a policy change that will affect aviation training devices known as ATDs, PCATDS, and FTDs (flight training devices) by restricting their use for log able time toward a rating.

ATDs have proven to be a successful training device that reduces expensive inflight training, reduces fuel consumption and aids the learning process of students, according to Society of Aviation and Flight Educators.

The Federal Register posted the change of policy and opened up a comment period on Jan. 2, 2014 that will expire on Feb. 3, 2014.

How will the ATDs and users be affected?

Devices that were approved by the FAA between July 14, 2008 and August 23, 2013 have been assessed under the current standards in FAA Advisory Circular 61-136; however, these devices may not contain the current regulatory limits of FAR Part 61.65(i) or part 141 Appendix C, according to the Federal Register.

Any Letter of Authorization issued after July 14, 2008, may be reissued without the need for additional evaluation. Manufacturers must, however, submit a letter to the General Aviation and Commercial Division (AFS-800), including a copy of the original authorization, requesting a revised LOA that will contain regulatory references that reflect current requirements. If the LOA contains an expiration date, this new authorization will retain the original expiration date.

For LOAs originally issued without an expiration date, the new LOA will reflect a five-year expiration date.

The new LOA will replace and supersede the previous authorization. However, as noted, the FAA will continue to accept applicants for the instrument rating practical test who need to credit more than 10 hours of instrument time in an ATD to meet the minimum aeronautical experience requirements until January 1, 2015.

ATDs authorized before 2008 will need new LOAs and application must be made before July 1, 2014.

All devices (including ground trainers, PCATD, FTD level 1-3, and ATDs) for which an LOA (or any other official method of approval) was issued prior to July 2008 must be reevaluated under the standards set forth in the current advisory circular.

Manufacturers of these devices will be required to demonstrate that the device meets the current standards for ATDs set forth in AC 61-136. The manufacturer must request this evaluation by the means described in AC 61-136 no later than July 1, 2014, in order to ensure that the FAA has adequate time to evaluate the device and issue a new LOA before the existing LOA terminates on January 1, 2015.

The FAA cannot guarantee that applications for reissued LOAs that are received after July 1, 2014, will be processed prior to the termination date. The LOAs reissued for these devices will be revised to contain expiration dates and federal requirements.

This means that experience obtained in these devices may no longer be credited toward aeronautical experience or currency requirements in parts FAR Part 61 individual flight instructions and Part 141 certified flight school instruction.

For more information go to the Federal Register Comment Section

Rob Stapleton can be reached at: robstapleton(at)alaska.net