Common Questions About Designated Pilot Examiners (DPEs)


Designated Pilot Examiners (DPE) are FAA-designated aviation professionals who administer the practical tests necessary to receive a pilot license, certificates, and ratings. These exams include written tests as well as flight tests and skills evaluations. To become a DPE, an individual must meet certain qualifications established by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Is it hard to become a DPE? What are the requirements?

To become a Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) in the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has established certain requirements that a person must meet. These requirements include:

Experience: A DPE applicant must have at least 2 years of experience as a pilot in the category and class of aircraft for which they are seeking designation.

Certification: The applicant must hold a valid FAA pilot certificate in the category and class of aircraft for which they are seeking designation.

Medical Certificate: The applicant must hold a valid FAA medical certificate.

Training: The applicant must complete an FAA-approved DPE training course that covers the duties and responsibilities of a DPE.

Recommendation: The applicant must be recommended by the FAA Flight Standards District Office in the area they plan to work.

Background Check: The applicant must undergo a TSA security background check.

Continued Education: Once designated, the DPE must attend recurrent training and seminars to maintain their designation.

However, just meeting these requirements does not guarantee designation as a DPE. The FAA will carefully review each application and assess the candidate’s qualifications before making a decision. In addition, there is generally a long wait time to become a DPE. Personal story: My instructor just got a call from the FAA informing him that he’s been approved. He’s been waiting for over two years.

Is a DPE an FAA employee?

DPEs are not FAA employees, but rather private contractors who are designated by the FAA to provide various services.

What are the different types of DPE?

There are four types of designated pilot examiners: Primary Designated Pilot Examiners (PDPEs), Airman Designated Pilot Examiners (ADPEs), Designated Aviation Medical Examiners (DAMEs), and Designated Parachutist Examiners (DPEs). Primary DPE is the most common type and can conduct flight tests for all categories of aircraft. ADPEs can only administer flight tests for specific kinds of aircraft such as helicopters or gliders. DAMEs can only perform medical exams. DPEs are designated in each state and are responsible for conducting skydiver practical tests.

How many checkrides can a DPE do per day?

The number of checkrides a Designated Pilot Examiner is allowed to conduct per day depends on the particular circumstances. This is determined by the FAA at the time of appointment. Generally speaking, due to their complexity, DPEs may administer up to two checkrides in a day.

How long does a checkride take?

A checkride typically takes 1-2 hours depending on the complexity of the aircraft and the skills of the pilot. During that time, designated pilot examiners will assess a pilot’s knowledge, skill, and judgment in operating an aircraft by asking them questions about safety procedures and FAA regulations. Additionally, designated pilot examiners will also evaluate a pilot’s flying skills by having them demonstrate maneuvers. These will include maneuvers such as takeoffs, landings, turns, climbs, and descents. In most cases, DPEs will require a student to perform additional tasks such as simulated emergencies or navigation exercises.

At the conclusion of each checkride, designated pilot examiners must provide either a pass or fail grade. That grade is based on several criteria including aeronautical knowledge and skill proficiency. After receiving the DPE’s grade, the student has 14 days to complete any retesting that may be required before they can receive their license or rating. If a student fails a checkride they must wait 90 days before they can attempt it again.

Checkrides are important for ensuring that pilots are properly trained and qualified to fly safely and responsibly. Designated Pilot Examiners are vital in helping to ensure this safety by administering these tests efficiently while maintaining strict standards of accuracy.

How much does it cost for a DPE?

Designated Pilot Examiners typically receive payment for their services in the form of a fee paid by the student pilot. The cost varies depending on the type of license and aircraft used during the flight test. However, it is usually between $500-$1,000 for a private certificate and higher for commercial certificates.

What guidelines does a DPE follow during a checkride?

When administering a private pilot checkride, Designated Pilot Examiners must follow the guidelines established by the FAA. These standards are detailed in the Airman Certification Standards (ACS). The DPE must ensure that the applicant has met the necessary requirements and is qualified to safely operate an aircraft in accordance with federal regulations.

Before beginning the checkride, Designated Pilot Examiners will ensure that the student has received sufficient training and instruction. This includes navigation, aeronautical decision-making, and other aviation fundamentals. The designated examiner will also make sure that the student is familiar with the relevant parts of FAA regulations pertaining to visual flight rules (VFR) and instrument flight rules (IFR).

FAA Private Pilot Practical Test

During the practical test, DPEs will assess the applicant’s ability to perform various maneuvers under VFR conditions. These may include straight-and-level flight, turns about a point, climbing and descending turns, stalls and recovery techniques, slow flight, steep turns, and emergency procedures. Additionally, designated examiners may assess a student’s ability to navigate using both dead reckoning and electronic navigation equipment such as GPS receivers or electronic charts.

Designated examiners will also assess a student’s knowledge of airspace classification as well as airport operations. This includes demonstrating familiarity with standard operating procedures for takeoff and landing at airports located in Class B through G airspace as well demonstrating proficiency in air traffic control communication procedures.

In addition to assessing flying skills, DPEs must also evaluate an applicant’s knowledge of aviation safety principles. This includes conducting an oral examination on topics such as weather systems, aircraft emergencies such as engine failure, or electrical system malfunctions. DPEs may require applicants to demonstrate their knowledge of advanced concepts such as aerodynamics or advanced instrument flying techniques.

After all tasks have been successfully completed during a private pilot checkride DPEs are required to complete an official Form 8710-1 endorsement. This certifies that they have evaluated the applicant’s performance according to FAA standards and deem them qualified to receive their certificate or rating upon successful completion of application process.


Designated Pilot Examiners are essential professionals in the aviation industry who provide invaluable services to student pilots and prospective students alike. Becoming a DPE takes several months of preparation and meeting FAA qualifications. However, it is well worth the effort in terms of job satisfaction and earning potential. If you have any questions regarding Designated Pilot Examiners or how to become one, please contact your local FAA office.


As a lifelong lover of aircraft, I decided to share my journey of educating myself about aviation. Here you will find answers to many common questions asked by those new to flying.

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