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FAA Scandal Could Result In Hundreds Of Mandatory Pilot Retests

Former FAA Staffer/DPE Is Cause For 11 Years-Worth Of Pilot Retests

To be honest, we had a hard time believing this the first time we heard about it, but documentation now published by the FAA confirms that severe issues of an as yet unspecified nature is causing the FAA to force as many as several hundred pilots to be retested for checkrides they may have taken over the course of some 11 years.

The document states, "This notice provides current guidance to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation safety inspectors (ASI) on program policies and procedures for reexamining individuals holding pilot certificates with various ratings who were tested by Michael A. Puehler of Cincinnati, Ohio. The reexamination will ensure that these individuals meet the standards of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 61 to hold their certificates and/or ratings."

The reason?

"As a result of an investigation by the FAA of the certification activities of Mr. Puehler, the Administrator determined that there is reason to believe that the competency of the airmen examined by Mr. Puehler from the period of October 2008 through December 2019 is in doubt. As a result of the evidence obtained during the investigation, the FAA determined that these airmen will require reexamination of their competency pursuant with 49 U.S.C. § 44709 to ensure safety in air commerce."

While the FAA won't give us numbers specific to the number of pilots affected, the document does note...

"All airmen who were tested by and received certificates or ratings from Mr. Puehler during the cited time period (October 2008 through December 2019) will be reexamined by an FAA inspector. Airmen who renewed their Flight Instructor Certificates or reinstated their flight Instructor Certificate with Mr. Puehler are also included in this reexamination notice."

An airman may be exempted from the reexamination requirement only under the following specific conditions:

(1)    After having received certificates or ratings from Mr. Puehler,the airman was subsequently tested and received from another Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) or FAA inspector a higher-level U.S. certificate or rating in the same category and class as that previously issued by Mr. Puehler. This exemption is specifically limited to the following:

Certificate or Rating
Issued by Mr. Puehler

Subsequent Certificate or Rating Issued that Would Exempt Airman from Reexamination Requirement (Same Category and Class)

Recreational Pilot

Private Pilot or Commercial Pilot

Private Pilot

Commercial Pilot (NOT Airline Transport Pilot)

Commercial Pilot

No Relief

Instrument Rating

Airline Transport Pilot

Additional Class Rating at the Private Pilot Grade

Testing for that Same Class Rating at the Commercial Pilot Grade

Airline Transport Pilot

No Relief

Flight Instructor Initial Certification

No Relief

Flight Instructor Additional Ratings

No Relief

Flight Instructor Reinstatement

No Relief

Flight Instructor Renewal

Flight Instructor Renewal

 

(2)    Airmen in the process of taking an exam that meet the criteria set forth in this notice that would exclude them from a reexamination must contact the Cincinnati FSDO upon receipt of their letter. If the airman cannot complete the exam within 15 days of receipt of their letter, the airman must contact the Cincinnati FSDO and temporarily deposit his or her airman certificate at the FSDO in accordance with paragraph 8.

b.    Assigned Outside the United States and Its Trust territories. Relief from this reexamination requirement will be applied to U.S.military and civilian personnel who are assigned outside the United States and its trust territories in support of U.S. Armed Forces operations. The criteria for this relief will be the same as is offered in Special Federal Aviation Regulation(SFAR) 100-2; relief includes the opportunity to complete reexamination within 6 calendar-months after returning to the United States.

c.    Foreign Airmen. Foreign airmen who were issued certificates or ratings by Mr. Puehler during the cited time period are to be reexamined in the same manner as airmen in the United States. In many instances, the foreign airmen will have been issued foreign licenses based on their U.S. certificates. This notice does not authorize reexamination activity outside the United States. In order to be reexamined, foreign airmen will have to appear in the United states at their own expense.

A current verification letter will be required for either of the following actions:

(1)    Downgrade to remove the certificate or rating issued by Mr. Puehler, if that certificate or rating states “U.S. Test Passed.” (The original certificate was foreign based.)

(2)    The airman to be reexamined is in need of a replacement FAA certificate based on a foreign license(part 61, § 61.75).

The FAA is dealing with this aggressively... if pilots do not comply, or surrender their certificates, their tickets will be pulled...

"If the airman does not respond, or does not successfully complete reexamination and does not voluntarily surrender their certificate(s) and/or rating(s) for cancellation or downgrade, legal enforcement action must be taken in accordance with Order 2150.3. In accordance with that order, the enforcement investigative report (EIR) must reflect whether the legal enforcement action should be on an emergency basis; thus, evidence of the airman’s current ability to operate is necessary, including current status of FAA medical certification."

The document results in far more questions than answers... how did a situation this extreme NOT get resolved in less than 11 years? And what happens to a number of pilots who do not have the financial wherewithal to deal with this in the abbreviated terms listed above... especially in the middle of a global pandemic? Good grief... What really happened here?

More info to follow.

FMI: https://fsims.faa.gov/PICDetail.aspx?docId=N%208900.555

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