Flight training organizations along with EAA and AOPA are urging the FAA to take a hard look at the availability and effectiveness of aviation knowledge tests. In 2018, the agency awarded an exclusive contract to PSI to administer the gamut of written tests. On Jan. 1, 2023, the company cut the fee it paid to third-party test facilitators and the group contends that some third-party testers have since quit, resulting in reduced access to the service. “Diminished access to testing could not come at a worse time. It is widely held that the availability of a diverse, qualified workforce is the biggest threat to growth in our industry,” the group said in a letter to the FAA. “Further barriers to testing will only exacerbate an already tenuous situation.”
The group is also questioning the level of service PSI is providing under the contract. “The quality of FAA knowledge test facilitation performed by PSI is also a concern,” the group said. “The [flight training] community has noticed a lack of progress toward benchmarks that are required under the test management services contract.” The group also alleges that PSI is notorious for poor customer service, further exacerbating the issues. “In short, PSI has obstructed the pilot and mechanic workforce pipeline and disrupted the aviation training community,” the letter reads.
The group has been in communication with PSI and said the company denies the allegations. It said PSI refused to provide data on testing availability, forcing the stakeholders to conduct surveys to gauge the impact of the pay reductions to third-party testing sites. PSI does include a list, updated regularly, of testing sites that are closed or otherwise unavailable, on its website.