A recent letter to all PSI testing centers announced a drastic reduction in the amount paid to private FAA Testing Centers from $65 per test to only $22 per test (and potentially less if the candidate does not use the full allotted time). Our local testing center has already decided it cannot afford to stay open with this rate change. (And this test center provided income that helped support a local flying club). With this new lopsided PSI contract, only larger academies will be able to afford to maintain an FAA testing center; the others will wither away.
The FAA awarded PSI monopoly control of all FAA knowledge testing in June 2018. Their new contract with independent testing centers at local airports, effective Jan. 1, 2023, will essentially kill many of these approximately 800 local testing centers. There are huge costs to local businesses providing PSI tests: a quiet, dedicated room for testing, four computers (one required for monitoring), security systems (required), and live proctors present to qualify and monitor pilot applicants. There are also the associated business expenses of rent, insurance, heat, etc. In this contract, PSI only supplies the electronic test. By paying themselves $45 more dollars on 207,000 tests (2022) PSI is giving themselves quite a raise!
The current FAA testing revenue partially supports our local aviation infrastructure at small airports across America. These facilities not only provide testing, they also provide local flight training and a place for pilots to gather and socialize. Applicants for an FAA Knowledge Test will have to drive hours to test, while local clubs and schools will be scrambling for lost income. This avoidable “ wreck scenario” guts the local GA community. I encourage every reader of this blog to write immediately to the ACTS email “AirmanKnowledgeTesting[a]faa.gov” and object to this change. Join the list below to provide the strength of numbers.
I wrote to the FAA address pointing out all of the above issues, and signed onto the AOPA appeal (on behalf of all the “alphabets”). The FAA response to SAFE, basically said “we assigned a contractual monopoly to PSI with no control of how they should carry out their mission.” It seems the only specification was not raising the price to the testing candidate: very bad contract!
How the testing vendor decides to compensate testing centers, proctors, call center personnel, software engineers, administrative personnel, test content staff, or any other key position associated with carrying out the requirements in the SOW is at the complete discretion of the testing vendor and outside the scope of the FAA’s authority. FAA Reply
I’m not a lawyer, but assigning a monopoly contract with no protections for the end-user pilots seems like a pretty poor arrangement. GA will again suffer, just when the industry is finally experiencing a steady growth cycle. Get your local testing location on board by having them write the above address and also please join the list below. There is strength in numbers and we need to win this fight.
If you buy your holiday gifts from Amazon, please login to Amazon Smile. Amazon will contribute 0.5% to SAFE if you set it up and this donation costs you nothing!
Join SAFE and enjoy great benefits. You get 1/3 off ForeFlight and CloudAhoy! Your membership also supports our mission of increasing aviation safety by promoting excellence in education (we are an educational not-for-profit).
Our FREE SAFE Toolkit App puts required pilot endorsements and experience requirements right on your smartphone and facilitates CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed by SAFE specifically for CFIs (and is the best protection in the business).