June 30, 2021
NBAA has published an online Virtual Part 135 Checkride Best Practices Guide to help operators facilitate flight checks via the use of video and communications technology (VCT).
The guide, which is available only to association members, is in response to the FAA’s decision to allow virtual checkrides for Part 135 operators to alleviate COVID-19-related delays many operators faced waiting for the required in-person FAA checkrides.
Many small operators count on the FAA to complete various airman checking tasks. However, due to the pandemic, as well as staffing shortages, the FAA for the most part suspended in-cockpit checkrides across much of the U.S.
“We were hearing from our membership that the FAA was starting to conduct these virtual checkrides, but FAA inspectors often didn’t know where to start the process,” said Michael McCullough, assistant director of operations for Aviation Resource Management, Inc., and chair of NBAA’s Part 135 subcommittee. “Our committee decided to take a proactive step and create a document offering some recommended guidelines for VCT 135 checkrides.”
The guide provides information for Part 135 operators who want to work with their local FAA FSDOs to accomplish 135.299 line VCT checks. McCullough said the FAA has not endorsed or approved the document, but has reviewed it and submitted comments. “We know they are pleased with what they’ve seen,” he added.
Operators should work with their principal operations inspector to determine when a virtual checking event meets their needs. In those cases where the operator and the inspector agree that it does, the guide is designed to assure the highest possible level of operational safety while also maintaining the overall quality, integrity and effectiveness that would occur during a traditional checkride.
“It’s very exciting that the FAA is adopting new methods for business aircraft operators to accomplish required checks,” said Hall Lewallen, director of training for Pinnacle Aviation, member of the Part 135 subcommittee and co-author of the guide. “In the case of VCT events, it allows an operator to have greater flexibility for accomplishing an event and even enhanced oversight, so it’s a total win-win.”