Introduction to Airman Certification Standards

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the governing body that oversees all aspects of civil aviation in the United States, including pilot certification. One of their most recent initiatives is the introduction of the Airman Certification Standards (ACS), the next evolution in pilot certification.

The Airman Certification Standards (ACS) is a comprehensive framework that thoroughly outlines the knowledge, skills, and risk management elements that pilots need to demonstrate to qualify for a certificate or rating. It incorporates the traditional Practical Test Standards (PTS) and adds relevant safety information, scenario-based training, and a single-source reference for all certification standards.

Understanding the Airman Certification Standards (ACS) is crucial for aspiring pilots, as it sets a new standard for pilot certification. It is also essential for flight instructors, as it provides a clear path for teaching and evaluating students.

The Importance of Airman Certification Standards

The FAA introduced the ACS to address the challenges of modern flight training and to enhance the safety and competency of pilots. Traditional pilot training methods heavily focused on rote learning and performing maneuvers without contextualizing how these skills are applied in real-world flight situations.

The ACS bridges this gap by integrating aeronautical knowledge, flight proficiency, and risk management in a comprehensive and practical approach. It ensures that pilots are not only technically competent but are also well-equipped to make sound decisions in various flight conditions and scenarios.

Moreover, the ACS provides a performance-based standard that holds both the student and the instructor accountable. It sets clear expectations for what a pilot should know, consider, and do to successfully pass a certification test. Thus, it significantly contributes to enhancing the safety and quality of flight operations.

How does Airman Certification Standards work?

The ACS is a guide that outlines the standards for knowledge and skills required for different pilot certificates and ratings. It consists of several sections, each addressing a specific area of operation or task. Each task is further divided into three components: Knowledge, Skill, and Risk Management.

Knowledge refers to the understanding of concepts, principles, and information pertinent to the task. Skill pertains to the ability to perform the task to a specified level of competence. Risk Management involves the identification, assessment, and mitigation of risks associated with the task.

The ACS works by integrating these three components in a practical, scenario-based approach. During the certification test, the examiner presents various scenarios to the applicant, who must then demonstrate their knowledge, skill, and risk management abilities to resolve the situation effectively and safely.

Traditional Method vs Airman Certification Standards

Traditional pilot certification relied primarily on the Practical Test Standards (PTS), which focused on the demonstration of maneuvers and procedures. While the PTS ensured technical proficiency, it fell short in addressing the complexity of real-world flight operations and the crucial role of decision-making and risk management.

The introduction of the ACS marks a significant shift in pilot certification. It integrates the PTS and expands it to include the application of knowledge and risk management. Under the ACS, pilots are trained and assessed not only on their ability to fly but also on their understanding of why and how they fly.

Moreover, the ACS provides an all-in-one reference for all certification standards, eliminating the need to refer to multiple sources. It aligns the standards with the FAA’s educational materials, making the learning and certification process more streamlined and efficient.

Benefits of using Airman Certification Standards

The ACS offers numerous benefits for both flight students and instructors. For students, it provides a clear roadmap of what they need to learn and demonstrate to pass the certification test. It enhances their understanding of flight operations and improves their decision-making and risk management skills, ultimately making them safer and more competent pilots.

For instructors, the ACS provides a structured and standardized teaching approach. It allows them to effectively guide their students through the learning process and accurately assess their performance. Furthermore, it enhances the relevance and effectiveness of flight training by integrating theory and practice in real-world scenarios.

Lastly, the ACS benefits the aviation industry as a whole. By raising the standards of pilot certification, it contributes to enhancing flight safety and the overall quality of flight operations.

Steps to get certified through Airman Certification Standards

Getting certified through the ACS involves several steps, starting with studying the ACS for the desired certificate or rating. This includes understanding the knowledge, skill, and risk management standards for each area of operation and task.

Next is flight training, where the student applies what they’ve learned in practical situations. The instructor uses the ACS as a guide to teach and evaluate the student’s performance and progress.

Once the student has met all the ACS standards, they then take the FAA knowledge test and the practical test. The examiner uses the ACS to assess the student’s knowledge, skills, and risk management abilities. If the student successfully passes both tests, they receive their pilot certificate or rating.

Resources for preparing for Airman Certification Standards

There are various resources available for preparing for the ACS. The FAA provides the ACS documents for different certificates and ratings, which are freely available on their website. These documents outline the standards and provide the basis for both self-study and flight training.

In addition, the FAA offers handbooks, manuals, and advisory circulars that align with the ACS and provide detailed information on various aviation topics. Online platforms and flight schools also provide ACS-based training courses and study materials.

Lastly, flight instructors are valuable resources in preparing for the ACS. They guide students through the learning process, provide feedback, and help them understand and apply the ACS standards in practical situations.

Success Stories: Pilots Certified through Airman Certification Standards

Since the introduction of the ACS, numerous pilots have successfully earned their certificates and ratings using this new standard. These pilots report a deeper understanding of flight operations and increased confidence in their decision-making and risk management skills.

Flight instructors also attest to the effectiveness of the ACS in enhancing the quality of flight training. They appreciate the structure and clarity it provides, and they find it easier to teach and evaluate their students.

Overall, the ACS has received positive feedback from the aviation community. It is recognized as a progressive and effective approach to pilot certification, contributing to improved flight safety and competency.

FAQ about Airman Certification Standards

The ACS is a relatively new concept, and many people have questions about it. Some commonly asked questions include:

What is the difference between the PTS and the ACS?
How does the ACS enhance flight safety?
What are the steps to get certified through the ACS?
What resources are available for preparing for the ACS?

The FAA provides answers to these questions and more in their ACS documents and on their website. Additionally, flight instructors and flight schools can provide information and guidance on the ACS.


The ACS represents the future of pilot certification. It offers a comprehensive, practical, and safety-enhancing approach that ensures pilots are well-equipped to handle the complexities of modern flight operations.

With the ACS, the FAA has set a new standard for pilot certification—one that prioritizes understanding over rote learning and integrates knowledge, skill, and risk management in a meaningful and efficient way.

As more pilots are trained and certified under the ACS, we can expect to see further improvements in flight safety and quality. The ACS is indeed the #1 ultimate new way to certify pilots.

Contact us or call Florida Flyers Team at +1 904 209 3510 to become a certified successful pilot.