As of June 15, 2016, the FAA has changed from PTS/Knowledge tests to the Airmen Certification Standards which is a relatively significant paradigm shift in how airmen are certified.

The underlying reason to move to the ACS was to evolve the outdated PTS (practical test standards) and to align airmen certification towards risk management and the existing national airspace system.

The question I have though is for people who have earned their certificates under the old PTS system and would like to add a rating like an Instrument rating, or another certification like commercial.

Will the new ACS make it more difficult for existing pilots to add ratings? I'd like to know from the standpoint of part 141 and part 91 training centers.

One of the reasons I ask is I went up with my CFI last week and went into some slow flight. I set up to bring the aircraft into the stall buffet and fly it a few knots above stall speed but he said that the new ACS said that the stall horn cannot sound during slow flight, which seems counter intuitive to me. The point of slow flight is to know how to handle the aircraft at or near stall. There is a lot of handling difference between VS0 and VS0+20kts.

So that got me thinking, what would I have to relearn in pursuit of an instrument rating that would make it harder that I probably wouldn't have to under the old PTS?

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    $\begingroup$ I took my instrument rating airplane knowledge test today. I had never seen anything like a good many of the questions and I've gone through many practice tests and over 500 pages of questions from the test bank. I passed but it seemed harder to me than any of the practice tests I took. (ACS went into effect less then two weeks ago but I don't know how it has affected the written tests) $\endgroup$
    – Pugz
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 2:06
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    $\begingroup$ I think it's tough to answer this. Asking about specific differences between PTS and ACS tasks or criteria is clear, but asking if something is now more difficult seems very subjective. For example, in your stalling scenarios the ACS isn't any more difficult as such, it's just different. I understand that might be annoying for someone about to take a checkride, but I don't know if there's really a question there. Perhaps if you focus on identifying differences between the PTS and ACS you might get a better response. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 14:51

1 Answer 1


Not significantly. The fundamentals of evaluation have not changed, and certainly the fundamentals of your next rating haven't changed. A few of the specific tasks have changed between PTS and ACS, like the point you raise. And, yes, you will need to review the ACS or PTS (whichever is in effect for your next rating -- not all have transitioned) in detail, so that you're aware of what's expected of you.

The major parts of any checkride will be your basic knowledge of the subject, your ability to move the aircraft through the air to standard, your ability to demonstrate sound judgment including a thorough evaluation of pre-flight risks and your overall attitude toward flying. That really hasn't changed with the ACS. The regulations have not changed either. The ACS is meant to give instructors and examiners a more holistic approach to evaluate the above factors.


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