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Navigating FAA Updates, PHAK Preview, and Protips

April 2024

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New ACSs and PTSs effective May 31, 2024.

The FAA published new ACSs and PTSs into a new FAR. FAR 61.14.  They all become effective on May 31, 2024.  There are changes, of course, but a lot is the same.  I have included in this newsletter a list of major changes in the new Flight Instructor Airplane ACS.  Changes to the Private, Instrument, and Commercial are centered around the Risk Management section.  The FAA rewrote phrases like “Fails to perform a proper preflight” with “Knowledge required to perform a proper preflight.”  They said the way it was written was more of a completion standard and didn’t fit into risk management.  Not a huge deal.  

There is an interesting change in the Instrument Rating Airplane ACS. There is no mention of substituting an LPV approach for an ILS approach.  This is because they finally defined what a precision approach is.  It’s  “a published instrument approach procedure that has lateral and vertical guidance with a published DA.”  So, an LPV approach has lateral and vertical guidance and a DA, so it can be used.  They also removed that the DA needed to be not higher than 300 ft, so any works now.  This could really change the testing and efficiency of training in the Phoenix Valley because they only have two ILS approaches that they can use.  The LPV approaches didn’t go low enough to substitute for an ILS, but now that isn’t the case.  This should also relieve the stack procedures at the Casa Grande airport, which is an accident waiting to happen.  This is a non-towered airport where pilots go into a holding pattern over the Standstead VOR spaced every 500 feet.  You are in a “stack.”  You descend in the stack once the pilot that is up for the approach announces final approach fix inbound.  It’s crazy.

Here is a list of the Flight Instructor Airplane ACS Significant Changes from the PTS Version:

  1. Risk management is included in every task, including the FOI.

  2. Some FOI Tasks have been retitled and differ from the PTS version.

  3. Certificates and Documents Task replaced with Pilot Qualifications.  Now includes Sport Pilot and BasicMed.

  4. Weather Information now includes an option to test Weather Theory.  The GFA is also listed in this section.

  5. Navigation and Cross Country Flight Planning Task now explicitly says that a computer-generated flight plan is acceptable.

  6. The previous Weight and Balance Task is removed.  Weight and balance is now included in the Performance and Limitations Task.

  7. The Principles of Flight Task now includes - Forces acting on an airplane.

  8. In the Preflight Lesson on a Maneuver to be Performed in Flight - The applicant can use previously prepared lesson plans from their library.

  9. Slow Flight, Stalls, and Spins—Now includes two methods. The first is the same as for Private/Commercial—not activating a Stall Warning System. The second method is a demonstration of Flight Characteristics at Various Configurations and Airspeeds. Flying at the slowest possible speed and then lowering the pitch attitude to increase speed, return to level flight, and note the new airspeed and altitude loss. Either of the two methods can be selected by the examiner.

  10. The secondary Stall Demonstration must be to a Full Stall.

  11. During a renewal or reinstatement, the examiner evaluates the period of inactivity and determines whether the testing of the FOI is appropriate.

  12. 14 CFR and Publications now require testing of INFOs and SAFOs.

  13. Endorsements and Logbook entries now include SFAR, Class B endorsements, and CFI renewal and reinstatement requirements.

  14. High Altitude Operations now have two separate tasks—one for supplemental oxygen and the other for pressurization.

New Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge is scheduled for June.

According to our last words with the FAA, a new version of the PHAK will be released in June 2024.  We don’t have confirmation of the day, and they could hold it up if there is any good reason to do that.  Of course, it won’t be shorter.  At a whopping 522 pages it covers the aeronautical knowledge from Student Pilot through ATP and CFI.  In my opinion, it’s way too dense for a student or Private Pilot in training.

As an instructor, there isn’t a clean way to tell your student to read the aerodynamics section and skip certain paragraphs or pages. It doesn’t play well like that. The only success I have had with this issue is to have the student use an online course, then, after they finish the aerodynamics lessons, read the PHAK in that area and skip what wasn’t covered in the online course. That seems to work better.

If the new PHAK FAA-H-8083-25D looks anything like the Airplane Flying Handbook or other new FAA handbooks, it is likely to be a single-column document as well. Currently, it is two columns.

In case you don’t know or care, the FAA doesn’t write the handbooks themselves. They set the content to be written, but they contract the actual writing and images to a company, usually Jeppesen.


  1. It’s thunderstorm season in Florida in a few weeks.  There are airmass and frontal types.  Airmass ones develop due to heating, stay stationary for a while, and then move with the wind.  They can be enormous.  Frontal types are caused by cold air from a cold front burrowing under the warm air ahead and throwing it up.  The faster the front moves, the bigger the storm.  Give all thunderstorms a wide berth.  Twenty miles is a reasonable distance.  Also, if possible, fly on the side of the thunderstorm that doesn’t have the anvil.  Hail can go a long way, even if the sky looks clear.

  2. If you fly an airplane with a castering nosewheel, like a Cirrus, Diamond DA20 or 40, Grumman Tiger, or Cheeta, chocking the nosewheel only won’t work.  The nosewheel can pivot on its own due to wind and kick out the chock.  Chock the main wheels on both sides and tie down the wings and tail.

  3. After completing an official CFI class, you’ll probably want to do some self-study.  Do this so you do not waste time or keep memory items in your head too long, so you’ll need to restudy them.  Study the things you know first, like aeromedical, principles of flight, airspace, etc.  A few weeks before the test, study the FOI and any memorization and follow that with the CFI-centric stuff like endorsements, etc.  You won’t need to keep all of the new things in your head for as long this way.

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