The Practical Test Standards (PTS) series guides student pilots, flight instructors, and FAA-designated examiners through checkrides, or "oral and practical tests" -- the final stage in acquiring a pilot license or rating. Each PTS guide details the skill and knowledge prerequisites for passing the FAA exams, before an applicant can be issued a certificate or rating. The knowledge requirements list which subjects will be coveredwhich weather reports and forecasts candidates will be asked to analyze, which physiological conditions (such as dehydration, spatial disorientation, and hypoxia) candidates will need to discuss, and what kind of flight planning exercises will need to be demonstrated. The skill requirements include what kind of takeoff and landing must be performed, such as crosswind or short-field; how a steep turn should be executed, with specifics that include what bank angle and airspeed to use; and what areas will be tested on a continuous basis, such as the checklist usage, positive exchange of flight controls, and crew resource management. The tolerances are defined so the candidates know what altitude, airspeed, headings, and banks must be maintained to complete each maneuver successfully. Each PTS guide lists the knowledge and experience prerequisites for a particular certificate or rating and provides a list of background information and study and reference materials pertinent to the prerequisites listed. Also, the "Introduction" in each guide explains the details regarding preparations for taking exams and basic instructions on how to go about giving an exam (for instructors). Important Note: The FAA is allowing instructors and schools a time period to come up to the new standards by releasing this new PTS in February 2012, when it is not actually effective until June 2012. Until the effective date, the previous edition may still be used (and both editions will be sold).
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