Real Answers from Real Pilots

DPE's vs Inspectors

Hey guys,

So the other day, I went into my local FSDO to get my temporary certificate for my AGI (easiest license I think I’ll ever get :slight_smile:). Anyway, the Inspector who was assigned to me to review my test scores/sign my certificate asked me about my future plans, and I was happy to tell him about my start date with ATP. He had nothing but good things to say about the program and knew quite a few graduates, even though he had gone the aviation university route. I asked him about the whole “examiner shortage” deal, and he confirmed that it is pretty bad right now. He then said that a great way to save some cash during flight training is by using FAA Inspectors instead of DPE’s since they are government employed and don’t charge.

This guy was super helpful and we had a good chat about all things aviation. It’s funny because all the guys at my local flying club stereotype the Inspectors as bitter guys who are looking for ways to bust unsuspecting students on check rides. So I was just wondering, did any of you former/current students ever use an FAA Inspector for a check ride at ATP? I’m not even sure that ATP allows students that option, as they say to put aside a couple thousand for the DPE cost. I mean, heck, our tax dollars pay their salaries, so we may as well use them, right? :wink:

I’m not sure if it’s everywhere, but it takes a very long time to get a check ride with them in my area. One student was waiting for one several months from what I understand.


Fair question and I suspect someone from ATP Admin may chime in. Until then I had this conversation with a friend of mine who’s a DPE (he’s actually one of the DPE’s ATP uses). While the inspector you met at your local FSDO may be ready and willing to give you a checkride, the vast majority are not (hence the very reason the FAA created the DPE position). FAA inspectors wear a variety of hats and have many responsibilities and apparently taking a half a day to do a checkride is not an efficient use of FAA resources since the FAA Inspector shortage is worse than the DPE (just check the USA Jobs website, you’ll see HUNDREDS of openings). From what I understand scheduling a checkride with the FAA would further delay the time frame. On a side note I do agree the FAA (aka Feds) get a bad rap as most I have met are quite pleasant and helpful. They are some of the best airmen alive and I would NEVER EVER say anything disparaging about these EXTRAORDINARILY fine group of people (so please leave me alone!).



In the CFI phase of the program, initial CFI checkrides typically must be requested through the FSDO instead of directly with DPEs. ATP handles this for you, but it means that, depending on where you are, you may get an FAA Inspector instead of DPE. It’s all at the FSDOs discretion.

There are a few “horror stories” that become disproportionately popular, but by and large, whether DPE or FAA Inspector, you will get a thorough and fair checkride. A lot of students are happy when they draw an inspector because they can save $750-$1000 in examiners’ fees.