Full Summary of FSANA DPE Pricing Survey Findings January 2018

About the Survey:

(You May Also Download a PDF of this Data by Clicking Here)

The Flight School Association of North America (FSANA) conducted a survey of individuals who have been involved with giving, taking, or recommending applicants for FAA practical tests.

The purpose of the survey was to accumulate a sufficient number of responses nationally to approximate the experience of pricing of a variety of practical test pricing parameters and attempt to determine if any aberrations in pricing experienced are present in various regional areas.

This survey was sent to potential respondents nationally and included responses from surveyed individuals who identified themselves as in the following breakdown:

This allowed for responses on the questions that will be presented below, along with the response data that was collected. In each question, the data was analyzed and any responses that selected "Unknown" were removed as respondents for that particular question. The final percentages were then calculated with completed responses only compared with the total of those responses received to calculate the percentage.

Survey Findings:

The first, most basic question that the survey, began with asking about pricing for the most common practical tests given. The question was as follows:

 

1

What is the current cost in your area for a private pilot, instrument pilot, or commercial pilot practical test in a single- or multi-engine airplane?

 

Under $350

9.03%

 

$351 - $450

25.42%

 

$451 - $550

29.86%

 

$551 - $650

19.72%

 

$651 - $750

10.56%

 

$751 - $850

4.03%

 

$851 - $950

0.69%

 

Over $950

0.69%

With the responses to this question, it is apparent that the majority of practical tests of this type find themselves experiencing a testing price between $351 - $550 on a national scale. This is also seen graphically in the following graphic:

The next question asked was dealing with the question of pricing related to INITIAL CFI certification. The question was as follows:

2

What is the current cost in your area for an INITIAL Certificated Flight Instructor practical test in a single- or multi-engine airplane?

 

Under $500

10.95%

 

$551 - $650

16.14%

 

$651 - $750

10.95%

 

$751 - $850

14.99%

 

$850 - $950

10.37%

 

$951 - $1,050

14.12%

 

$1,051 - $1,150

3.75%

 

$1,151 - $1,251

4.61%

 

$1,251 - $1,351

0.58%

 

Over $1,351

2.31%

 

Free - only the FSDO conducts them.

11.24%

The responses to this question indicated a more broad average pricing experienced on a national scale. This is also seen graphically below, but will be discussed in more detail on a regional breakdown later in this analysis:

A following question asked about pricing for an ADD-ON practical test for a CFI that would add privileges to an initial CFI certificate that was already held. The question was as follows:

3

What is the current cost in your area for an ADD ON (such as an instrument instructor) Certificated Flight Instructor practical test in a single- or multi-engine airplane?

 

Under $350

7.78%

 

$351 - $450

22.16%

 

$451 - $550

33.23%

 

$551 - $650

17.07%

 

$651 - $750

11.68%

 

$751 - $850

6.29%

 

$851 - $950

1.80%

The data on this question indicated a national average again between $351 - $550 for ADD ON CFI practical tests. This is visible graphically as follows:

In an effort to specifically address any differences that may be experienced in practical test pricing in ROTORCRAFT, two questions were asked. The following questions and graphics detail the responses secured in relation to these questions:

4

What is the current cost in your area for a private pilot, instrument pilot, or commercial pilot practical test in a ROTORCRAFT?

 

Under $350

7.59%

 

$351 - $450

10.13%

 

$451 - $550

20.25%

 

$551 - $650

26.58%

 

$651 - $750

17.72%

 

$751 - $850

10.13%

 

$851 - $950

7.59%

5

What is the current cost in your area for an initial or add-on Certificated Flight Instructor practical test in a ROTORCRAFT?

 

Under $500

13.79%

 

$551 - $650

25.86%

 

$651 - $750

12.07%

 

$751 - $850

3.45%

 

$850 - $950

6.90%

 

$951 - $1,050

6.90%

 

$1,051 - $1,150

0.00%

 

$1,151 - $1,251

3.45%

 

$1,251 - $1,351

1.72%

 

Over $1,351

8.62%

 

Free - only the FSDO conducts them.

17.24%

 

Recognizing that some practical tests are less commonly conducted in specialty aircraft operational environments, the survey sought to garner responses on tests for certificates or ratings such as Gliders, Sea-planes, Gyroplanes, Warbirds, etc.

6

Some ratings and certificates must be tested by more specialized examiners, which may be limited in number. What is the current cost in your area for a practical test in things such as gliders, sea-planes, gyroplanes, warbirds, etc.?

 

Under $350

25.00%

 

$351 - $450

25.00%

 

$451 - $550

22.41%

 

$551 - $650

10.34%

 

$651 - $750

6.03%

 

$751 - $850

2.59%

 

$851 - $950

1.72%

 

Over $950

6.90%

The following graphic depicts this data and would seem to indicate that the average pricing for these tests is lower than the average pricing for most of the other types of practical tests.

Along with asking about initial testing experiences, the survey sought to determine what type of pricing was experienced on retest efforts when an applicant was issued a disapproval on a first attempt with the following questions:

7

What is the current cost in your area for a RETEST of a pilot after failure for typical ratings such private pilot, instrument pilot, or commercial pilot single- and multi-engine practical tests?

 

Under $200

18.45%

 

$201 - $300

27.78%

 

$301 - $400

18.85%

 

$401 - $500

7.94%

 

Over $500

1.98%

 

Full test price again

13.69%

 

No charge for retests

11.31%

The data collectively indicates nationally that most retests are conducted at lesser charge than the original testing fee, but in some cases that there are cases where a full initial testing fee is again charged, and in limited cases that retests are not charged an additional fee. This is visible in the following graphical depiction:

When the same question was asked of retests related to initial CFI certification,  the data indicated that greater fees were charged than on more commonly conducted pilot certification testing.

8

What is the current cost in your area for a RETEST of an INITIAL CFI after failure for the first attempt on a practical test?

 

Under $200

9.36%

 

$201 - $300

12.34%

 

$301 - $400

17.87%

 

$401 - $500

16.17%

 

Over $500

13.62%

 

Full test price again

17.45%

 

No charge for retests

13.19%

This is graphically visible in the following chart that shows that the retest rates were higher in CFI certificate retests in a general national sense.

In a following question, FSANA sought to evaluate what types of payment were commonly accepted by designated pilot examiners around the country. The following question indicates what types of payments were reported as accepted by DPEs:

9

What forms of payment do examiners accept for payment of practical testing services?(Select all that apply)

 

Cash

93.46%

 

Check

51.11%

 

Credit/Debit Cards

11.50%

 

Paypal

2.88%

 

Paid through the Flight Training Provider / FBO

8.24%

 

Trade

0.65%

The responses indicate that almost all examiners accept cash payments, that a majority accept checks, and that a much lower percentage are willing or potentially able to accept other forms of payment as asked in the question.

Further analyzing the data received, FSANA sought to determine if any pricing variations were experienced from the national averages based on regions in which a test was conducted. For the purposes of this evaluation, states from which responses were gained were broken into the following regions for further comparison:

The initial question of average pricing for the most common practical tests given was then graphically depicted, comparing the average price experienced in a region with the national average price.

It is visible from this graphic that pricing does vary by region, with some regions experiencing higher average testing prices than others for practical tests.

 

The same comparison was graphed to compare pricing of initial CFI testing in regions relative to the national norm also. This additionally showed that pricing did vary from the national norm by regional experiences.

 

Retest fees were also evaluated in regions for both the most common practical tests, and for CFI related practical testing retests. The following two graphs additionally show that some regions do experience higher than national average, and higher than other regions, testing fees for practical test retests.

 

To further evaluate the testing experiences in a regional sense, four smaller samples were evaluated in high density pilot training environments. These were California, Florida, Texas, and a combined Arizona-Nevada data sets.

 

When considering the data reported on the most common and initial CFI practical test experiences in these subsets, it is visible from the data reported that each of these does vary from the national norm, with experiences reported  indicating higher practical test pricing as demonstrated in the following graphs.

 

Conclusions:

The survey data presented here does indicate that there are variations in pricing throughout the country in nearly all types of test that are visible on regional and state-based breakdowns.

These experiences reported will allow flight training providers, DPEs, and applicants to better understand average pricing for practical tests both nationally and in their regional areas.

A downloadable pdf of this summary is available by clicking here.