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Designated Pilot Examiner Services

For Lighter-Than Air Pilot Exams 

Applicants must complete an application.  Two methods available, however IACRA is the preferred and cost-effective method.  IACRA stands for Integrated Airmen Certification and Rating Application.  Alternately, you may apply via FAA Form 8710, however be aware of the extra costs associated with processing your application via the 8710 paper form.  The extra fee is due to the extra time and reporting requirements imposed on the Designated Pilot Examiner post-test and represents the extra time required.


1.  Contact our Designated Pilot Examiner, Brian Trapp at our office or the direct line 513-480-6500.  

2.  Apply online via the IACRA web site (information below).

3.  Have your Recommending Instructor (RI) e-endorse your IACRA application.  Your RI also needs an IACRA login.

4.  Review the Qualification Checklist for the rating you're seeking, Private or Commercial.  

5.  Schedule your check-ride.  Due to the highly changing schedules, please telephone or email Brian directly.  You'll need to supply your FTN# in order to schedule.

6.  Prepare for the flight test!  Wanna know what we're going to do on a check ride?  Review and understand the latest Private or Commercial PTS! 

7.  Budget a time allotment to complete the entire check ride.  What do we do?  Take a look at the Check-Ride Format.

Lighter-Than-Air Designated Pilot Exam Rates:

Designated Pilot Services  IACRA  8710 Form 
 Private $350   $450
$450 $550
Flight Review $150  ---
 Travel Expenses By Quote Distance + Hotel 

IACRA Information:

IACRA Web site.  Note the information and links on the left side.  Specifically, the Available Certifications and Ratings show the order you will be prompted to fill out, when starting a new application.  Don't worry about making mistakes!  Either we can fix those or you can simply start another application.  You will need to create an IACRA username and password and you will need to bring that information with you to your check-ride, as you will be required to E-sign the application.  Your Recommending Instructor will also need a username and password in order to sign your application.  A Designated Pilot Examiner cannot view your application until the recommending Instructor E-Signs the application, hence your must complete and application, submit it AND have your RI endorse it. After those steps complete, then your application will be in a status accessible to a DPE.

Note Block II. Certificate or Rating Applied on the Basis of:

Generally, you seek a new Pilot Certificate by the completion of a required test (verses Military Competence, Graduated from an Approved Course, Foreign License* or an Air Carrier Program).  When answering this block, think N# specific.  This blocks' time asks for the specific balloon (by N#) time you have.  It is acceptable to bring a balloon you've never flown to a flight test, and in that case, the Flight Time and PIC time would be 0.0

*Foreign License conversion: If you hold a License from an ICAO country and seek a Private US LTA-Balloon Certificate, then yes, you apply based on the Foreign License conversion.  When applying via this method, you'll need to submit your application directly to a FSDO office verses a DPE, as this function may only be processed via an FAA office.

Note Block III.  Record of Pilot Time:

Be specific and DO fill out every item for the LTA category.  DO NOT leave blanks in the LTA row.  DO fill in the Number of Flights.  Just the LTA line only, see the example below, as your application should have your own numbers and the row complete, including Class Totals.  If you do not have any night time for example, place a 0 or 0.0 in that associated block.  Also remember to fill in the PIC and SIC time as needed, don't leave a blank.  You only need to fill in the LTA row and you do not need to fill in any other category unless you are using that time to qualify you for your the rating you are seeking (for instance you hold an ATP certificate and want to add Commercial LTA, you may use some of your ATP time to qualify you for the test).  When answering the LTA Class totals, don't forget LTA Class consists of Balloon and Airship.  Meaning, place a number in the Airship box as well, in order to complete the entire row, shown below. 

Your piloting time is expected to be recorded in 10ths of hours (6 minute intervals).  Do not use minutes or quarter-hours.  I.e. 1 hour and 15 minutes should be recorded as 1.3, not 1.25.  Since recorded time is expected to be recorded in 10ths and fifteen minutes/quarters of an hour end in a five, it's acceptable to round upward to the nearest 10th of an hour.  Similarly, if you noted that a flight occured with 1 hour and 14 minutes, you would record that as 1.2 (rounding down). 

Private Applicant Qualification Checklist:

Download, fill-in and send to Brian.

DPE-Private DPE-Private (14 KB)

Commercial Applicant Qualification Checklist:

Download, fill-in and send to Brian.

DPE-Commercial DPE-Commercial (64 KB)

Check-Ride Format:

Once your FTN# and Request Form received, we schedule your check-ride.  We budget 5 hour block of time, but don't worry, that's not a 5-hour check-ride!  The check-ride consists of 3 major parts:  The check-in/validation (about 45 minutes), the Oral portion (1-2 hours) and the Flight portion (1-2 hours).  The extra time allows for breaks between portions, commuting to and from launch/landing sites and post-flight debrief.  It's just a block of time to ensure enough time to complete the entire test in one sitting.  To be fair to each pilot applicant, we're required to schedule the check-ride as one block of time with the intent to complete the entire test, verses breaking up a test into an Oral portion at one time and the Flight portion at another time.  The FAA also recognizes that hot air balloon flights generally occur at sunrise, therefore it is acceptable to complete the Oral portion one afternoon, postpone the flight part due to any weather condition the applicant deems inappropriate (wind, etc.) and complete the flight part the following morning.  

Of course, where the weather doesn't appear to be favorable for both flight slots proposed, we can postpone the entire test.  In situations where we start the test (the oral portion) and cannot complete the test for uncontrollable reasons (weather), we discontinue the test and have 60 days to finish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1:  Can someone ride along the check-ride?
A:   No, except for an FAA Inspector.  (Ref: FAA Order 8900.2)  The FAA reserves the right to observe any DPE on any check-ride.  Therefore it is possible that an FAA Aviation Safety Inspector (ASI) attend a check-ride.  On rare occasions, an appointee of the FAA may observe a check-ride, once approved by an FAA Aviation Safety Inspector. 

Q2:  Can I schedule now and fill in IACRA later?
A:   No.  Please be aware we need your completed IACRA application and FTN# in order to schedule.  Additionally, if traveling, we need to process your DPE Expansion Request Form.

Q3:  How Long is the check ride?
A:   Just long enough!  Seriously, just long enough to cover the items in the PTS.  Oral portion can be 1-2 hours and the flight portion can be 1-2 hours.  Generally we budget a 5 hour block of time just to be sure we have enough time to complete the check-ride and allow for commute to launch/landing site(s), etc. 

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