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Passing the FAA's Oral and Practical Exam

What to expect from the Designated Mechanic Examiner (DME).


You're all most there! You have studied hard, you have all the FAA's necessary prerequisites and have passed the airframe, powerplant and general written test. Now all that stands in your way is the oral and practical exam. This is the final phase of your certification process.

There is a fee for the O & P exam, check with the DME for current pricing. You can find a list of examiners at the FAA's web site or your school can provide you with a list of area DMEs and make an appointment for you.

Please Note: All Exams Are conducted in the English language as per FAR 65.71. you must be able to read, write, speak and understand English to take a test.

Be prepared, the test are not easy, (they should not be, holding a A & P certificate is a big responsibility). The oral and practical tests cover 43 technical subjects.

The examiner will want you to demonstrate that you understand basic principles, practices and procedures in aircraft maintenance and repair. If you have had little practical experience in airframes, turbine or reciprocating engines, we recommend that you attend a prep school that has hands on training, (you can find a list qualifying schools on our Schools / Training Page).

In the oral portion of the test the examiner will ask a series of oral questions, many of the subjects you have all ready had and passed in your written test, however don't expect the questions to be worded the same.

The practical portion of the exam is where you actually demonstrate that you understand and can perform basic airframe and powerplant task, repairs and maintenance to required standards. This may include engine trouble shooting, reciprocating engine compression testing and timing, riveting, rivet layout, electrical trouble shooting, selecting proper tools and hardware ECT.

By FAA regulations the examiner will not trick you, ("hey, go put this piston in that turbine engine"). Also he must have available the maintenance manuals for any aircraft, engine, propeller or equipment that he or she ask you to work on. If you need specific information, ask for and refer to the maintenance manual.

If you fail part of a test, all is not lost. You will only have to retake the part(s) you failed in. You have to wait 30 days before you can retake the test, unless you give a letter to the examiner showing you have received additional training in the areas you failed from a school or certified a and p. You must pass all the tests within a 24-month period. The FAA will then issue you a certificate.


The Day of the Exam

The exam typically takes 1 or 2 days, check with the examiner then make your necessary plans for travel, hotel reservations, days off from work ECT.

If you are traveling out of town to take the O & P test, try to arrive at your destination the day before the exam. Find out where the examiner's facility is and how to get there.

Important: Before leaving home be certain that your photo identification matches exactly your FAA paperwork. Candidates have driven hundreds of miles to the examiners location then turned away because the identification
did not match.

If you are attending a prep school, try to schedule your appointment as soon as possible to the completion of the course, while all the information you have learned is still fresh, your school should work with you to accomplish this.

Now relax, do what it takes, treat yourself to a good dinner, see a movie and get a good nights sleep.

Most important of all, BE ON TIME. Nothing could be worse than to get off to a bad start with your examiner.
Try to arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled exam.


Further Reading

The FAA's Oral and Practical Test Standards

The files below are in PDF format, if you do not have Adobe Reader,
please visit the Adobe web site to download.



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Page updated December 14, 2023

The FAA's airframe and powerplant oral and practical exam.

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