As a pilot, you’ve spent a lot of time, money, and effort preparing for your checkride. The final step in this process is taking a checkride with a Designated Pilot Examiner. The problem is that DPEs can be hard to find and schedule, and frankly, the entire process has limited available information and transparency. Below is some helpful information about where to look when trying to find a DPE for your checkride.
Ask your flight school
Flight schools are typically how student pilots get connected with DPEs. With a steady stream of new pilots it's easier for both the school and the DPE to streamline their process and work with each other on an ongoing basis to build a regular schedule and process.
This is not always the best outcome for student pilots, however. A DPE (or CFI, for that matter) that has a good relationship with a flight school can mean that they make the flight school’s life simpler, not the students. They want good outcomes for their students, but they are a money-making venture and prioritize efficiency and cost. That means you might get a DPE that has more availability but doesn’t have the best reputation or attitude.
Use a pilot finder
Pilot search engines like CheckrideHQ aggregate publicly available information about DPEs and CFI to make it easier for student pilots to book their checkrides and flight instruction. You can put in your location and find DPEs in your area accepting checkride and find their up-to-date contact information.
Another benefit of going this route is that they source additional information like reviews and cost to help pilots find the best DPE for their criteria. This extra layer of transparency makes it easy for pilots to set expectations and know exactly what to expect on their checkrides.
Lastly, you can request checkrides directly on the site. This removes the headache of playing phone tag DPEs and wondering if their contact information is correct.
The FAA also provides their Designee Locator Search. Similarly to CheckrideHQ, you can search for specified criteria (name, location, etc.) and see DPEs that match. They provide contact information that you can use to reach out and schedule your checkride.
While the FAA is the canonical source of information, it lacks additional functionality like reviews, native messaging, and pilot profiles.
There are a few ways to find DPEs for your checkride, and the best option is case-dependent. Regardless of where you find a DPE, when you contact them, it is essential to ask questions about their availability, where the checkride will take place, and the cost of the checkride. That way, there will be no surprises, and you’ll be completely prepared when the day comes.