Monday, February 23, 2009

Efficiency at Work

Un-freaking-believable. That's the phrase rolling through my mind right now!

A few weeks ago, I got a call from the DPE that did my instrument checkride. I'd been wondering why I had not ever received my new certificate in the mail. I thought maybe things were just backed up. Well, it turns out that the FAA had sent him a letter saying that my application was being rejected? 


He explained that apparently, I had entered all four of my names (I couldn't decide whether to drop my middle name or maiden name when I got married, so I kept both as middle names and just added on a new last name) into IACRA when I submitted the application for my instrument rating. I later learned that this interfered with the system in two ways:
1)It didn't match the three name version that I used when I got my original  private certificate. 
2) The system won't allow someone to have two middle names (but apparently is not designed to give you an error if you don't know this)! 

I later found the tiny print that states this fact if you print out the instructions sheet that go with the old form you could use to fill out by hand. The only way to know this in the new online system is if you click the help file next to the name blank. And honestly... how many people *think* they need help to fill in their name! I guess my original instructor knew this fact-- I got my original certificate when they were transitioning in the new system-- so we filled out both the manual form and the online form, and he had read that little instruction sheet for the manual form. Given how few women get their pilots license (only 6% of pilots are women), it probably doesn't come up that often.

So after some discussion-- he had no idea how to fix this particular problem, he decided he'd get copies of my passport, drivers license, and pilot certificate and see what he could do. I was already meeting him for my commercial checkride, so I just brought everything then. 

No dice. So then we decided that we should try just submitting a new application all together-- which required meeting again, this time with my instrument instructor. We met yesterday and went through the tedious process of entering my information (carefully using only three of my names), and all of my flight time, etc. It's not an intuitive system and there are several awkward handoffs you have to make in creating an application (apologies to anyone out there who designed it... but then, I imagine you KNOW that it's not an intuitive system). We get to the very last step-- where the DPE has to sign the form... and ERROR. The system tells us that the practical (i.e. the checkride) is out of date. Yikes! Now what?! We tried calling the help desk, but it's Sunday afternoon and we don't get anyone. So we gave up and went home. 

Today I get a call from the DPE who has spent much of the morning trying to unravel this mystery. He has an answer. I must now go to the local FSDO (locally it's close by-- at Dulles) and have an appointment with a FAA inspector. If the inspector agrees that I am who I say I am, and understands what has transpired, then hopefully he/she will sign off on the paperwork and send a letter to Oklahoma City to explain to the FAA HQ what has happened.

Oh- and it gets more fun. I DID pass the commercial checkride (yay-more on that to come!)-- which we submitted as an "unrestricted commercial rating". However, to qualify for an unrestricted commercial rating, I must have an instrument rating. And while I am valid to fly with my temporary instrument rating for another two months, I don't know what the system will do if my correct commercial paperwork makes it through prior to my revised instrument paperwork. We may have to go through all of this again! Argh! Maybe I should have listened when my husband said that having four names would make life confusing!


Matt said...

Ohhh man! Gotta <3 the FAA! Congrats on passing your check ride. You beat me! lol

Here's another story - some one during the application process to ATC put their first and last names one time, then their first middle and last on another paper, and the FAA wouldn't recognize it... It delayed their hiring three months until the found the right paperwork!

I promise to be more efficient if you fly through ZNY's airspace...

Head in the Clouds said...

Mostly I've just been thinking this whole thing is funny. But now it's starting to be a huge pain in the butt! I feel bad that the DPE has had to spend so much time straightening this all out. He's been very sweet about it, though.

How long will it take you to finish training before you up at ZNY?

Deep said...

efficiency in work is already needed