Sporty’s flight training apps updated to support new ACS

3 min read
ACS book

The new standard – the ACS.

For the past five years, the FAA has been working with the flight training industry to update the familiar Practical Test Standards (PTS), the documents that spell out exactly what pilot candidates will be tested on during the checkride. The result of this effort is the new Airman Certification Standards (ACS), which go into effect today for Private Pilot Airplane and Instrument Rating Airplane knowledge and practical tests.

In the end, the ACS is a good change that is essentially an evolution of the PTS, integrating the special emphasis areas, risk management, knowledge test components and the traditional flight maneuvers standards into one cohesive document. It’s a more realistic approach to the way pilots train.

To stay in step with this change, Sporty’s released an update this week to their popular Learn to Fly and Instrument Rating apps for iPad and iPhone. These apps have always taken a unique approach: they make the PTS an integral part of the training curriculum from day 1, emphasizing in-flight lessons in addition to the typical test prep features. This approach is particularly relevant now, since the new ACS guides are designed to help students, instructors and examiners better understand how knowledge areas, skills, risk management elements and performance metrics are connected and apply to each task.

Both the Private Pilot Learn to Fly Course and the Instrument Rating Course apps have been updated to include new interactive versions of the Airman Certification Standards. After logging into either course, you’ll find this Interactive ACS component in the main menu.


There you’ll find options on the left side of the screen displaying each Area of Operation, with a listing of each ACS Task directly below, making it easy to jump to the maneuver or knowledge area you’re looking for. The details for each task are then displayed on the right side of the screen, broken down by Objective, References, Knowledge, Risk Management and Skills.

Sporty’s courses take the ACS a step further, by including a custom video review section at the end of each Task. Here you’ll find buttons that allow you to watch the corresponding video training segments that apply to that task.

For example, if you’re reviewing the Preflight task, you’ll find videos on how to conduct a thorough preflight on a Cessna 172, along with an Air Facts video segment containing real-world preflight tips. Getting ready to practice the Slow Flight maneuver? The video review segments there include 10 minutes of in-flight video showing how to perform the maneuver, along with another segment containing a review of aerodynamics.

By featuring the Airman Certification Standards (ACS) front and center in the courses, and integrating HD video training right into each task, pilots should quickly feel comfortable with the ACS and better understand the importance of this guide during their flight training and written test preparation. The new app features also help pilots feel more prepared for the practical test by continuously training to the standards listed in the ACS, instead of using it for a last-minute review while prepping for the checkride (the way many of us did in the bad old days).

Sporty’s course apps are free to download in the iTunes App Store, and include trial content to allow pilots to test out the courses. A full app subscription, which unlocks all video and test prep features (and includes free updates), is $199.99. You can learn more about the Learn to Fly Course and the Instrument Rating Course at Sporty’s website.