Check pilots

We engage experienced coastal pilots to assess the competence of other coastal pilots.

It is important to ensure the competence of coastal pilots before we put them to work guiding vessels through particularly sensitive sea areas. We engage experienced coastal pilots as check pilots to independently assess the competence of other coastal pilots.

We nominate check pilots to conduct performance assessments on peer coastal pilots on our behalf, not on behalf of pilotage providers.

Completed performance assessments are retained in our Certification and pilotage system (CPS).

Check pilots work within a structured regulatory environment which forms part of the legal regime for coastal pilot licensing.

To obtain a check pilot licence, a number of eligibility requirements must be met as detailed in Marine Order 54 (Coastal pilotage). This ensures very experienced coastal pilots with extensive operational experience are engaged to assess coastal pilot performance on our behalf.    

The check pilot:

  1. Undertakes check voyages with holders of unrestricted pilot or restricted pilot licences.
  2. Assesses trainee pilots.

Check voyage assessments are conducted in accordance with Guidance notes for check pilots and the check pilot checklist form 15

Check pilot eligibility

You are eligible to apply for a check pilot licence for a stated pilotage area if you:

  1. hold an unrestricted pilot licence for the pilotage area
  2. have not been the subject of a suspension of more than seven days in the five years before eligibility is being determined
  3. hold a certificate of medical fitness
  4. have satisfactorily:
    • completed an approved workplace assessment training course conducted by an approved training provider
    • undertaken a psychometric assessment approved by us
    • completed an oral examination approved by us
  5. have, while performing the duties of a licensed pilot, completed the required number of transits.

Application process

Applications need to be endorsed and submitted to us by the respective pilotage provider on behalf of the coastal pilot.

You must meet the relevant eligibility requirements for the intended coastal pilotage licence area(s) prior to submitting an application to us.

The check pilot selection process includes an online psychometric assessment and an oral examination conducted by panel interview.

The psychometric assessment has no right or wrong response – this is a process which has been developed to identify preferences (or disinclinations) for particular capabilities in key performance areas that have been identified as relevant for check pilots.

The oral examination is a structured panel interview process and is conducted either in person, or over the telephone depending on your preference and availability.

The panel is comprised of at least one of our representatives and the respective pilotage provider (including at least a licensed check pilot from the pilotage provider).

A summarised assessment report will be provided to you and your sponsoring pilotage provider.

You can request the detailed results of the assessment to prepare for any later reassessment if you are marked as unsuitable.

If found suitable for the role of an AMSA-nominated Check Pilot, you are then required to complete either the Assess Competency as Marine Check Pilot course at an AMSA approved registered training organisation or the following relevant modules of a vocational training (currently being the TAESS00011 - ‘Assessor Skill Set’ Training and Education Training Package):

  • Plan assessment activities and processes
  • Assess competence
  • Participate in assessment validation
  • Design and develop assessment tools.

We do not arrange or provide the required vocational training, but will accept completion certificates issued by a registered training organisation (RTO) under the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Prepare for assessment

There is no real way to prepare for the psychometric assessment. It is not a pass or fail assessment. Rather, it identifies preferences (or disinclinations) when faced with different situations.

The assessment is done online, and you should ensure you have a suitably quiet and distraction-free location. It is normally easier to complete the assessment in a single session, rather than attempting to complete it in parts.

You can prepare for the oral examination by:

  • reviewing the check pilot licence conditions detailed in Marine Order 54 (Coastal pilotage)
  • thinking back on your own check runs (ie what went well, what didn’t go quite so well?)
  • taking some time to think about what it means to be a check pilot
  • appreciating that the role of a check pilot is not to train pilots, but to independently assess performance standards on behalf of the regulator
  • acknowledging that there is a significant difference between being a good trainer and being a good assessor.

The interview questions are strictly competency based, meaning the panel will be looking for specific examples of how you addressed a specific situation, or demonstrated a key capability in relation to a specific situation that was posed to you as part of each question.

For example, the panel may ask you about a time when you had to control your emotions during a difficult situation. A low score will be appointed if you are unable to provide specific real life examples in relation to the key capabilities asked of you during questioning.

The real life examples do not have to be specifically pilotage or maritime-related in any way. They can describe any situation from your background to address the key capability.

The key capabilities identified for a check pilot include:

  • working with people
  • adhering to principles and values
  • persuading and influencing
  • presenting and communicating information
  • applying expertise and technology
  • analysing
  • following instructions and procedures
  • adapting and responding to change
  • coping with pressures and setbacks.
Last updated: 4 February 2020