Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Check Pilotage

Ensuring competence

AMSA engages experienced coastal pilots as ‘Check pilots’ to independently assess the competence of other coastal pilots.


Check pilots are ‘nominated by AMSA’, and conduct performance assessments on peer coastal pilots on behalf of AMSA, not on behalf of pilotage providers.

Completed assessments are retained in AMSA’s 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 (MO54). This ensurs very experienced coastal pilots with extensive operational experience are engaged to assess coastal pilot performance on behalf of AMSA.    

The Check pilot:

  1. undertakes check voyages with holders of unrestricted pilot or restricted pilot licences
  2. assesses trainee pilots.

Who can be a check pilot?

A person is eligible to apply for a check pilot licence for a stated pilotage area if they:

  1. hold an unrestricted pilot licence for the pilotage area
  2. not been the subject of a suspension of more than 7 days in the 5 years before eligibility is being determined
  3. hold a Certificate of Medical Fitness
  4. have satisfactorily:
    1. completed an approved workplace assessment training course conducted by an approved training provider
    2. undertaken a psychometric assessment approved by AMSA
    3. completed an oral examination approved by AMSA
  5. have, while performing the duties of a licensed pilot, completed the required number of transits.

What is the application process?

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

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

The Check pilots’ selection process includes a psychometric assessment (conducted online) and an oral examination (conducted by panel interview).

If successful, the candidate is then required to complete relevant modules of an accredited assessment training program (i.e. specific modules within a Certificate IV in Workplace Training & Assessment).

AMSA does not arrange or provide for this training, but will accept completion certificates issued by a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) under the Australian Qualifications Framework.

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 via telephone depending on the applicant’s preference and availability.

The panel is comprised of at least one representative from AMSA and the respective pilotage provider (including at least a licensed Check pilot from the pilotage provider).

A summarised assessment report will be provided to both the pilot and the sponsoring pilotage provider.

Pilots can request the detailed results of the assessment to prepare for any later re-assessment (if found unsuitable).

How do I prepare?

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 MO54
  • thinking back on your own check runs (i.e. 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 (as posed to the applicant as part of each question).

For example, the panel may ask the applicant about a time when you had to keep your emotions under control during a difficult situation. Applicants who are unable to provide specific real-life examples in relation to the key capabilities will be disadvantaged.

The real-life examples do not need to be pilotage or maritime-related in any way. They can describe any situation from the applicant’s background to address the specific 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
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