The number of Initial CFI rides has increased lately. Here are some of the common weak areas:
1. AOO I, Task G: Risk Management. A lot of applicants have really struggled with this Task. I find this interesting since the majority of initial CFI applicants have been trained and tested under the ACS. One of the principle features of the ACS is "Risk Management". Why are we having trouble with it on the initial CFI practical test?
2. AOO II, Task B: Runway Incursion Avoidance. This is a required item on the initial CFI checkride so it shouldn't be a surprise when it comes up. I have seen a few awesome presentations and some that definitely fall short of meeting the PTS requirements. Please don't try and make something up on the spot. You should have a lesson plan and maybe even a scenerio already put together, feel free to use them. And PLEASE, don't read me the AC and think that will cover it!
3. AOO II, Task F: Weight and Balance and AOO III, Task D: Performance and Limitations. I'll be blunt here, I've had Sport and Private pilot applicants demonstrate more knowledge than a few initial CFI applicants. I'm guessing that some recommending instructors figure their candidate has been doing Weight and Balance calculations for some time now and thus gloss over the subject.
4. AOO II, Task M: Logbook Entries and Certificate Endorsements and AOO III, Task A: Certificate and Documents. Task M is a required Task and Task A goes hand in hand with it. These two Tasks are also the number one reason pilot applicants get sent home before the check ride has begun.
5. The good news is most applicants do well on the flight portion of the checkride. If there is ever an issue it is usually because the applicant failed to fly a maneuver in accordance with the Airplane Flying Handbook, the ACS and/or the aircraft POH. Another popular area for busting the flight is busting an FAR. For example doing 8s-on-pylons over a congested area or doing Chandelles way to close to those clouds.
I hope this helps. Good luck!
I took about 4 weeks off from doing checkrides during this Covid-19 outbreak but I'm ready to get back at it. In the interest of keeping everyone healthy, I've come up with a few precautions.
1. Please call me the night before for a few health related questions. I'll just be asking if you are feeling healthy, no fever, cough, or headache. Have you been around anyone that is sick? Basically, If you're not 100%, don't show up. I'll do the same for you.
2. Bring a mask for yourself. We will definitely wear them in the aircraft. I haven't had any problems with headsets. Depending on the room we use for the oral, we may wear them in there as well.
3. As part of the preflight, please wipe down the cockpit with a clorox wipe of some sort (don't touch the avionics with the wipes. It may damage them).
4. I've been doing the majority of the check rides in my office. The main reason is I can keep the amount of foot traffic down to a minimum and be able to clean the area pretty well. If we do the ride at your facility, please pick a room that is large enough that we can be at least 6 feet apart.
I don't want either of us to get sick and I'm hoping these are just temporary measures. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to call text or email.
Here's a couple of areas to hit on before your Instrument or CFI-I checkride. I've posted on these in the past but they sure keep cropping up as problem areas:
1. Basic Weather knowledge: The ACS is pretty clear on weather knowledge in Areas of Operations I. Being able to recognize Cold and Warm fronts and what conditions could lead to thunderstorms or icing is pretty much essential.
2. Alternate planing: When is an alternate required? Believe it or not, it's more than just the 1,2,3 and the 600x2 or 800x2 rule. First of all, you destination must have an IAP. If it does then you can apply the 1,2,3 rule. If the weather fails the 1,2,3 rule you must pick an alternate. You may pick an alternate airport that does not have an IAP but the weather must be such that you can descend from the MEA to the surface under Basic VFR requirements. If the weather isn't that good you must pick an alternate airport but first look at each IAP at that airport. If it s got an A in a triangle with an NA next to it, you can not consider that IAP for alternate planning purposes. If the IAP just has an A in a triangle that means non-standard alternate minimums apply. You must look in the Terminal Procedures Supplement to see what the restrictions are. The restrictions could raise the weather requirements or may make the approach not available when the tower is closed. If you look at the IAP does have alternate minimum requirements then you may apply the 600x2 to precision approach or 800x2 to non-precision approaches.
3. A benefit of having WAAS: If you have WAAS installed on your aircraft, you may use a destination and select an alternate of which both just have RNAV approaches. No ground based approaches are required.
4. Are RNAV approaches with LPV minimums a Precision approach?: No. What does that mean for alternate planning? It means that the 800x2 weather requirements apply when using an RNAV approach at your alternate (unless non-standard alternate minimums apply).
5. Identifying the MAP: How do you know you're at the MAP on a VOR, LOC, LOC BC, or RNAV approach? If you have a GPS there are usually 2 or 3 ways to do this. Many applicants struggle with naming one.
6. IAP notes: I call them the notes that can kill. Why? because they can (and do). When you do your approach brief, how will those notes on the IAP effect you? Can you use the altitmeter from that airport 30 miles away? If the approach lights are out how will it effect my ceiling and visibility? Can I use that VDP on the LPV?
7. Flight planning: (big one for CFI-I) What things should you consider when planning a route? Prefered IFR routes, SID, ODP, STARS, Airspace, terrain, Weather. If I back up 4 years ago before Foreflight and Garmin Pilot these where a 5 minute discussion. Now most applicants pick the most common route from thier iPad app and use it. Don't get lazy!
8. Fuel planning: Do you consider the time it take to shoot an IAP at your destination and alternate into your fuel burns? Should you? Are you required to? I'll let you in on this.... You are required to consider those fuel burns in your flight planning by legal interpretation.
9. NOTAMS: Are there any NOTAMS that will effect todays flight? There have been several applicants that have busted MDA or DA and didn't even know it. Some have flown the wrong miss approach procedure because of missing a NOTAM.
10. Lost Com procedure: MEA and AVE-F are often quoted by rarely put to use. There will be a scenario where the rule will be put to use. There have been several people that have told me stuff that directly contradicts the rule. Since this is an emergency, I have the rule on my Lost Com check list.
If you read a bunch of the aviation websites or blogs you're bound to come up on a post bashing DPE's. Its a popular subject especially when a check ride goes south.
Some of the discussions talk about DPEs not following FAA policy or making up wild questions designed to trick the applicant. There are even stories of DPEs yelling, swearing or making inappropriate comments. Heck, I recently heard of a couple of stories where an examiner slept through the flight portion of a ride and another where the examiner got out of the airplane with the engine running and took a pee next to the airplane, in full view of the pilot and others.
Some of the stories about DPE are based on a lack of knowledge of what the really DPE does. According to the FAA, the DPE is is responsible for determining that the applicant meets the established standards of aeronautical knowledge, skills (flight proficiency), and risk management for the Tasks in the appropriate ACS. This responsibility also includes verifying the experience requirements specified for a certificate or rating.
So lets break this down a little.
1. Before a DPE can start the test, he/she must determine the applicant meets the FAA requirements for the specific certificate and/or rating. This is done with a review of the applicant logbook and a deep knowledge and understanding of the FAA regulation and in some cases FAA legal interpretations. The DPE is not allowed to start the test, not even the oral, if the applicant isn't qualified. If an examiner issues a certificate to an applicant who isn't qualified, the repercussions are huge!
2. The examiner must determine the applicant has aeronautical knowledge appropriate to the certificate/rating being issued. They do this by reviewing the knowledge test and through asking questions during the oral portion of the check-ride. The DPE is supposed to test to the correlation level. I find this best done though scenario based questioning. You have noticed that there are several subject in the ACS that are the same for both the private and commercial check rides. It shouldn't come as a surprise that a commercial applicants should demonstrate a higher level of knowledge and understanding than a private applicant. The DPE must also review ALL the knowledge test questions that the applicant got wrong on knowledge test.
3. The DPE must also evaluate the flight skills and risk management skills in accordance with the ACS. The DPE is basically a passenger during this flight. The DPE is not allowed to teach, or assist the applicant in any other way other that what a non-pilot passenger would be capable of. Any intervention from the DPE results in a Notice of Disapproval. If the DPE has to take the controls, call for a go-around from an unsafe approach, stop an applicant from breaking a reg or aircraft limitation are all grounds for the Notice of Disapproval. If an applicant screws up a maneuver, can the applicant request to do it over again? The only time a DPE may allow an applicant to repeat a maneuver is when a Task is incomplete, or the outcome is uncertain.
What is Satisfactory performance?
Satisfactory performance requires that the applicant:
•demonstrate the Tasks specified in the Areas of Operation for the certificate or rating sought within the established standards;
•demonstrate mastery of the aircraft by performing each Task successfully;
•demonstrate proficiency and competency in accordance with the approved standards;
•demonstrate sound judgment and exercise aeronautical decision-making/risk management; and
•demonstrate competence in crew resource management in aircraft certificated for more than one required pilot crewmember, or single-pilot competence in an airplane that is certificated for single-pilot operations.
What is Unsatisfactory performance?
Typical areas of unsatisfactory performance and grounds for disqualification include:
•Any action or lack of action by the applicant that requires corrective intervention by the evaluator to maintain safe flight.
•Failure to use proper and effective visual scanning techniques to clear the area before and while performing maneuvers.
•Consistently exceeding tolerances stated in the skill elements of the Task.
•Failure to take prompt corrective action when tolerances are exceeded.
•Failure to exercise risk management.
So how does this fit together? Lets look at an example or two or three.
So lets say during the flight portion of the test, an applicant comes in for a landing too high and too fast and elects to do a go-around early in the approach. In this example, the task is both incomplete and the outcome uncertain. The applicant showed good judgement and went around early (good risk management). This could be a good example of allowing the applicant to repeat the landing. If the applicant makes the next approach and landing in accordance with the ACS, that task could be considered satisfactory.
How about different pilot applicant conducting a short field approach comes in too high and too fast but continues to land 1/2 down the 3000 foot runway (and 1000 feet deyound the desired touch down point)? In this case the applicant failed to fly in accordance with the ACS standards, failed to take corrective actions and failed to exercise risk management skills. This would be an example of unsatisfactory performance.
Let's take an example during the oral. During the a discussion on stalls and spins the applicants states that adding power is more important during the stall recovery because it gets the air flying over the wing faster. When asked how to recover from a spin the applicant states "I don't need to know that because I have a chute". Would you find these answers acceptable under the ACS?
Pilot Examiners go through extensive training before doing their first flight test. Usually the first several test are under the watchful eye of an FAA inspector. DPE are all current CFIs with extensive backgrounds in aviation. The DPE wants you to pass and will do everything allowable within the ACS and FAA guidance to do so.
There are a few bad apple DPEs out there. If you come across one, document what happen on the check-ride and talk with your local FSDO. The FAA takes the matter of DPE conduct very seriously. Sometimes applicants are just pissed off at the DPE because of a failure. However there may be a serious issue that the FAA must remedy. It may take some time, but the FAA will weed out these bad apples.
According to 14 CFR 61.51(h) Logging training time.....
1. A person may log training time when that person receives training from an authorized instructor in an aircraft , full flight simulator, flight training device, or aviation training device.
2. The training time must be logged in a logbook and must:
(i) Be endorsed in a legible manner by the authorized instructor; and
(ii) Include a description of the training given, the length of the training lesson, and the authorized instructor's signature, certificate number, and certification expiration date.
Oddly enough, I have had several applicants show up for check rides missing the items described in 2 (ii). It is part of the DPEs job to insure the applicant meets the training requirements of Part 61. Without a legible description of the training given along with the CFI signature, cert number and expiration date, they can't verify the training has been done. The DPE can't do the check ride until this is fixed.
I've had several recent applicants show up missing the required endorsements and/or having the correct endorsements. The most common missing endorsement is the one required by 61.39. Its required for every check ride. The second missing/incorrect endorsement is the one required for an additional category and/or class rating. This is referenced in 61.63.
AC 61.65 H includes all the endorsements required in flight training. To make your life and the DPE's job easier, just copy the endorsements right out of the AC. You cant go wrong that way.
There are a variety of electronic log books out there. All of them have different options and pluses and minuses. I don't have a preference on any of them.
From a check ride prospective, a pilot examiner must determine the applicant meets the requirements for the certificate and/or rating applying for. Flight and ground training must be logged in a log book (or training record) with a description of the training and the signature and certificate number of the CFI.
I've had a couple of applicants show up with an electronic log book. Nothing wrong with that. However, the entries for the training flights did not include a description of the training and, in one case, missing the signature and certificate number of the instructor.
Also, ground instruction is required to be logged as well. I'm not sure how this can be logged in a electroic log but an examiner will be looking for that too.
Please clean the windshield. Its really hard to see traffic through bug guts and the glare of the sun.
Get a few DPEs together and we start telling war stories of past check rides and near death experiences. We are old and feeble and barely remember what we had for breakfast let alone what really happen three weeks ago but some elements of truth and commonality pop out in these stories.
Recent stories about entering and leaving towered and non tower traffic patterns have been making there rounds. Stuff like making right traffic at left traffic airports. calling in the wrong position in the pattern (or making the all to common call "turning left final runway XX), not following ATC instructions or telling ATC your east of the field when you are west, cutting off other aircraft in the pattern, landing downwind. The list goes on...
I can tell you to read and follow the regs and the advice in the AIM but I'll add a couple other thoughts.
1. Don't go near the airport until you are ready. Find the airport, get the ATIS or AWOS, figure out the active runway and the easiest way to enter the pattern. Take the time and THINK.
2. Double check your position from the airport before calling in. This is important! ATC needs to know your location to figure out how to sequence you into the pattern and keep you separated from others. At non towered airports, other aircraft need to develop the big picture too. Incorrectly announcing your position in relation to airport, runway or traffic pattern is a set up for a midair collision.
3. Keep your head on a swivel. You may be doing everything right but the other guy may not. If there is conflict in the air, its best to stay out of it.
A few years ago, an airliner got lost on an airport on a low IFR day. There was confusion on the frequency between the airliner and ATC. Thinking the Airliner was clear of the runway, ATC cleared another airplane for take-off. That pilot (hearing the confusion on the freq) declined the take-off clearance until ATC and the airliner knew where each other was at. Good thing this pilot declined the clearance. The airliner had made a wrong turn and was actually on the departure runway of the other aircraft. It would have been a disaster.
Most check rides start with a cross country. Why is it that the majority of applicants fail to set up and use their GPS (or other Navigation equipment) for that cross country?
My advice, do what you would do in real life. If you normally fly using that GPS, then use it for the check ride. Don't start yourself off with a disadvantage! If the examiner needs to see you navigate without it, he/she will fail it at some point.