Just back from the DPE 24 month training. 4 of the areas best helicopter DPE had a chance to talk and we have discovered that we are seeing the same problems among helicopter applicants. Here's the short list.
1. Performance planning. HOGE, HIGE, Cross country planning with power settings, airspeed and fuel burn.
2. Emergency procedures. Retreating Blade Stall, Low G, LTE and Low rotor and Rotor Stall & Settling with power.
3. Privileges and limitations of respective pilot certificate
4. Exceeding limitations. TO MAP, Rotor and Engine RPM,
5. Autorotations (see #4) (see PTS)
6. Power Failure at Altitude (failure to establish safe autoratation in accordance with PTS)
7 Slope. Skill and knowledge. For example, How do you know the slope is too steep for the helicopter
I'm sure there are others but those are the items that where discussed the most.
June 15, 2015 the FAA released the update Order 8900.2A which covers Designee policy, procedures and other requirements. There are some changes in there that will have some effect on what I can do or allow on a check ride. None of the new policies affect the actual check ride (for example questions and scenarios) but rather they tighten up some of the things an examiner is allowed to do. Here's a rundown:
1. The Examiner must notify the FSDO of all check rides.
2. Only 1 Initial CFI test per day
3. Max 2 check rides per day (a full test, retest and restart from a discontinuance each count as 1 full check ride) (not new but a frequent request by schools to do more than 2 rides/day)
4. If you start the application process with IACRA you must end with IACRA. If you used a paper 8710, you must notify the FSDO why you used a paper 8710.
5. Check rides must plan to start and end on the same day. In other words, segmented tests arent allowed.
6. Only FAA ASI are allowed to observe a check ride. It use to be acceptable to allow an applicants CFI to observe a check ride, a practice I fully encouraged. Unfortunately, the FAA won't let me do it anymore.
7. AMEs will no longer be able to issue student pilot certificates. New students will have to go to a DPE or the FSDO to get one.
8. If an applicant wants to use an EFB (ie iPad) on a check ride, the examiner must allow it. The Examiner must test the applicant on its use as it relates to the type of check ride. No change for me. I've been using and allowing EFBs for years. Just make sure you know how to use it and that its data is accurate.
There are other currency, administrative and training requirement changes for DPEs but those things wont really effect the actual check ride. It's just more stuff the DPE has to be ahead of.
Any questions, please call or email
1. Making 2 calls out of 1. For example: N9107U: "Janesville Tower Cessna 9107U" JVL Tower: "07U go ahead" Janesville Tower Cessna 9107U 10 west inbound landing with xray" The first call is unnecessary and clogs up the frequency.
2. Reading back everything the controller says. I have had several students read back the winds. You don't need to do that.
3. Not reading back hold short clearances. They are required and please use your N number in the read back.
I'll add more as they come in......
I get that question every once and a while... "What are you looking for Chris?"
As a Pilot Examiner the answer is simple, "that the applicant safely meets the standards as outline in the applicable PTS". That's a typical Pilot Examiner cop out but applicants and flight instructors really want more info. They're really asking "how do you want them to do the maneuver or task?" As a flight instructor I have my own tips and suggestions but as a Pilot Examiner I have to put those aside and make sure the applicant's flying matches or doesn't seriously disagree with the FAA technical material. So Airplane applicants should be flying according to the FAA Airplane Flying Handbook, Helicopter applicants should be flying in accordance to the FAA Helicopter Flying Handbook and Instrument applicant according to the Instrument Flying Handbook. You get the idea.
Other FAA sources will provide other information and should be referenced as well, for example the AIM, Advisory Circulars and the FAA Regulations. All of the sources are listed in the PTS. Can other sources be used? Yes, as long as they don't disagree with FAA sources. For example Rod Machado's books are excellent reference material.
Make sure you are using the latest editions! For example, I have a collection of training material going back to World War II. Would the techniques described in those books be acceptable on a flight test today? Some of it maybe, some of it definitely not. So if your teaching make sure you are using the latest FAA methods.
I've been seeing a few weaknesses show up on several check rides. Interestingly enough, it doesn't matter if is a private, commercial or CFI ride these are common problems among all.
1. Knowing how to properly lean an engine. Refer to the POH or the Engine manufactures manual. If the airplane has an EGT, know how to use that
2. Figuring pressure and density altitude. Performance charts use either pressure and/or density altitude to come up with correct performance numbers.
3. Cross wind landings
4. Short field landings. Several applicants have forced the airplane to the ground by pushing the yoke forward during the flare. At best the airplane landings on all 3 wheels. At worst the airplane porpoises and the nose wheel collapses. If it looks like you will over fly your spot, go-around!
5. Clearing turns. This is a special emphasis area in the PTS. One Initial CFI applicant didn't preform any clearing turns. That right, NONE! A Commercial applicant only did one clearing turn during the entire ride. We did 1 clearing turn for 7 or 8 maneuvers.
6. Not using Carb heat correctly. Refer to the aircraft POH. If you're flying on auto fuel be advised that auto fuel increases the chance of carb ice. To properly use carb heat a pilot must apply it BEFORE reducing the power out of the normal operating range. Note to Robinson Helicopter pilots, the POH now wants you to use FULL carb heat during engine warm up.
So there's the latest problem areas. Please take some time and make sure these areas are ironed out before taking the check ride.