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The way I heard it. Mike Rowe
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I've been doing a bunch of initial CFI check rides lately. While most are doing well I have had a few problem areas.
1. Area of Operations (AOO) III, Task C: Operation of Systems. The Object is to determine the applicant exhibits instructional knowledge of the elements related to the operation of systems, as applicable to the airplane used for the practical test, by describing the following systems:..... (I won't list them here.) The problem has been describing the systems as it relates to the airplane being used. Some applicants have not been describing the system on their airplane but of another. Other applicants have done a rather poor job of actually describing the system in general. I like to combine this task with AOO XIII, Task Systems and equipment Malfunctions. This is a required Task and the PTS requires the applicant to exhibit instructional knowledge of at least five of the equipment malfunctions appropriate to the airplane used for the test. A typical question to cover both Task might be: "Explain the electrical to a student pilot. Explain the indications of an alternator failure and the procedure to follow."
2. AOO XI, Task G Spins. The FAA allows a DPE to accept a log book endorsement attesting the applicants instructional competency in spin entries, spins, and spin recovery. This doesn't prohibits use from asking a few questions about the subject. I usually ask about a situation that could lead to a spin and then ask about the spin recovery procedure. Most CFI applicants and spit out the PARE procedure but several have difficulty discussing the "why" behind each item. For example. Why do we have to bring the power to idea? Why must the ailerons be neutral? My question is, If we can't explain the reasons why we do these things, are we demonstrating instructional competency?
3. AOO XII Basic Instrument Maneuvers. No big issues here except that this AOO is with the applicant flying under the hood or Foggles. Note item number 3 in each Task requires the applicant to demonstrate and simultaneously explain the maneuver solely by reference to instruments from an instructional standpoint.
Short answer, Yes! I prefer to give you the "Hometown Advantage". The FAA requires us to have a private, comfortable area to do the oral and internet access to connect to IACRA. There may be an additional fee to cover time and travel expenses but we can talk about that before you schedule.
Here it is the end of February 2022! Where did time go, heck, where did I go? Well the answer is two fold. First the spring and summer of 2021 got real busy with work, check rides and teaching. I was booking up almost a month in advance. Looking back, I was too busy. Then in September of 2021, I got hit with a dose of reality, I had a hiccup with my medical. I was temporary grounded for 3 months while I dealt with my health and FAA medical. For a guy that, on average, spends over 700 hours/year in the air, that was hard to be grounded. The good news is I got my medical and am back flying, working and doing check rides!
Private and Commercial
First the good news! Orals have been going pretty well. Where I have been seeing issues is with flight planing and performance. If you are going to use Foreflight or Garmin, you may want to know how things a calculated. I had one applicant show me 3 different flight plans. One from foreflight, one from Fltplan.com and one he did on his own. There was 20 minutes difference in the time enroute and 9 gallons difference in fuel burns. I ask why such a big difference and the applicant had no idea.
Now on to the flying. The number one issue with the private and commercial checkrides has been landings. We've been too high, too low, too fast and too slow. I've been bounced, porpoised and slammed on to the runway. Often times touching down sideways with no crosswind correction. Rather than re-write the Airplane Flying handbook, I'll just refer you to it. Review Chapter 8 and you may want to make note of the "Faulty Approaches and Landings" section.
Having a good year so far. The only hiccup was an applicant that failed to lower the collective at the start of an autorotation. Most helicopter POHs have you enter a practice autorotation by lowering the collective and then closing the throttle. NOT the other way around. When you close the throttle first, rotor RPM drops quickly. (Note, refer to your POH, there are some helicopters and some situations that require the pilot to slightly reduce throttle as you lower the collective.)
Instrument ratings and CFI-Instrument
Biggest problem has been altitude control. I blame most of this on distractions. Keeping a timely scan and not fixating on something too long should fix this. For example, when setting up an instrument approach and programing the GPS, some pilots spend too much time setting up the GPS and not scanning the flight instruments as often as required. This leads to sloppy flying and altitude, heading and/or course excursions.
The applicant is Pilot in Command during a checkride, and the DPE is really acting as a passenger and likewise can only help the applicant with stuff that a non-pilot passenger could do. The DPE "passenger" could look for traffic, hold a chart or iPad or maybe grab something from the backseat. However, the DPE "passenger" can't help with operation of aircraft systems, look up approach plates, teach/coach or help you fly the airplane.
In the eyes of the FAA, DPEs are observers. They are observing your actions and how they comply with the ACS. There are a few checkride exclusions that do happen. For example, the DPE may fly the airplane when the applicant is putting on a view limiting device or maneuver the aircraft around traffic when you are under the hood but that's about it.
Anytime a DPE intervenes for safety of flight issues, the DPE has to issue a Notice of Disapproval. For example, extending the Flaps above Vfe, trying to take-off with full flaps extended or has to recover the aircraft from a messed up maneuver. The DPE also can not allow an applicant to break any regulations. Examples would be, flying into Class B, C, or D without authorization, allow you to bust VFR requirements or land without a clearance.
Yes, It's been awhile since I've posted. I lost the password to this website. Oh well, I'm back.
I know most of you reading this are looking for the checkride gouge or what issues I'm seeing on checkrides. Here it goes.....
Private and Commercial ASEL: Take-offs: Lack of Crosswind control. Landings: crosswind control, unstable approaches (usually to fast), landing on the nose-wheel and failure to land on the desired touchdown point with in ACS requirements.
Instrument: Oral: Lost com procedures, DME arc procedures, and knowledge of your avionics. Flight: Busting DA or MDA have been big issues and failure to maintain course within 3/4 when inside the FAF.
Multi Engine: Failure to maintain aircraft control in either heading, altitude or airspeed. I've posted on this before so I recommend reading those other post. I had 4 commercial applicants violate airspace last year. This can only be attributed to a loss of Situational Awareness, most likely brought on by checkride stress. Relax, Breath and fly the airplane.
Helicopter: These rides have been doing pretty well lately. Some of the weak areas on both the Private and Commercial level have been Airspace, Weather and cross-country planning.
I'll post on the CFI ratings later.
Lately, I have been seeing a number of bad landings. Bouncing, porpoising, wheelbarrowing and hard landings. According to the AOPA Nall Report, landing accidents make up the largest category of pilot-related accidents. Fortunately, they have some of the fewest fatal accidents. Most of the land accidents can be solved by flying a stabilized final approach and then correctly executing the flare.
Most of the problems I'm seeing is the approach being flown to high and to fast. This leads into floating down the runway. Rather than doing a go-around, some people have been forcing the airplane on to the runway. And that's where the excitement begins. Usually it starts with a bounce followed by a push on the yoke witch results with a landing on the nose wheel, followed by some porpoising action.
Another issue is that some instructors have been emphasizing hitting the desired touchdown spot at all cost. So imagine a nice, mostly stabilized, approach but it looks like we will miss the desired touchdown spot by maybe 100 or so feet. So what does the pilot do? He doesn't flare and we hit the ground in a level pitch attitude on all whee wheels, usually pretty hard. Some pilots even shove the nose forward to be sure to hit the spot. Sure we hit the spot but is this an acceptable way to land an airplane?
A number of landing accident have occurred from what I have described above. (just go to YouTube for some wonderful videos) May I offer the following help. Number one, if it doesn't look or feel right, go around. Number two, never force the airplane on to the runway. Number three, if you do bounce or porpoise and can't fix it correctly immediately, go around. Number four, fly a stabilized approach. Number five, flare correctly with the power off and touch down on the main wheels first. Hold the nose up as long as aerodynamically possible.
Flight Instructors. Start with teaching a stabilized approach and correctly exicuting the round out and flare attitude. The nose wheel should should be a good foot or two off the runway when the main wheels touch down. After this has been mastered, then put more emphasis on the touch down point.
Last comment on landings. What is the difference between the short field landing and the soft field landing? Technically, two things. One, on the soft field landing we add power in the flare (provided everything else is correct) to basically transition to slow flight. This will reduce the descent rate and allow us to touch down on the main wheels with the nose high at a minimum airspeed and rate of descent. Two, don't use the brakes. You will note in the ACS, there is no touch down spot or accuracy requirements for the soft field landing. From a realistic standpoint (not an ACS requirement), I teach to touch down within the first third of the runway when doing a soft field landing.
The CFI-Instrument is a pretty straight forward check ride. You don't have to go through all the FOI stuff like you did for the initial and there are only a few required Area of Operations and Task to hit. Take a look at page 20 of the PTS. Yes, we are still using the PTS for CFI check rides.
A short word about the the PTS. I like to call the CFI PTS the teaching document. It tell us that we should be able to show instructional knowledge, demonstrate and simultaneously explain, and analyze and correct common errors. What the PTS does not tell us is to what standards we must perform to while flying. For example: Max 3/4 deflection of the Glidepath or Course guidance or +/- 100 feet of the assigned altitude. For those standards we must look to the Instrument ACS. I call the ACS the performance document for the CFI-I check ride. It tells us to what standards we must adhere to while simultaneously demonstrating and explaining any Tasks.
One of the biggest issues I see during the oral is Area Of Operations III, Task B; Cross-Country Flight Planning. Its a required Task and applicants flounder with it. I don't know why. Here's what I suggest. Take the CFII PTS and the Instrument ACS (Area of Operation I, Task C; Cross-Country Flight Planning) and place them side by side. Now make a lesson plan from the two documents. It doesn't need to be a text book lesson plan but something as simple as a checklist for you to go through that covers all the material in a logical manner.
Another weakness found during the Oral is the lack of knowledge in Alternate Minimums, IAP, DME Arcs and GPS. Since we may not be near a DME arc to shoot one, we have to ask how to you would teach it to a student (Note, the DME Arc is required. Reference CFII PTS page 1-20, see Note). If you have a G1000 equipped aircraft, how would you teach the Arc using that equipment. I can think of 2 legal methods. I'd use the easiest and least confusing.
A little bit about the flight portion. If there is going to be problems, they are usually the same we encounter with regular Instrument check rides, like busting altitudes, pegging the glide path or course needles. Usually these errors can be prevent by flying a few more hours under the hood from the right seat. By the way, did you know that you do not have to fly the entire check ride under the hood? Check out the comments in bold at the top of page 7 of the PTS. Some DPEs may require you to fly the whole thing under the hood but the minimum they are required to see is listed there.
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!