As an examiner I get asked lots of questions. Here are some of the most frequent ones in no particular order.
1. What additional documentation is required for a foreign student?
An applicant applying for a certificate or rating based on a foreign pilot certificate must have the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) that issued those certificates verify the validity and currency of the foreign license and medical certificate or endorsement before you apply for an FAA certificate or authorization from the aviation authority of the country issuing the foreign certificate. The verification is valid for 6 calendar months. See http://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/airmen_certification/foreign_license_verification/ for more info.
2. What about the TSA requirements?
See http://www.aopa.org/tsa_rule/#citizens for specific requirements for resident and alien students.
3. Does foreign flight time count towards an FAA certificate?
Yes. If the time was obtained in an ICAO country and properly logged and endorsed.
4. What is the most frequent endorsement error that you encounter on flight tests?
Probably the most frequently missed endorsement is the 61.39 endorsement.
5. Do I have to bring the aircraft maintenance records?
Yes. The examiner must be able to determine airworthiness prior to flight. Also, the PTS for most tests require that the applicant be tested on their knowledge of the records.
6. Can we do the flight portion first?
No. The regulations require successful completion of the oral before the flight portion can commence.
7. Are we allowed to do the instrument flight test in IMC?
I require VFR conditions for all flight tests. IMC during the instrument test would require the examiner to act as PIC. The FAA discourages examiners from acting as PIC during a flight test. Also, it would probably not be a good idea to do partial panel and unusual attitudes in actual (makes ATC nervious).
8. I took my written test today and it does not show up in IACRA. What’s wrong?
It can take several days for FAA to upload the test results. In such a case, you will have to bring a paper 8710-1 to take the flight test.
9. I made a mistake on my IACRA application. Can I fix it?
If the recommending instructor has signed the record it can no longer be edited. You have to start over with a new application.
10. How long do I have to wait to retest after a failure?
No specific waiting period is specified in the regs. The retest can take place whenever the applicant and instructor feel it is appropriate. If the time allows, I've done a retest on the same day.
11. Does the entire Commercial flight test have to be done in a complex aircraft?
No. You must show proficiency in a complex. You may opt to do a portion in a complex and the rest in another aircraft.
12. On my last annual my mechanic wrote “All AD’s complied with” in the aircraft log. Is that enough to prove ad compliance?
No. FAR 91.417 (a)(2)(v) says that the aircraft records must contain “The current status of applicable airworthiness directives (AD) including, for each, the method of compliance, the AD number, and revision date. If the AD involves recurring action, the time and date when the next action is required.”
13. How long does the flight test last?
It depends on which test you are taking. Usually the oral takes between 1.3 and 2 hours and the flight 1 to 1.5 hours. Some add-on tests are considerably shorter. It just depends on the PTS requirements.
14. Do you accept credit cards?
I now accept credit cards through PayPal. You do not need a Paypal account to use this payment method. however, due to PayPal fees a $15 fee applies.
15. Is the instructor required to accompany me to the test?
Although I highly recommend it, it is not necessary and is totally up to you and your instructor.
16. If I fail, do I have to retake the entire test?
You are required to repeat only unsuccessful areas of operation and those not tested. You get credit for all successfully completed areas. Note: You only get 2 canedar months to complete the entire test. After that you have to start all over.
17. If I exceed my altitude by 101 feet, does that mean I fail?
Absolutely not. The PTS says consistently exceeding standards is grounds for failure. If you deviate from the standards, but apply prompt corrective action, you will be ok in most situations.
18. Can I use my books to look things up during the oral.
Yes, within reason. No one, especially not me, can remember everything. I believe that being able to utilize all available resources is an important skill for a pilot. However, there are things that you need to know. You won’t have time to look up spin recovery techniques while you are spinning!
19. What is your advice on preparing for a checkride?
Several things come to mind. First, be familiar with the applicable PTS. Everything on your test comes straight from there. It always amazes me when someone tells me they have never seen the PTS. It may be one of the most valuable resources for preparing for the test. Talk to others who have taken the test. Ask them about their experience. Insist on seeing the maintenance records for the plane prior to test day. You need to be familiar with them. Same goes for the POH. The POH contains necessary information about the plane. Also, get everything organized the day before the test. You will be stressed enough without having to run around getting it all together on test day. Get plenty of rest the night before, and last but not least, relax!