The Commercial ACS was updated last year with a couple of new items and clarifications. I'll cover a couple of those items here.
You'll note that the ACS describes the tolerances for each maneuver and not how to do a maneuver. In the ACS at the top of each Task the FAA list the References. In these references the FAA describes how to do each maneuver. During a check ride the FAA and the Examiner expect the applicant to perform each maneuver as described in the appropriate FAA reference material and to the standards listed in the ACS.
Several maneuvers that are frequently not performed in accordance with FAA reference material are the Power off 180 degree accuracy landing, 8s on pylons and the power off stall. I erge everyone to review the FAA's Airplane Flying Handbook for correct description of these maneuvers.
I'd also like to point out a new requirement in the ACS (it appears in both the private and commercial). If you look in the Area of Operation labeled "Takeoffs, Landings and Go-Arounds" under "Skills" you will see the phrase "Touch down at the proper pitch attitude...". This is important. In the past we would see applicants try to force the airplane on the runway to make the desired spot. In attempting to do that the airplane would hit the ground flat on all 3 wheels (not talking tailwheel airplanes here). Landing flat is not good techniques and could easily damage the airplane.
I'd like to emphasis some of the wording on landings from the ACS. " Touch down at a proper pitch attitude with in XXX feet beyond or on the specified point, ....... with NO side drift, minimum float and with the airplane's longitudinal axis aligned with and over the runway centerline. In reality, this is the description of a good landing. Notice the don't say anything about how smooth it must be. Don't worry about trying to role it on.
Some basic questions are being missed. Can you answer them?
You are going to Madison (MSN) for lunch. You are at 3000 feet and 20 nm to the southwest. Explain how you will go about entering their airspace?
You are departing the Monroe airport (EFT). At what Indicated Altitude will you enter Class E airspace? (Indicated Altitude is the altitude read off your altimeter).
There is a diamond symbol just to the southwest of the MSN airport. What is its significance? Will FSS know about this?
A few new issues have been creeping up on some helicopter check rides. I thought I'd bring them to everyones attention.
1. Figuring limitations out (like Vne, Mcp and take off power) and other performance numbers requiring us to determine Pressure Altitude. I've seen quite a few applicants lately unable to correctly calculate pressure altitude. What that may mean is we maybe exceeding a limitation of the helicopter ,or incorrectly determine HIGE or HOGE
2. Low rotor RPM and blade stall. Most of my check rides are done in Robinson products and SFAR 73 specifically address' these two subjects. Unfortunately, from my observations, it looks like instructors are not teaching the subject or not evaluating it enough to insure each pilot understands the material. While SFAR 73 is aimed at Robinson helicopters, the knowledge and skills apply to all helicopter pilots.
3. Autorotations. Lots of problems coming up but mainly its been poor Rotor RPM control. RPM is life folks! I've seen low RPM from not fully lowering the collective, to exceedingly high RPM. Other issues have been poor peddle control and being out of trim, turning the helicopter downwind, poor timing on the flare (to high, to low), and not being remotely close to the intended touchdown point.
Flight Instructor Endorsements
Notice Number: NOTC8054
The FAA recently received the following email message from a stakeholder external to the FAA. The email read -
“I was contacted by an applicant for an Initial CFI in the XXX FSDO with an issue regarding the newly released Touchdown Autorotation Proficiency Endorsement. Per the applicant, he had never received any training in the performance of a touchdown autorotation. When the DPE arrived to administer the practical test, the DPE questioned the CFI applicant about the training he had received to obtain this endorsement. The applicant advised he had never received this training, so the DPE would not accept the endorsement.
Once the DPE advised the training school that he would be doing a touchdown autorotation during the practical test, the DPE was advised that the school did not have insurance to conduct this maneuver, so the practical test was cancelled.
It was at this time the DPE began investigating why a school would provide this endorsement without actually conducting flight training for the touchdown autorotation. He was advised that the XXX FSDO told their DPEs that this training could be conducted either by ground or flight.
We believe this was not the intent of the endorsement process.”
The FAA would like to reiterate to flight instructors, training schools, and designees, that this training is not intended to be conducted by ground training only. There is a proficiency component to this training in which the flight instructor attests to the applicant’s competence in these tasks. In order to accomplish this, the flight instructor issuing this endorsement must have flown with the applicant in order to make that determination.
For more information related to flight instructor practical tests in helicopters, refer to FAA-S-8081-7B (with Changes 1, 2, & 3). You can find the most recent copy of this document at https://www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/test_standards/media/FAA-S-8081-7B.pdf.
As a reminder, this is no different from the requirements outlined in 14 CFR § 61.183(i) for airplanes and the stall/spin endorsement. Flight instructors, training schools, and designees preparing someone for the airplane flight instructor practical test, or conducting the practical test, should refresh themselves on this requirement.
Thanks for the help with this and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact the Airman Training and Certification Branch at (202) 267-1100.
Private Checkrides: Not to much progress made in correcting the issues described earlier this year. Oral wise, Weather still seems to be the biggest issue and a number of applicant don't know how to recover from a spin. Flying issues: Several recent applicants have had problems demonstrating slips. Continuing problem areas are crosswind take off/landings, as well as, correctly doing a soft field landing.
Commercial Checkrides: Orals. Weather issues as stated earlier this year continues to be a weak spot and new to the list is Aircraft System knowledge. Since we don't have to test in complex airplanes any more, most applicants are showing up in fixed gear Cessna and Piper products. All that is great and all but I have discovered that we may have forgotten to review the systems of the airplane we've been flying in a lot. I've been told a lot of goofy stuff. Did you know the turn coordinator is powered by the static system in a new 172 or that carburetor heat on a Warrior is electric? All new to me.
Flying: Over all I have had several great applicants! The flight portion is pretty easy if an applicant has had good training. Of the checkrides that have not ended successfully, the common factor was they where not prepared in accordance with the FAA's Airplane Flying Handbook and the ACS. For example, one applicant did the Lazy 8s with adding and reducing power as the airplane climbed and descended.
Multi Engine Checkrides: We've had pretty good progress on previous errors (like feathering the wrong prop). One trend that has reared its ugly head, is not following (or even using checklist). One applicant failed to insure the gear was down before landing. It could have been caught if he used his checklist.
Instrument check rides: Oral: Weather knowledge, RNAV Chart procedures and missed approach procedures. Flying: Holding, Circling and missed approach procedures.
Initial CFI check rides: Just call me. There's not enough space on the internet for me to cover that.
Helicopter Checkrides: Overall, not much to complain about. See my past posts for a good review. Instrument helicopter rides. I have the same issue on instrument airplane as I do instrument helicopter (except for the circling procedures).
Call if you want to discuss in more detail.
We've been hearing about it for months and it is finally out! N8900.485 - Removal of Designated Pilot Examiner Geographic Limitations and Other Restrictions
Per the Notice, Geographical Limitations and other Restrictions removed becomes effective Oct 2, 2018.
Here are a few Specific point that will affect all DPEs.
a. No Geopgrapic Limitaions: With a few restrictions, a DPE may test anywhere in the US or its territories.
b. Initial Flight Instructor Tests: Initial CFI applicants may contact the DPE directly to schedule an initial CFI check ride. Note: The DPE must have the authority to conduct initial CFI rides.
c. Number of Tests Allowed Daily. DPEs are allowed to conduct up to three tests per day without additional approval and that there will be no limit on the number of retests that can be conducted per day. Initial tests, discontinuances, and continuations are all considered practical tests. There is no limit to the number of administrative applications a DPE may process in a calendar-day (e.g., foreign pilot applications, second-in-command (SIC) type rating applications, student pilot application reviews, etc.).
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to give me a call
Well, I haven't posted in awhile. I'll spare you the details but lets just say its been a crazy spring and summer. Let me get down to what you want to know.
Check rides stuff.
A few changes have been made to the private, instrument and commercial ACS. Rather than spend a bunch of time typing, I recommend getting a current copy from FAA.gov and review it for yourself. There is a page that summarizes the changes in each ACS.
Ground: Basic weather knowledge. For example, cold vs warm front. Required equipment. Stall and spin knoweldge (big hint, know how to recover from a stall & spin). Airspace; Class C, B and TFRs. Effects of being outside the Weight and Balance envelope.
Flight: Stall recovery. Unusual attitude recovery. Engine failure and best glide. Crosswind Takeoff and landing and Soft Field landings. Airport operations at towered and non towered airports.
Ground: Basic weather knowledge, Alternate airport requirements. RNAV approach procedures. GPS and WAAS procedures.
Flight: Holding. RNAV approach procedures. Circling approach procedures (when can you descend below MDA?). Non precision approach procedures (Where is the MAP?).
Ground: Commercial Privileges and limitations. Basic weather knowledge.
Flight: Lazy 8s. 180 Power off accuracy landings. Stall recovery.
Ground: Safety Management. Private/Commercial pilot certificate required training. Required endorsements. Cross country planning. Airworthiness requirements.
Flight: Not teaching and/or flying in accordance with the ACS and the appropriate FAA Flying Handbook.
Automatic failures: (These are situations where the Examiner has no option and most likely will intervene before a bad situation occurs.) Busting airspace or cloud clearances. Busting a Regulation or an ATC clearance. Exceeding a limitation. Any action or lack of Action where the Examiner must intervene.
1. Your habits will present themselves on the check ride. Yep, That's true! Many times I will hear from the applicant and the recommending instructor "We where just working on that" or " I thought we had fixed that problem". One of the laws of learning is "First learned, Best remembered" This is why it is important to teach correctly the first time. It is very hard to correct undesirable behavior once it is learned. The added stress and fixation experienced during a check ride causes the applicant to revert to old habits.
2. Fly like you train and train like you fly. An old military quote. Basically I'll sum it up this way. Fly the way you where taught by you flight instructor. If you are tempted to try something you read on the internet or follow advice from a friend on your check ride, DON'T! The results rarely come out in your favor.
3. Know and follow the emergency procedures for your aircraft. This has been an issue lately on Multi engine check rides. One Multi applicant failed to retract the landing gear during take off which wouldn't have been a big deal if an engine hadn't failed. Unfortunately, the applicant didn't follow the emergency procedure (which called for retracting the gear). Not only did the added drag from the gear help to rapidly slow the airplane, the nose gear steering linkages make the rudder harder to push. The applicant quickly lost directional control of the airplane. The examiner had to recover the airplane.
4. Relax, breath and slow down. This is especially true during emergency situations and during check rides. If you rush, mistakes will be made. Start some self-talk....Ok, fly the airplane, What is happening here?....What do I need to do?....Fly the airplane.....
5. What is the ACS? Airmen Certification Standards. The ACS is the replacement for the PTS. The Private, Instrument and Commercial Airplane check rides are conducted in accordance with the ACS at present time. The rest of the PTS's will be phased out in short order. Keep and eye on the FAA website for updates.
Unfortunately, some instructors are not using the ACS as a training/testing guide and are surprised when their student is sent home with a Notice of Disapproval. The ACS is different than the PTS and there are significant changes. You can grab the latest copy of the ACS more details on the transition at www.faa.gov.
Another Aviation News Talk podcast on check rides.
With the advent of Garmin Pilot, Foreflight and other flight planning sofeware, it seems that basic flight planning skills have been set aside. For example, during a check ride I will ask; "What will our ground speed will be today?", "What power setting will you use to get your planned true airspeed?"' and "What will our fuel burn be?". Unfortunately, I sometimes get the confused puppy dog look? I'll give you a hint to the answers. All flight planning, regardless of using an app or not, starts with the AFM/POH.
Some airplanes have been highly modified since leaving the factory floor. How have these modifications changed the AFM/POH performance numbers? I once had a 1976 C-172 with an Airplaines 180 Horsepower engine upgrade. If I used the factory AFM/POH performance numbers I would have been off on my ground speed and fuel burn by a lot. I had to use the Airplaines AFM supplement to get correct data. This also meant I could NOT use the generic C-172 performance data found in my flight planning app. I had to modify the app data to get accurate ground speed, fuel burn and ETE.
I personally use Foreflight for most of my flight planning. I don't care who's app you use but each app has a couple of common pitfalls. Like, in order to correct winds aloft data you have to have an internet connection AND have an accurate ETD entered. Without this you will have incorrect GS, ETE, ETA and fuel burn. Another issue. How does your app correct for Deviation and Variation? Something we use to think about using a paper flight plan form is no longer discussed. Is this a big deal? It could be if you're not applying the information correctly.
Don't misunderstand me, I embrace and use technology as much as I can. You just have to understand where the pit falls are to keep you out of trouble.