The Grumpy Pilot Examiner
When I became a pilot examiner one of the things I vowed not to become was a grumpy pilot examiner. You've seen the type. Kind of gruff, unhappy and generally ticked off. Well, after 12 years of being a pilot examiner I can see why these normally even tempered guys seemed grumpy during check rides. I think it was because they see the same problems time and time again. They've put in time and effort to help fix these problems but to no avail. In the last couple of months I've found myself getting a little frustrated with some of the on goings out there. Here are some of the problems that should not be showing up on check rides.
1. Endorsements. I've seen applicants show up with no endorsements for the practical test, no endorsements on the student pilot certificate and even one private pilot applicant signed off for a commercial check ride. Several student pilots have flown to JVL for their private pilot check ride only to discover they did NOT have a current 90 day solo endorsement.
2. Not being qualified for the check ride. This should be discovered well before the check ride is even scheduled. One applicant for an initial CFI Airplane Single Engine showed up without holding a Commercial Airplane Single Engine rating. He held a Commercial Multi engine but no Single engine. One Instrument applicant only had 35 hours of cross country PIC when 50 is required. Another Instrument applicant did his long instrument cross country with a safety pilot. A CFII is required for that. One commercial ASEL applicant did his long SOLO cross country with his 12 year old son on board (Note: Solo means no other person on the aircraft). One private pilot applicant did not have the 3 take off and landings at a controlled airport. Another private pilot applicant had the 5 hours of cross country time but those cross country flights had only been to airports 25 to 30 miles from the departure airport (they have to be greater than 50 NM). Another private applicant didn't have the 3 hours of instrument time. Several private pilot applicants have shown up with exactly 10 hours of solo time listed on the 8710 but, after looking threw the log book, we discover we where short do to a math error or a solo flight that was really an instructional flight.
3. Not being legal to fly as PIC. I have had two applicants in the last 2 month show up for additional aircraft ratings WITHOUT having current flight reviews. One of those applicants was a commercial pilot seeking a CFI. The other was an ATP doing a helicopter ride. Both should have known they didn't have a current BFR.
4. Unairworthy aircraft. The biggest problem is those pesky reoccurring Airworthiness Directives. Unless it is allowed in the AD, you can NOT overfly the time interval. There is NO 10 hour grace period. I've also had an applicant bring an airplane to a check ride without a current annual. It wasn't out of annual by just a week or two but by 3 months.
5. Not prepared for the practical test. This one is sad and, until this year, I've only seen twice in 12 year. In the last 4 months I have had 3 applicants signed off for their check ride that should have never been. One of those applicants took me almost 2 hours to get the missing endorsements in order and to make sure he was qualified to take the check ride. When we did start the oral it was painfully clear he was not prepared. I'll save you the depressing details but try as I could, after 45 minutes of confused looks, rephrasing questions and bizarre answers, I pulled the plug. The other 2 weren't as bad but close. It was almost like the instructors had given up on them and just wanted to get ride of them.
The frustrating part about all of these things is that they are 100% preventable. In most of these cases I could not even start the check ride. The applicant is sent home ticked off and I'm left wondering what kind of training the applicant received. If someone would have spent a little time and attention to detail none of these problem would have shown up on my doorstep.
So I'll stop venting and take a deep breath in an attempt to relax a little. All in effort of NOT becoming one of those grumpy pilot examiners!
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