COMMON ERRORS ON PRACTICAL TESTS
THE FOLLOWING ARE COMMON (BAD) TRENDS ON PRACTICAL TESTS
APPOINTMENT WITH THE EXAMINER
Nothing screams "I'm not ready to be a PIC" more than showing up to a practical test without the required materials. The ACS and PTS have a checklist of materials and documents that you need to bring to the test, it's labeled "Practical Test Checklist (Applicant) / Appointment with the Examiner". This includes aircraft maintenance logs (or copies) to verify airworthiness. If you do not have the required materials, we can not start the test.
- IACRA applications: IACRA only keeps applications on file for 2 months. It is extremely important for your CFI to be available at our meeting time in case logbooks need corrections or if there are issues with your IACRA application. If your application is not in IACRA and your CFI is not available to help re-submit, your test will need to be cancelled (canx fee applies) and your test will need to be rescheduled.
Before the test, I will be verifying your identity. Your names on your IACRA, Pilot Certificate, FAA Written Exam, Medical Certificate and your government issued photo ID should match exactly, including the middle name. Middle initials are not allowed unless all you have is a middle initial as your legal middle name.
GROUND TRAINING NOT LOGGED
Regulations require that you receive and log both ground and flight training. Be sure you have all required Ground logged or have a graduation certificate from an approved ground school IAW 61.105(b). If you do not have a graduation certificate from an approved online ground school, your logbook must include the aeronautical knowledge topics listed in FAR 61.105(b)(1-13). Although this is the responsibility of your CFI to log, you can help us both out by ensuring your ground instruction is logged in your logbook. We will not start the practical test unless you have ground instruction logged.
AIRCRAFT INSPECTION STATUS
- Be familiar with aircraft maintenance logbooks and be able to determine aircraft inspection status. DPE's must see the actual inspections signed off by an A&P or IA as appropriate. Cover letters or in-house spreadsheets are not permitted. If the actual aircraft logbooks are not accessible, I will take photo copies of the actual sign-offs.
- Often times, it is clear that the Applicant is looking at the aircraft logbooks for the first time on test day. Don't let this be you, it makes for a bad first impression and you could even be disapproved for the checkride if you are unable to verify status of airworthiness inspections.
ENDORSEMENTS MISSING OR INCORRECT ENDORSEMENTS
- The most recent AC 61-65 is your guide to proper endorsements.
- All Applicants (except Student Pilots going for Private or Sport Pilot) need to be current on your Flight Review. You will be PIC on the practical test, the test will be canceled if your Flight Review is not current!
- Private Pilot Applicants must have proper training prior to their first solo. This training must be logged and must include references to all 15 items required by FAR 61.87 (d)(1-15). If the training is not logged properly, none of your solo time will be accepted. Applicants must also be properly endorsed prior to solo's, back-dating is considered fraudulent and will not be accepted.
GROUND OPERATION TRENDS
- Not providing a taxi brief to Examiner and not having the airport diagram out during taxi
- Riding the brakes during taxi
- Taxiing too fast and turning off the runway too fast
- Not having crosswind control inputs in during taxi
- Riding brakes during takeoffs due to not keeping heels on the deck resulting in aircraft not efficiently accelerating
- Not using sufficient right rudder after Vr
- Forgetting to raise flaps after a soft or short field takeoff
- Short Field Landings: not retracting flaps (when POH calls for it) and not simulating or actually using maximum braking after touchdown. Also: not conducting Go-Around if approach is not stable or if aim-point will be missed. ACS allows a Go-Around.
- Retracting flaps on normal and soft-field landings: FAA guidance is to not touch flaps, windows or radio's while on roll-out from any landing. The only acceptable time to retract flaps while rolling on an active runway is for a short field landing (when the POH call for it). Reasoning: if you get used to retracting flaps on every landing roll-out, one day you may accidentally raise the gear on rollout when you upgrade to complex aircraft.
- Power off 180's: early flap selection resulting in landing too short or late flap selection resulting in landing too long.
- Not conducting the engine failure checklist
- Not planning the approach to land at the selected area while configured and on-speed
- Hint: 90% of the applicants I see are pretty good at spotting a field to land at, but what happens next always perplexes me: the field is 3 miles off the nose and we are at 4,000'. The applicant noses over, gains speed (way over best glide), and thinks they can do a straight-in. At speeds well above V l/d max, they are hoping they can get down, slow down, configure and make the field all in one swoop. This technique hardly ever works. There are other techniques out there where you remain at best glide and maneuver to a left or right downwind to your selected field. If you get there early, simply circle on the downwind until you are at 1,000' agl, then bring it in just like you do in the pattern when practicing engine failures. There are other techniques out there as well, all involve staying at best glide. Remember, in the real world you have the rest of your life to make this approach the best ever. One day your life really will depend on it. Whatever technique you use, be safe and remember to review what the ACS says about simulated engine failures. Never get slow and attempt to stretch a glide by pulling back!
- Descending below MDA
- Circling the wrong direction on a circling approach or not circling at all
- Turning the wrong way in holding
- Having wrong mode selected on GPS head (ie VLOC mode vs GPS mode)
- Attempting to circle with the foggles still on (still in simulated IMC conditions)
- Not being able to identify missed approach points
- Not being familiar with the FAA's handout "Flying Light Twins Safely". Google it, 50% of the oral board questions come from this document! You should also be very familiar with the multi-engine section of the AFH.
- Engine failures: at high altitudes and when introduced to an engine failure of unknown origin, Applicants are quick to conduct "the drill" and then shut the engine down before trying to troubleshoot. After the engine feathers, they then begin the troubleshooting checklist. I'm not sure how can you troubleshoot an engine when its already shut down.... The time to troubleshoot is when the engine is still running, and only if you have the time and altitude to permit.