Private Pilot Checkride Common Problems
years, I've done more than a few Private Pilot Checkrides.
People usually pass on the first time, but there are some who don't. I've
complied a list of some problems I see during the test. I've added a checklist
to help ensure you are prepared when you and I meet for the test.
Make sure you and your instructor (and your 141 school if applicable)
are set up for IACRA. I don't like paper applications- too much chance
for errors. This is the most efficient way to go.
The steps the application goes thru if the school is FAR 61 are: A.
Pilot Applicant - B. Instructor - C. Examiner.
The steps the application goes thru if the school is FAR 141 are: A.
Pilot Applicant - B. 141 School Certifying Officer- C. Pilot Applicant -
D. Instructor - E. Examiner.
results - Only the stamped original, please. If IACRA, there is a
acceptable copy in an electronic form already there.
Print out a copy of the IACRA completed application
and get your instructor to sign it. This way, in the event the internet
is down, we can still proceed. When the internet is back up, we can
finish the application online (if the internet is back up the same day).
- Student Pilot
Certificate. Remember, this is valid for 60 Calendar Months if it was issued when
you are (were) under 40 (24 otherwise). Make sure it's valid and has the required endorsements on the back.
- Medical Certificate
- make sure it's still valid (see above for duration).
Logbook with YOUR
FULL NAME in it.
Photo ID - You need
at least one government issued photo ID.
Endorsements - please refer to
AC61-65E.pdf (or later version) Look at page 10 to 11.
- 141 Graduation Certificate, issued within the last 60
Proof in your
training records that you meet at least the minimum requirements for FAR
61 or 141, as appropriate.
- Maintenance records for the
Airplane - Airframe and Engine and Propeller, including an record of the
status of AD notes.
Aeronautical Charts as required.
An Airport Facility
Directory or some other
flight guides that essentially say the same thing, as long as they are
- Make sure the
certificates onboard the aircraft are in order.
Examiner fees. See
the main page on this website for my fee schedule.
Problems on the Test
Check out: Maintenance records
- First, I'd like to point out that it is not my choice
to test on all of these items, The FAA requires it. The
maintenance/inoperative equipment/preventative maintenance areas are
almost always weak. Have you sat down and created a status sheet for the plane?
If you do, you will force yourself to become familiar with the inspection
status of the plane, including AD's. As PIC you are responsible.
- Logbooks -
Many applicants seem like they have never seen the logbooks for the airplane
until they look at them in my presence. You are looking
for: Annual, 100 hour inspection (if appropriate), ELT Inspection
91.207(d) (this is not the battery), ELT battery replacement date, in
addition to the ELT inspection, and the 91.413 transponder inspection date.
Depending on the way the mechanic signs off the 100 hour or annual, it
might require looking in the airframe, engine and propeller logbooks to
find these entries. AD status must be determined. I am primarily interested in the
status of any recurring AD's. How many recurring AD's are there on the
plane you fly?
How do you determine if something broke is not needed for the flight? 91.205? 91.213?
equipment list? Most private and rental
aircraft don't use an MEL.
- Most know they can do it, but not
where to look in the FAR's, and that they can't put things back together
if it involves complex assembly. I think that means a tire or brake
pad change on a
Cessna 150 is OK, but not on a Lear 55!
- Airspace -
Most can memorize it but some have problems applying it to the charts.
Know what airspace you'll be in at every moment of your XC flight plan and
what the requirements and vis/cloud clearances will be.
- Night Flying
- You need to know how to determine lighting at an airport, aero medical
factors affecting night flight.
- Navigation -
Most can plot the course on a chart, calculate a heading and time and then won't actually fly it. Some meander all over hoping
it's somewhere in front of them.
Procedures - Most people end up way too high on the final approach. They also try to
impress me by reading the checklist. I would rather see you do the things
needed, worry about a checklist when you have time. Remember you are
single-pilot. Don't forget we will go-around at no less than 500 feet AGL
if there isn't a runway in front of us.
- Short field
Landings - You calculated the distance over the obstacle. I usually
use the end of the runway for the placement of the 50ft obstacle, that
usually keeps us on the VASI. You are expected to land in the distance
that you calculated. You
will need to know how to use the brakes properly. If you cross
the threshold below 50ft after I said there is an obstacle at the end, you
just demonstrated you can't judge height! Most VASI's are adjusted for
- Sound Judgment
- It's amazing how few applicants understand that they are the PIC, not
the examiner or the controller. Above all the applicant must NEVER decide to do the
flight portion in conditions or situations that is beyond his personal
limits. Just because a pilot examiner is sitting there should have
absolutely nothing to do with the applicants decision to go flying. You're
being evaluated on your ability to handle the flight conditions not mine.
I'm not supposed to be a safety net. Just be sensible in making a decision. Never
let anyone tell you to do anything you believe to be unsafe. Short Field
Takeoff? Don't accept an intersection takeoff! Tell the
tower you need full length. (more PIC stuff!) One element of the Short
Field Takeoff is demonstrating that you can
use MAXIMUM available runway! How can that be done from the intersection?
It's a practical test, not theoretical.
- Stall Recovery-
I wish I could
cover up the airspeed indicator to make sure you are looking outside to
determine pitch attitude. Here is what
should not happen: At the moment of the stall the stick should not be
shoved briskly forward to break the stall, then add full power and wait
till Vy to start climbing again. All that does is lose altitude.
Granted, it un-stalls the wing, but if you do that near the ground we will be
STREET PIZZA! The correct procedure is basically this: 1. Relax
back pressure until the stall horn is gone
or there is no buffeting and only that far. Add full power as you are
doing this. Use rudder to keep a wing from dropping. 2. Reduce the flap to
approach setting while maintaining an attitude that is un-stalled. 3. Allow
the airplane to accelerate to Vy then retract the remaining flap.
The objective of stall recovery is a minimum altitude loss during recovery.
P.S. If flaps are extended,
what are you doing at or above Vy? It's extra drag, isn't it?
Remember that the maneuvers you are asked to perform have
a purpose. You will be a better pilot if you try to apply scenarios to the
maneuvers you perform.
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