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Passing Your 1st Checkride in Flight School

Passing Your 1st Checkride in Flight SchoolIf you did your research right and chose a solid flight school with FAA approved flight training curriculum and expert flight instructors you are on the right track to getting your pilot license.

The Purpose of Mock Checkrides

You’ve been studying and training hard to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to reach your goal of becoming a private pilot, and your flight instructor just announced it’s time to schedule a mock checkride. Congratulations! This means you are approaching the finish line of your initial training. And by scheduling you for a mock checkride, your CFI is accomplishing two important things: validating his or her opinion that you are fully prepared for the checkride, while providing you with a realistic dress rehearsal in preparation for the official checkride /home/flight-training-programs/individual-flight-training-courses.aspx with a designated pilot examiner (DPE).

Some CFIs conduct mock checkrides with their students in order to get a first-hand glimpse of a student’s performance under a quasi-checkride atmosphere. This can be effective for both student and CFI if the CFI truly maintains a DPE-like role throughout the experience. However, it is often difficult to produce and maintain a realistic checkride environment once a student/CFI relationship becomes as comfortable and familiar as they typically do. But more important, an overly relaxed environment eliminates the benefit of having to perform for a different person—possibly for the first time—all of the checkride’s required tasks.

For a mock checkride to be really effective it must include an entire checkride experience as much as possible—not just a mock flight test. It is unfortunate that some CFIs will conduct a mock checkride that concentrates mainly on the flight maneuvers, spending little time on the oral portion of the exam. And on checkride day, before the practical test can even begin, the DPE’s first obligation is to confirm that the applicant is qualified for the checkride; all too often, that answer is no! So the person conducting the mock checkride should begin by reviewing the pilot’s logbook—including ground and flight training records, student pilot certificate, and any required endorsements—to confirm that all prerequisites for the checkride have been accomplished and properly recorded.

Next, the student should be prepared to confidently present and discuss all required aircraft documents, maintenance logs, and records, demonstrating the proposed aircraft is ready for a safe and legal flight. Students who arrive on checkride day confused about this detail demonstrate an unfortunate lack of attention to this important task.
Since DPEs present scenario-based questioning throughout a practical test, the most effective and helpful mock oral exams will provide the student with a wide variety of scenarios in each area of operation. Doing this more accurately tests the depth of the student’s knowledge, and demonstrates the more realistic testing environment the DPE will create. While a student might be able to quickly and accurately respond to rote questions about airspace rules, for example, a solid understanding of how various airspace and VFR minimums apply to each other (correlation) is quickly assessed by asking a few scenario-style questions. DPEs are well practiced at determining the level of correlative learning through scenario-based questions, so effective mock checkrides should, too.

As for the flight portion, be sure to cover all of the required tasks that will be expected during the real checkride—not just the areas you believe will be the toughest. All too often, an applicant who received an abbreviated mock checkride does fine on everything except the one or two areas that had been overlooked.  Source

Having a mock checkride allows you to discover whether you performed the minimum prescribed PTS tolerances. If you did not, the price of the mock checkride will be worth every penny because it will allow you to work on your performance, correct mistakes and improve your chances of passing the check ride.

Checkride Preparation With Practical Test Standards (PTS)

By the end of your pilot training you’re faced with a check ride. Now its performance time to evaluate what you have learned pertaining to the rating you’re attempting to achieve. You are expected to perform precision maneuvers under the watchful eye of an experienced pilot examiner. The only way you will pass is by studying the material and practicing the maneuvers.

While there is a little room for error, some components are absolutely essential to get right both in the oral portion of the exam and during the flight test. And you can maximize your chances of acing your check ride by carefully studying the Practical Test Standards (PTS), published for each FAA rating.

The PTS is the FAA examiner’s bible. He or she must comply with the rules within the book and cannot test anything that is not included in the publication. There are several sections of particular importance. The first is called “Special Emphasis Area” and it highlights several safety related components that you need to be aware of. For example, one component is collision avoidance. If the examiner notices that you are not scanning for traffic during your checkride, he or she could technically give you the dreaded pink slip.

Other sections to pay extra attention to are the ones titled “Satisfactory Performance” and “Unsatisfactory Performance.” They tell you very clearly what you should and shouldn’t do if you want to pass your test. The PTS also states that you are expected to use a checklist and that it is the examiner’s job to attempt to distract you during the exam to test your ability to divide your attention while maintaining control of the airplane.

If you are applying for an additional rating, there is a table in the PTS that shows which sections of the PTS will be tested. There is also a handy checklist of equipment and documents that you need to bring to the exam. And it doesn’t hurt to go over the examiner’s checklist, too.

By reading the PTS cover to cover, you can make sure that there won’t be any surprises during the checkride. You can download the Practical Test Standards for all ratings on the FAA website, but if you prefer to get the information in print there are several publishers, including ASA and Jeppesen. Source

Top Reasons For Not Passing Your Checkrides
  1. Weather. The most common weakness during the oral exam is an inability to effectively interpret aviation weather charts, reports, and forecasts.
  2. Airspace. Many unsuccessful applicants arrive on checkride day with only a vague, rote level of knowledge regarding the various airspace details.
  3. Emergency landing. The many variables that make each engine-failure scenario unique also make the task of demonstrated emergency approach and landing especially challenging to master. Successful applicants consider several variables—nature of the emergency; altitude available; potential landing sites; and wind and surface conditions—while taking positive and timely corrective actions necessary to maximize the safety of the flight, never placing the flight in any undue, additional risk.
  4. Landings. Much has been said and written about the various landing maneuvers required for the private pilot checkride: normal, crosswind, soft-field, short-field, forward slip, and go-around. But the most important advice is proper practice, and lots of it! Proper means practice it correctly—not sloppily—so you won’t be learning bad habits from the start.
  5. Stalls. Next in line are the dreaded power-on and power-off stalls and spin awareness. While spin demonstrations are not called for on the checkride, most applicants are not only aware of spins, they are terrified of them. Knowing spins are the result of poorly coordinated stalls and stall-recovery attempts, students are often loath to practice stalls.
  6. Navigation. The last problem area on our hit list is, ironically, the first task typically demonstrated after departing the traffic pattern: cross-country navigation using pilotage skills. The biggest problem with this task often comes as a result of selecting inappropriate visual checkpoints along the planned route of flight. Source
Florida Flight School and Flight Training Programs

For more than 31 years Aviator has been the leader in multi-engine flight training. We have provided over 5000 professional pilots to the airline industry, both nationally and worldwide, through our Professional Pilot Flight Training Programs. Our FAA-certified Part 141 approved flight programs provide students with the skills and experience demanded by today’s commercial aviation industry. Aviator is accredited by the ACCSC (Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges).

Our Professional Pilot Program is set in a flight training, structured environment to ensure the student receives the knowledge that is required to be a professional pilot. This program is from 0 hours to over 250 hours, of which 200 hours will be multi-engine time. The program includes Private Pilot Single Engine through the Multi-Engine Flight Instructor Certificate. Cross Country flying is coast-to-coast, if desired.

Schedule a Visit
Aviator CFI, call 772-672-8222.
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