Posted on Sat Nov 9, 2019 at 20:30 UTC
Congratulations! You are at the entry gates to an exclusive club. Your months of preparation have paid off, and you’re about to take your final step to becoming a licensed pilot.
Only one thing stands in your way – your practical test (colloquially called your “checkride”).
In this series of articles, I will attempt to give you an introduction to the practical test and a study guide that will increase your chances of success. We will cover:
So, join me as we dive into the private pilot practical test.
A practical test consists of two sections – the oral and the flight test. The oral always comes first, and passing the oral is mandatory to continue the test to the flight portion.
The typical oral portion of the exam goes like this:
This gives the examiner a chance to know you - a (soon-to-be) private pilot. They’re typically interested in what motivated you to become a pilot, any aspirations to become a professional pilot, etc.
It is in your best interest to dress and behave professionally. Make sure to reach the exam venue on time (or, preferably, ahead of time.) Have some answers prepared for typical questions like “Why do you want to be a pilot?” or “What motivated you to take up flying?”
The examiner will review your IACRA and your log book. They will need to make sure that the IACRA has been accurately filled out, and that the logged hours in the log book tally with those in IACRA.
The examiner will also verify that the hours logged meet the requirements of the relevant FARs (in the case of the Private Pilot test, this will be FAR 61.109).
Here are some pointers to make sure that this portion of your test goes smoothly. This will also give you some “brownie points” with the examiner.
Total all columns in your log book - in ink. If the last entry in your log book occurs partially through a page, use a pencil to total the last page alone.
Use flags or tabs to mark the pages in your log book where you completed some of the critical milestones for your rating. For example, mark the dual and solo cross-country flights, the night cross-country, instrument time (“hood” time), etc.
Have your CFI double-check that they have made all the relevant endorsements during your training. In particular, there are 3 endorsements that must be signed in your log book to allow you to take the practical test. These must be endorsed, or you will not be able to continue with the practical test. The three endorsements are:
The next step in the oral is, typically, making sure your aircraft is airworthy. This also helps the examiner cover one of the required sections in the Private Pilot Airmen Certification Standards (ACS), specifically section I.B (Preflight preparation / Airworthiness requirements).
Let us now dive into the study guide itself.
|A||Annual Inspection||Every 12 months|
|A||Airworthiness Directives||As mandated by the AD|
|V||VOR Inspection (For IFR flights only)||Every 30 days|
|1||100-hr (if operated for rent/hire)||Every 100-hours|
|A||Altimeter & Pitot Static System Inspection||Every 24 months|
|T||Transponder Inspection||Every 24 months|
|E||Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT)||Every 12 months|
Be prepared to show these entries in the aircraft log books - airframe, powerplant (i.e. engine) and propeller.
An aircraft can be flown with certain equipment inoperative — under certain conditions.
The decision tree for this can be complex, but the key rules are as follows:
If the equipment is not required per the above, the aircraft can be flown, but the inoperative equipment must be removed or placarded as inoperative.