Private Pilot Checkride Study Guide - Part 1


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.

What to expect

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:

  1. Introductions, pleasantries.
  2. Requirements and endorsements.
  3. Aircraft airworthiness.
  4. “Main” part of the oral.

Introductions, pleasantries

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?”

Requirements and Endorsements

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.

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.

Aircraft Airworthiness

Required inspections — AAVIATE

Acronym Explanation How Often
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.

Special flight permits (Ferry permits)

Airworthiness Directives (ADs)

Inoperative Equipment

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:

  1. If the inoperative equipment is indicated as required on the aircraft’s POH, then the aircraft is unairworthy.
  2. If the inoperative equipment is not required per the POH (or if the POH does not specify whether the equipment is required or not) the rules of FAR 91.205 come into play.
    • If for day VFR, use “GOOSE A CAT”.
    • For night VFR, use “FLAPS”.
      If the inoperative equipment is required per the above regulations, the aircraft is considered unairworthy and must not be flown.

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.

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