Usually, your CFI will contact me about your check ride. Sometimes your CFI will have you contact me directly, and I’m OK with that too. A phone call or an email will work fine. Once we start to firm up a date for your evaluation, I’ll send an email with three documents. One is a request for information such as name, email, phone number, type of rating requested, type of airplane, your FTN as well as a few other items. The FTN (file tracking number) is from IACRA (IACRA.faa.gov) which I use to get to your application. Except for unusual situations, IACRA is used to produce an application, and you will need to log into IACRA when we meet for your evaluation. The next document I’ll send is your scenario for the check ride, and the last is a copy of the privacy act and Pilot’s Bill of Rights. I’m required to ensure you have seen these documents, so I like to send them before the check ride day. The purpose of all of this is efficiency. Your time is valuable, and so is mine and preloading some of the administration requirements smooths the process. Before check ride day, I use your FTN to review your application. That way I can ensure you meet the requirements of your evaluation and that I’m qualified to do it. I can also check that your CFI has e-signed your application in IACRA and review your written test (if one is required). If possible, I would also like photos of your logbook endorsements sent via text. Just take a snapshot with your phone and send it to me as this is another area of check ride drama. If I see the endorsements in advance, we can fix any problem that might exist. The bottom line for endorsements is for the CFI to follow AC 61.65F (as of this post), don’t just use whatever is in the back of the logbook as the regulations may have changed since you purchased your logbook. I’m required to review the aircraft maintenance logbooks and documents to ensure the aircraft is airworthy. So tabbing the required inspections, ADs, etc. speeds up this process. Finally, read the Airman Certification Standards (ACS) or Practical Test Standards (PTS) for your check ride!! These documents tell you what I’m going to expect and they have handy checklists of the items you need to have for check ride day. Following these techniques will help us get off to a great start on the day of your check ride!
Here are some check ride problems that I’ve encountered recently. The private pilot Airmen Certification Standards (FAA-S-ACS-6A w/chg 1 dated June 2017) states in skill element PA.II.D.S9 that the applicant “Use an airport diagram or taxi chart during taxi”. This is pretty clear; you must have a diagram out if one is available for your airport! Also note the Knowledge task of PA.II.D.K6a. “briefing the location of Hot Spots”. Knowledge elements are tested in the knowledge test but you should note the hot spots if they apply to your airfield. Not clear as to where to find these tasks? Look at Appendix A (page A-6 on the current ACS):
Currently the Knowledge Test uses the old “Learning Codes” but will soon be upgraded to reference the ACS task elements. This coding applies to all elements whether Knowledge, Risk, or Skill. Appendix A also provides guidance to examiners (e.g. the DPE). Note page A-8 states:
Again, this is pretty clear guidance and you and your CFI should review the ACS to ensure all areas are covered. Another item to note in Appendix A (pages A-9 and 10) is unsatisfactory performance. The last item on this list “Failure to exercise risk management”. As previously discussed each Area of Operation in the ACS has three elements and one of these is Risk. Don’t forget to review the Risk elements of each task! I’ve referenced the Private Pilot ACS but this post applies to the other ACS (instrument and commercial) as well. Here’s to a great check ride!