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12-21-2006, 08:00 AM
Hello everyone,

I am about to go for Stage II check and am preparing myself mentally and academically for the task at hand, but the idea of the final Check Ride which is not too far away is starting to play on my nerves a bit, and I was wondering if you all could provide some input as to common reasons why people who successfully make it up to the Check Ride end up failing the test (like losing -100 ft. altitude in steep turns :D ), whether it be for paperwork, oral exam, or flight exam.

I train out of San Antonio, and I overheard a check ride examiner chewing the student he failed who tried to fly from San Antonio to San Marcos (heading 050) and ended up in Seguin (heading 080)...DOH!!! I bet this guy was so freaked out he forgot to look at his heading. Making a simple mistake like this has got me on edge a little bit..I hope I don't do something dumb like that!

If you instruct or just have information about reasons why people typically fail the checkride, please share so that new pilots can avoid them!



12-21-2006, 08:28 AM
Oral Exam: Being afraid to admit you don't know the answer might be one of the biggest. Second, not knowing where to find things you don't know. Third, learn your airplane.

Flight: If you screw up on altitude, recognize it and ask to do it again. More often than not they'll let you try again. Take it easy, take your time. I saved myself on my instrument checkride because rather than doing a touch-and-go on one of the approaches I did a full stop and sat at the hold short line for 5 minutes composing myself and getting my plates in order.

Examiners are more concerned with making sure you're a safe pilot than if you can do a steep turn +/-20ft. Recognize your mistakes. However you'll not likely pass if you have to go around 4 times.

AOPA Flight Training has a good article this month on "10 Most Common Checkride Busts". Check it out.

12-21-2006, 12:26 PM
Everyone of my students leaves the classroom with the phrase, "I don't know, but I know where to find it" tattooed to their forehead, in hopes that by some crazy method of osmosis it stops them from WAG-ing on the oral.

There's only three reasons to fail a ride:
1. Something stupid
2. Not being prepared (Typically that responsibility will fall on the instructor).
3. Some evil, maniacal, screaming examiner

12-22-2006, 12:24 PM
Definitely dont "invent" answers for the examiner. They have years and years of experience listening to both good and bad answers to their questions, so they know BS when they hear it. If you do give them some sort of BS answer, they might reply with "Oh really, why dont you tell me some more about that...." ;)

You should *always* be working to show your DE that you are a safe pilot. I have seen several instances where somewhat marginal performances were allowed to pass becuase the pilot otherwise gave the impression of competence. If you make mistakes, point them out and ask for another chance to correct them. Nobody's perfect and the examiners know that :)

Good luck on your stage check and your checkride!

12-22-2006, 12:49 PM
I bet this guy was so freaked out he forgot to look at his heading. Making a simple mistake like...
I picked this sentence to make a point. Failing the check ride is rarely for one simple mistake. In your example, the student did not fail because he flew the wrong heading, he failed because he continued to fly the wrong heading all the way to the wrong city!

Flying requires constant evaluation to confirm your present actions are correct. If you are making a mistake, you need to correct the mistake and move on. If you ever find yourself doing nothing during a check ride, you are forgetting something. Talk aloud if you need to. Just keep asking yourself, "What should I be doing now?"

PS. Check rides have always been anticlimatic for me, always easier than I thought it would be.

12-27-2006, 06:53 AM
I believe the PTS uses the phrase "continually exceeding tolerances" to describe a failure. Nobody's perfect. If you make a mistake, FIX IT. Don't just assume you're dead in the water. I gotta agree with Mike. On my initial part 135 PIC checkride, I set up a GPS approach. I began to fly the heading that the GPS said to the initial approach fix. I was continually re-analyzing how things were going. I noticed that the heading didn't seem to make sense. Ok, time to do something different. I wasn't busted because I took steps to correct my mistake. The check airman said that he doesn't mind when people make mistakes if they figure it out and correct it. It shows that you are capable when you can fix your own mistakes without being prompted. Good luck. The best thing to do is relax and not forget that you are the PIC and the examiner is just a knowledgeable passenger.

12-27-2006, 09:52 PM
If you make a major, obvious screw-up and don't notice and correct it asap you are done.

Other than that, many failures are due to a cummulative "gut feeling" that the examiner has developed, usually starting during the oral. When the examiner reaches his no-go conclusion based on the over progress of things, he will start looking for something specific to write on the pink-slip (and he WILL find it).

The key is to avoid massive, catastrophic errors and to generally impress the guy. Maintain a confident demeanor, and never give up. Even if a manuever was rough, keep plugging away. A strong, confident oral and check ride can give you the momentum to get away with a moderate error that technically was out of PTS standards. BTDT.

III Corps
12-28-2006, 04:14 AM
Hello everyone,

Making a simple mistake like this has got me on edge a little bit..I hope I don't do something dumb like that!

If you instruct or just have information about reasons why people typically fail the checkride, please share so that new pilots can avoid them!



You are going to make a few mistakes. It happens. No big deal IF you correct the mistakes and MOVE ON. Don't spend time worrying if the inspector saw it. S/he probably did. What they are looking for is not an error free ride but that you show you know what you are doing, can keep ahead of the airplane and can deal with problems that develop.

IF you err, move on. Many times students make a mistake and then spend x minutes thinking "Damn.. there goes the ride.." and all the while they are thinking about the error, the airplane is moving, events are evolving, and things are changing. Most likely while you are focused on the error, your attention is away from what is happening and another error may be unfolding.

Also, try to maintain a constant pace.. by that I mean don't let yourself get rushed. Again, people, not just pilots, don't do well when rushed. Let's say you're doing the stall series... and you forget something. Tell the examiner, "I can do better. Let me try that again." What have you got to lose?

Fly the profile in your head a few times. Sit down, visualize all the maneuvers you will have to fly and practice them. The world's best simulator is sitting on top of your shoulders. You can repeat maneuvers time and time again so when you get in the airplane, it is just a matter of doing what you have practiced.

Finally, IF the check airman was 'chewing' on the student, try to get another examiner. Chewing does little in most cases to facilitate learning, especially on a sub-standard ride or event, and far too many check airmen/examiners love to show how much they know and how little the student knows.

Keep us posted on your successes...

01-03-2007, 05:19 PM
Buddy of mine failed an IFR Ride because he didn't know his systems info about the airplane he was flying, didnt put the loc freq in correctly for an ILS, and incorrectly flew a hold.

01-03-2007, 05:20 PM
But I dont think that just one of these mistakes, if they were caught and corrected, would have failed him, considering he was able to progress with the ride after a flubbed oral, and even after a messed up ILS. Just dont let the errors compound without corrective action

01-13-2007, 01:32 AM
If you know who your examiner is going to be ahead of time, it's never a bad idea to ask pilots who've had him/her before about the ride. They can usually give you tips about what the examiner will expect. Naturally they will expect you to fly to the standard, but most do realize that your just what your title says - student pilot and that's nothing's simply saying that you are learning. If you knew EVERYTHING, you wouldn't be going for your private, you'd be going for your CFI. I've never been too worried about checkrides, and have done very well thus far...but my DPE for my private told me one thing that I've always kept in my mind...that the private certificate, is a certificate to learn. So whether you go on to be a 3000 hour weekend warrior, or a 747 captain...always keep in mind that you will never know it all about flying, and always maintain that I want to learn something new on every flight attitude - it'll make it much more enjoyable.

We have examiners here who will fail you for missing one question. i.e. a friend failed the IFR for not knowing what FAR part 95 is. It does apply to IFR flights, but it's not in the FAR, and who would think to study something that isn't listed in the FAR's? Do I agree, no - but that's how some are. We have others, who could care less if you get them all wrong, as long as you fly the airplane. It depends on the examiner. When I went for my multi, he pushed me hard on systems - which wasn't my strongest point...and if I wasn't sure, he'd let me sit there and talk for 15 minutes until I came up with the answer. He wasn't quick to say no your wrong, leave. He helped me figure it out. His questions were all scenario based, and made you think. In the plane however, he expected me to be able to fly a Vmc demo to standards, etc.

Confidence will get you further than anything. If your constantly changing your answer, and second guessing yourself...the examiner will question whether you'll second quess yourself when stuff hits the fan in a real situation. They know your nervous, they know your going to forget your name in the beginning, and they know that over the next 50 hours your going to improve dramatically. Also, like a few others have said...if you reeeally don't know something admit it. The examiner has a lot more experience than you, and trying to make something up really isn't going to work. Just know where to look it up - now don't use this more than you have to. Too many times, and it's obvious you aren't ready. ASA has a great oral exam guide, and definitely review the airplane flying handbook.

Don't use the PTS as the only thing you study from, but definitely review it prior to your checkride in order to really get yourself familiar with what to expect. You'll really be surprised how we'll you'll fly on the ride.

Take your time answering questions, bring water to drink, and most of all - have fun!!! We've all been there many of times, and we've all survived. :-D