Wednesday, May 20, 2015

CFI Checkride passed - full report

Today I passed my CFI initial check ride on the first try.  I've been working on this for awhile, and I can honestly say it was by far my most difficult accomplishment in aviation thus far.  Here is my long winded check ride report, which might be useful to anyone prepping.

Checkride started at 7 am.  I was assigned a DPE by the San Diego FSDO which is where I did the training ( - excellent place to go).  The DPE was a fairly relaxed guy, he didn't seem out to get me and seemed to genuinely want me to pass.  After completing IACRA and verifying my written tests, my medical, pilot certificate and photo ID, we started with small talk and him asking about my background.  He reviewed my logbook endorsements for the CFI checkride and also my ground log entries for 61.185 and 61.187. After that we started on FOI.  He started it out by posing that a student had just come to me and if I thought it was important to know why he wanted to learn to fly.  Of course I said yes and then he wanted to know why it was important.  This lead to a discussion of human behavior, maslow's hierarchy of needs, etc.  He asked about what defense mechanisms I might expect if someone was having trouble with landings.  He asked how I would handle a student who became angry and started hitting the glareshield with his fists in frustration.  We discussed "problem" students and how many CFI's just pass the buck to the next CFI.

We discussed the meaning of professionalism and he seemed very satisfied with my descriptions of doing what you say you are going to do, proper language, appearance, etc.  We then discussed the principle of primacy, why it's important and he asked me to give an example of positive/negative transfer of learning.  He asked me about memory and how I can help a student best remember things I teach him (intensity, recency, etc).  He asked about SBT and what I thought that meant, I discussed the FITS program and gave examples of SBT.  He asked about lecture method and why it's used, and I gave examples from how things are done at UC Berkeley and he seemed pretty interested in that.  He asked how I would facilitate a guided discussion.  He asked how I would critique a student and gave an example of a type A business owner with a high self esteem vs a meek librarian and how I might alter my critique for each.  He was emphatic about the importance being prepared, making sure the student comes prepared.

He asked how I could insure I was providing adequate instruction, and posed the scenario of working at a busy flight school and having 3 or more students per day, how would I keep track of their progress and not be unprofessional by being unclear on where they are.  I discussed a syllabus and taking notes.  We discussed evaluation vs critique, fairness, comprehensiveness etc. Overall this section went very well and I had no issues here.

Then we did runway incursion avoidance.  This was straightforward, I started with the United 1448 scenario and talked him through that, which he seemed to really love.  I discussed the definition of Runway Incursion and noted that I found it important that it uses the words "Incorrect" and not "Unauthorized", reinforcing that controllers can authorize runway incursions, and that it's your life on the line, and drew that back to United 1448.  Then I went down the PTS and hit every line item, and gave an explanation or example of each.  I discussed uncontrolled fields and related the story about the guy who landed opposite me who had an outdated chart with the wrong frequency on it.  He seemed to really like personal stories and examples, and acted visibly bored by more academic discussion. The rest was all the standard stuff, getting lit to be visible, following taxi diagram, etc. Then we did endorsements.  He walked me through a scenario from no pilot experience, to the pre-solo test, to the solo endorsements, to the 25 NM endorsement, the 50 NM endorsement, to the first cross country, 50 NM to the knowledge test to the private checkride.

We discussed the logging of flight and ground time, and he stressed the importance of writing clear logbook entries and asked me about the proper format for logbook entries I would make for students, what needs to be there etc.  He gave me a scenario of endorsing a student to fly solo repeatedly from KSEE to KRNM, what would be required in terms of teaching and endoresment and stressed the importance of giving training for the route in both directions, and spelling that out in the logbook entries.  His reasoning had to do with what the FAA would look for if my student screwed up and flew into the Bravo by mistake.  He had a big emphasis on CYA logbook and endorsements (Cover your ass, what will the lawyers look for).  He told me to underline 61.93 (b) 1 i

Then we did aircraft systems.  He was big on systems.  He asked me if the engine would quit if he shut off the master and the alternator in flight, and wanted to know why at a very detailed level.  He had me explain in detail how the magnetos work, and was chagrined that I didn't explain it with a diagram.  He wanted to know how the mags are connected to the engine, how they turn, what drives them, and also about the fuel pump, the boost pump, the vacuum system.  He wanted me to explain what a cylinder is and again was upset I didn't have a picture of one (eventually found one in PHAK).  He asked me why a cylinder was necessary and what a piston was, how it worked, how 4 stroke engines worked, what the valves do, how a carburator works vs fuel injection, how fuel injectors work, how the intake brings in fuel, how the CS prop works.  He asked in details about the landing gear system, and wanted very detailed but simple explanations.  He asked questions like "What does hydraulic mean?"  and "What do you mean by actuator?  What's an actuator??"  when discussing how the hydraulic system actually moves the gear up/down.  He wanted descriptions like "an actuator is a mechanical cylinder that has a piston inside that is moved by high pressure from the hydraulic line".  Pictures are good, I didn't have nearly enough pictures for this section.

Then we did airworthiness.  We went through the aircraft maintenance and log entries, and he was very unsatisfied with a cursory look at something like the annual inspection signoff to make sure it was done, and the dates/validity period etc.  He wanted me to refer to the specific FAR that required the annual inspection first.  Then he wanted me to explain what everything meant on there, he asked questions about the mechanics signature, like "What if it didn't say IA at the end there? What's an IA?"  He did this for all the requirements such as the transponder check, the ELT check, ELT batteries... he wanted me to refer to the FAR on each, and then discuss what to look for in the maintenance entry to ensure it was correct.  He was big on AD's and got really hung up on the 61X AD report which had unsigned items even though I explained why as per my mechanics explanation to me.  I thought he was going to not allow it but eventually he excepted the signature at the bottom of the page.  We did a simple W&B.

Then he had me teach him emergency approach/landing.  I gave the whole lesson and he didn't say anything until the very end when he said I never told him what the objective was.  I reminded him that I told him the objective at the beginning and then he said he guess he wasn't listening... ha.  The only feedback he had on the lesson was that he thought I should only have 1 high key and that it should be directly over the approach end numbers.   Those were the major oral areas.  The others were more cursory such as principles of flight, runway/taxiway markings.  He did ask me about light gun signals.  All in all this took about 6.5 hours.

Then we went the plane and did the preflight task, he acted like a private student. He thought it important to smell the fuel, and to have a student smell jet fuel so they know to recognize it on smell.  He got a bit hung up that I didn't discuss the ground power unit, how to use it etc.  I explained that I didn't think a private student should use a GPU, that on small planes it's primarily for avionics shop testing and not for starting, which could be dangerous for a private pilot to attempt, but he still wanted me to talk about it.  He wanted me to explain what the items visible on the cowl were (oil cooler, prop governor, starter adapter) and also point out breakpad wear and wheel fasteners.  
The weather had gotten bad and a storm was approaching, so I wasn't optimistic I would be able to finish.  The storm was going to be a real doozy with thunderstorms and major rain.  We were able to do the short field and soft field take offs and landings but then had to discontinue due to weather.

We met at KCRQ a few days later to finish up.  KCRQ was a lot less busy than KSEE and has easy access to the practice area so this was not an issue.  We started out reviewing the aircraft docs again and I handed him my letter of discontinuance and he went through all my documents again.  This time, it was a quick perusal of the aircraft docs to show it was airworthy, in annual, elt check, etc.  Then we got out my terminal area chart and he briefed the check ride, telling me loosely what to expect.

We did an abbreviated preflight since we had already done that, and I informed him I had fueled the plane and done a preflight before he arrived.  Normal taxi and run up.  He told me to teach him a right downwind departure, normal takeoff and I talked him through that.   There were some clouds so I extended the crosswind leg and simply told him what I was doing. Then he had me put on the hood, and teach him basic instrument flight under the hood.  I'm not sure why I needed to be under the hood for this, seemed silly for the instructor (me) to be under the hood but I didn't argue.  Taught him constant airspeed climbs and standard rate turns and told him which instrument was primary/secondary.  We climbed to 7500 ft.  He said he was a commercial student.  Then I demonstrated/taught steep turns, a chandelle and lazy eights.  He wanted to know the common errors and PTS standards for each.  Then we did slow flight, with turns and a climb.  That led into power off stalls and recovery.  Then we did an accelerated stall.  After that we did steep spiral down to about 6000 ft.

We then flew over Pauma valley airport and did a simulated engine failure.  I taught him the procedure and went through the flow items and followed with a checklist, no restart.  We circled about 4 times over the high key and ran through all the checklists, declaring and squawking, and it ended when I simulated opening the door.  Then we flew over to a water tank and did turns on a point, followed by eights on pylons on a couple pylons that he picked out.  After that he had me teach him what to do if the gear didn't extend, and then asked me to teach him how to recognize and deal with an alternator failure.

 The check ride ended with a normal landing and taxi back.  We parked the plane and did the shutdown procedure and he didn't say anything.  I asked him if I passed and he asked me if I thought I passed, and I replied that I think I'll be a good instructor, and he said he agreed. Initially I was disappointed I wasn't able to complete the checkride in one day due to the weather situation, but in retrospect I think it was a good thing.  I was fresh and ready for the flying, and not tired and frazzled after the 7 hour oral.  Overall the DPE was a good, solid and fair examiner and did his best to keep things professional yet relaxed.  

1 comment:

  1. Congrats! Great write up, it sure sounds like you had it all together and had a good work out.