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Flight Training - Training Resources

Private Pilot Single Engine Land

Your Practical Test Standards (PTS) Is The Bible!

  • The current version is FAA-S-8081-14A dated August 2002.
  • The PTS states that all tasks and all elements must be tested, however, the examiner may combine tasks and elements. All tasks and elements must be tested.
  • The PTS represents only the minimum standard of performance.
  •  All of the answers to the oral questions must come from references drawn out of the PTS. If another non-FAA publication says essentially the same thing as the FAA then that reference is OK also.

Satisfactory Performance:

  • The applicant performs the approved task and elements for the certificate or rating sought within the approved standards.
  • The applicant demonstrates mastery of the aircraft with the successful outcome of each task performed never seriously in doubt.
  • The applicant demonstrates satisfactory proficiency and competency within the approved standards.
  • The applicant must demonstrate sound judgment

Unsatisfactory Performance:

  • Any action or lack of action by the applicant, which requires corrective intervention by the examiner to maintain safe flight.
  • Failure to use proper and effective visual scanning techniques to clear the area before and while performing maneuvers.
  • Consistently exceeding tolerances stated in the objectives.
  • Failure to take prompt corrective action when tolerances are exceeded.

If a task or element becomes Unsatisfactory, the examiner must tell the applicant that it is unsatisfactory and the practical test cannot be completed. The Examiner and Applicant with mutual agreement may continue testing further elements to gain credit for any other areas. This is always a correct decision!

  • In general, no second chances are usually allowed. Do not start a maneuver until you are ready. Do not let an examiner rush you. If during an assigned landing or approach you elect to do a go around, this is not counted as a fail, unless you make an unreasonable number of attempts (probably 2). This number is at the discretion of the examiner.
  • Status of the Examiner during a flight check - The examiner is NOT PIC. The student must be aware that he/she is responsible for the safety of the airplane even if an emergency is present and the student has asked the examiner to fly.

The Basic Practical Test

There is no difference between the oral exam and the flight test. Basically, questions will be asked around each PTS area of operation. Take each AOA and EMPHASIS AREA and go through each of the elements. The applicant should be able to answer questions regarding these areas. Prior to the test date the applicant will be given certain calculation type assignments to prepare before he/she comes for the checkride. These are:

  • Cross-country flight planning - Prior to the practical test (usually the evening before the checkride) the student will be telephoned and given the destination to plan the flight to. The applicant needs to do a flight plan one way to the destination. Plot the course on the chart and fill out a navigation log.  Remember you are using 'pilotage' and 'ded. reconing' only, not the VOR system. Weather information should be the weather on the day of the check ride, including the most current winds aloft forecast.
  • Performance Data - The applicant will likely also be given some performance calculation to do as part of the XC. This is usually a takeoff and landing distance over a 50-ft. obstacle.
  • Weight and Balance - The applicant will be asked to do a weight and balance as part of the XC. The examiner will supply his weight.
  • The applicant must also bring the logbooks for the airplane and demonstrate that all of the required inspections have been done INCLUDING the status of any RECURRING AD's.
  • Upon successful completion of the knowledge area questions the flight portion will begin:

The Flight Check

The basic flight check may go something like the following: You will depart as if you were on the XC, next comes instrument flying, do some maneuvers at altitude, do ground reference and emergencies, divert to another airport, and perform takeoffs and landings.

A more detailed description follows:

  • Normal takeoff with the intention of following the flight planned route. The applicant should update the navigation log with the takeoff time and update the ETA when en route.
  • The applicant will be asked to fly by reference to the flight instruments. The applicant must demonstrate straight and level, constant airspeed climbs and descents, turns, and unusual attitude recovery. The applicant will also be asked to track a VOR radial TO a station and directly FROM the VOR.
  • Maneuvers:
    • Steep turns one to the left and one to the right (45° bank)
    • Slow Flight - remember that the speed in the PTS is 1.2 x Vs1. The applicant will also demonstrate turns during slow flight using a 20° bank.
    • Power off Stall - The power off stall should be in the approach configuration (gear and flaps down). This does not mean you have to initiate a descent, just a stall from a slow speed. The applicant is no longer required to announce the first aerodynamic indication of the stall. A 20° bank left or right as the stall occurs will likely be required. The recovery should be made with a minimum loss of altitude. Climb at Vy once the stall is recovered.
    • Power On Stall - Remember to slow the airplane to rotation speed then apply full power (or a power setting that does not result in an extreme pitch attitude) and pitch gently for the stall (approx. 1-knot per second). A 20° bank left or right as the stall occurs will likely be required. The applicant is no longer required to announce the first aerodynamic indication of the stall. The applicant should recover with a minimum loss of altitude and adjust pitch to Vy after the climb has started.
    • Diversion - At a convenient time, the applicant will be diverted to another airport. The applicant will be required give an initial heading, altitude, and time en route to your selected alternate airport.
    • Traffic Patterns, Take-off's and Landings: You will be required to join a traffic pattern at some point during your checkride. If it is an uncontrolled airport use the procedure in the AIM chapter 4. Remember to arrive at the 45° at traffic pattern altitude so as not to descend on other traffic. Short, Soft, Normal, and if present, Crosswind take-off's and landings will be also be tested. A go around and a forward slip to a landing may also be tested. Be prepared to 'go around' during any landing.
    • Ground Reference Maneuvers: The stated PTS altitude for these maneuvers is 600 to 1,000 feet agl. Turns Around a Point and 'S' Turns will certainly be tested. The difficulty locating a suitable field to test the 'Rectangular Pattern' will likely allow the examiner to observe one of the several airport traffic patterns you will fly as your 'rectangular pattern'.
  • Emergencies:
    • An emergency approach to landing will likely be tested at an elevation of 3,000 or 4,000 feet. . You must be able to deliver the airplane to the intended landing area without over or undershooting and at or near the best glide speed for your airplane. Noise abatement considerations will likely not allow a descent below 500ft. AGL.
    • Emergency power loss while in the pattern may also be discussed.

Final Tips for the Applicant

  • "I don't know" is never an acceptable response. Grab the book and point out the correct answer.
  • Know EVERYTHING there is to know about the Sectional Chart, Airspace, and Weather Minimums.
  • Understand the performance section of the POH (Pilot's Operating Handbook). Know how you arrived at the true airspeed used in your flight log.
  • Be able to procure and interpret the weather and make a "go-no-go" decision. If you are not using Duat(s) you should be.
  • Once in the airplane assume the role of Pilot In Command. You are.
  • Use your checklist!! Do not start, taxi, or run-up without it.
  • Fly like you were trained. Your instructor trained you to the Practical Test Standards. If you are not clear what the examiner wants you to do ask for an explanation.
  • Hold your assigned heading and altitude. Make your stalls gentle, and recoveries crisp and sure. Be aware of your position.
  • Make every landing on the center line.
  • Don't be in a rush to do a maneuver. Do everything at your own pace.
  • Use smooth and accurate flying.
  • Remember the passenger briefing.
  • While taxiing position the ailerons for correct wind control.
  • Always perform the 'down-wind check'.
  • Perform clearing turns
  • Review the complete PTS with your instructor.
  • Use the checklist in the PTS so you don't forget to bring something.
  • Your flight instructor will make sure that your solo endorsement is still valid (90 days)
  • Take the knowledge test early in your flying career to insure that too much stress is not placed on you during the final stages of your preparation, which could deprive you of good study time in preparation for the practical test.




Flying Is...

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