The Checkride


  • Your checkride is arguably one of the most stressful experiences throughout flight training
  • The Practical Test Standards provide you with the FAA's expectations

Flight Instructor Responsibilities:

  • An appropriately rated flight instructor is responsible for training the applicant to acceptable standards in ALL subject matter areas, procedures, and maneuvers included in the Tasks within each Area of Operation in the appropriate practical test standard, even if the applicant is adding a category or class rating
  • Because of the impact of their teaching activities in developing safe, proficient pilots, flight instructors should exhibit a high level of knowledge, skill, and the ability to impart that knowledge and skill to students
  • Throughout the applicant’s training, the flight instructor is responsible for emphasizing the performance of effective visual scanning, collision avoidance procedures, the manufacturer’s recommended procedures for the airplane flown, and other areas deemed appropriate to the practical test

Examiner Responsibility:

  • The examiner conducting the practical test is responsible for determining that the applicant meets the acceptable standards of knowledge and skill of each Task within the appropriate practical test standard
  • Since there is no formal division between the "oral" and "skill" portions of the practical test, this becomes an ongoing process throughout the test
  • Oral questioning, to determine the applicant's knowledge of Tasks and related safety factors, should be used judiciously at all times, especially during the flight portion of the practical test
  • Examiners shall test to the greatest extent practicable the applicant’s correlative abilities rather than mere rote enumeration of facts throughout the practical test
  • If the examiner determines that a Task is incomplete, or the outcome uncertain, the examiner may require the applicant to repeat that Task, or portions of that Task
  • This provision has been made in the interest of fairness and does not mean that instruction, practice, or the repeating of an unsatisfactory task is permitted during the certification process
  • When practical, the remaining Tasks of the practical test phase should be completed before repeating the questionable Task
  • On multiengine practical tests, where the failure of the most critical engine after liftoff is required, the examiner must give consideration to local atmospheric conditions, terrain, and type of aircraft used
  • However, the failure of an engine shall not be simulated until attaining at least VSSE/VXSE/VYSE and at an altitude not lower than 400 feet AGL
  • During simulated engine failures on multiengine practical tests, the examiner shall set zero thrust after the applicant has simulated feathering the propeller
  • The examiner shall require the applicant to demonstrate at least one landing with a simulated-feathered propeller with the engine set to zero thrust
  • The feathering of one propeller shall be demonstrated in flight, unless the manufacturer prohibits the intentional feathering of the propellers during flight
  • Throughout the flight portion of the practical test, the examiner shall evaluate the applicant’s use of visual scanning and collision avoidance procedures

Satisfactory Performance:

  • Satisfactory performance to meet the requirements for certification is based on the applicant’s ability to safely:
    • Perform the Tasks specified in the Areas of Operation for the certificate or rating sought within the approved standards;
    • Demonstrate mastery of the aircraft by performing each Task successfully;
    • Demonstrate satisfactory proficiency and competency within the approved standards;
    • Demonstrate sound judgment and exercises aeronautical decision-making/risk management; and
    • Demonstrate single-pilot competence if the aircraft is type certificated for single-pilot operations

Temporary Airmen Certificate
Figure 1: Temporary Airmen Certificate

Unsatisfactory Performance:

  • The tolerances represent the performance expected in good flying conditions
  • If, in the judgment of the examiner, the applicant does not meet the standards of performance of any Task performed, the associated Area of Operation is failed and therefore, the practical test is failed
  • The examiner or applicant may discontinue the test at any time when the failure of an Area of Operation makes the applicant ineligible for the certificate or rating sought
  • The test may be continued ONLY with the consent of the applicant
  • If the test is discontinued, the applicant is entitled credit for only those Areas of Operation and their associated Tasks satisfactorily performed however, during the retest, and at the discretion of the examiner, any Task may be reevaluated, including those previously passed
  • Typical areas of unsatisfactory performance and grounds for disqualification are:
    • Any action or lack of action by the applicant that 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
  • When a notice of disapproval is issued, the examiner shall record the applicant’s unsatisfactory performance in terms of the Area of Operation and specific Task(s) not meeting the standard appropriate to the practical test conducted
  • The Area(s) of Operation/Task(s) not tested and the number of practical test failures shall also be recorded
  • If the applicant fails the practical test because of a special emphasis area, the Notice of Disapproval shall indicate the associated Task (i. e., Area of Operation VIII, Maneuvering During Slow Flight, failure to use proper collision avoidance procedures)

Notice of Disapproval
Figure 1: Notice of Disapproval

Letter of Discontinuance:

  • When a practical test is discontinued for reasons other than unsatisfactory performance (i.e., equipment failure, weather, illness), the FAA Form 8710-1, Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application, and, if applicable, the Airman Knowledge Test Report, is returned to the applicant
  • The examiner then must prepare, sign, and issue a Letter of Discontinuance to the applicant
  • The Letter of Discontinuance must identify the Areas of Operation and their associated Tasks of the practical test that were successfully completed
  • The applicant must be advised that the Letter of Discontinuance must be presented to the examiner, to receive credit for the items successfully completed, when the practical test is resumed, and made part of the certification file