Preparing for the checkride
If somebody had told me back in school that being a pilot meant you constantly have to study and take tests, I might have chosen a different profession. I was ready to leave school behind and tackle working for a living. Little did I know, the schooling never stopped and so did the testing. The real world of aviation even stepped it up a notch. On many occasions, taking these checkrides meant getting, or keeping a job. Looking back at it, being in High School wasn’t so bad after all.
Think about it, being a charter guy, Chuck has to take a minimum of four FAA Part 135 checkrides a year. Roost-Air owns three different makes and models of fixed wing aircraft and one helicopter. That’s no small feat. You would think Chuck would be a little better at it by now, huh?!
I used to work for a Part 135 operator for whom I flew enough different makes and models to necessitate four different checkrides per year, and one year it was five even. That is not counting the government checkrides I needed on occasion for firefighting and offshore flying. I practically had one every month. I think I could have passed the bar exam I went over so many regulations every week. Now that I am down to only one aircraft model, I feel less current on the regulation books. And I feel more nervous again doing these checkrides because it is less of a routine now. But the bright side is I feel way more current in the aircraft since I don’t switch around anymore. There is always a trade-off.
And between us, we don’t want Chuck to be too comfortable or current in any aircraft since we might not have as much material that way…
I’m not quite sure if it is a good thing or a bad thing that private pilots don’t need to take another exam in their lifetime (except the medical), if they are content with VFR in light singles-engien airplanes.
Sure, there’s the Flight Review, but that’s just with an instructor, and you can’t really “fail” it. Worst case, the instructor schedules another lesson with you to bring you up to safe standards in the places where he found your skills lacking, before signing you off so you can get the next 2-year extension for your class rating.
Good point, Bernd. Not all these FAA currency checkrides are exactly “pass or fail and lose your job” either but they are way more intense than a biennial flight review. Also, I have found that most commercial pilots come with the sense of professional pride of knowing everything. As compared to some flight reviews I have given where the guy expects you to teach him everything he forgot and didn’t bother to read up on again and that in under 2 hours…
Flying an ultralight under Belgian regulations (you did know ultralights are sub-EASA, didn’t you? 🙂 ) I am not due for any check-ride at all, if only I fly sufficiently (50 hours per 24 months). In France, even less worries. Yet neither country seems to see higher rates of accidents or fatalities. What’s the fuss?
Checkride anxiety is a real pain. I’ve seen more checkrides lost in the head than from actual skill based deficiencies. The worst was one who couldn’t see the airport for the hangers. Once the applicant decides they have failed they turn it into a self fulfilling prophecy.