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Use the PTS checklist, register on IACRA, and let's go!

By: David St. George, ATP, MCFI, DPE

David is currently a fairly busy boy! Running the flying club and "family time" leave little time for scheduling tests "in a hurry": e.g. "can you do a flight test tomorrow?" This "gotta go now" attitude makes any examiner wonder how organized and prepared an applicant is anyway. I usually leave Saturdays and Thursdays open as "flight-test days" but can also make room just about anywhere. I do encourage scheduling a week in advance and prefer the initial contact from the recommending instructor, rather than the applicant, to insure that the applicant is ready and the schedule is realistic. All examiners are now required to accept only the IACRA format. This requires you to log onto this government site (Internet Explorer only) and fill our the application here. Your instructor will need to log in also and "digitally sign" the application. I will need your "FTN" before the test can start to retrieve the application. Often the best contact is e-mail: email David or cell phone (607) 351-3637. I am always willing to answer questions regarding test structure or expectations but also recommend a careful reading of the PTS and Jeppesen's Practical Test Guide.

The first order of business when you sit down to take any FAA evaluation is "qualification." This is the determination that you, as an applicant for a particular certificate, have all the required hours and experience for the certificate you are seeking. As an examiner working for the FAA it's my job to verify all the details and check all your endorsements to assure you are qualified. This particular function of an evaluation can be endless if we need to hunt through logs and measure distances on a chart to verify the X-C requirements. My best advise here is to make a personal list from the appropriate FAR and enter the dates and airports you flew next to it so you are sure of your qualifications and can "prove" this easily. Click here for prepared forms for private, instrument and commercial. Please make sure your FAA 8710-1 is fully filled out and accurate. At least two candidates a year come up short in this phase of evaluation and have to go home disappointed. Incidentally, this is not a failure, the test never got started! The FAA is very clear on this point. The evaluation does not begin until the applicant is "qualified" for the test through examination of records and the application is accepted by the DPE.

The absolute best example of poor preparation was a couple of years ago when a fellow showed up for a private pilot evaluation on a day with a 1500 ft ceiling and four miles visibility. I was surprised he even flew in with that kind of weather but we got down to work after some discussion (we can often get the oral done even if the weather prevents flying till another day.) But as we looked through his paperwork, not only was he unqualified on paper with only 4.1 hours of solo X-C and 2 hours of night, but he didn't have a photo ID or even a wallet to show who he was! The 8710-1 form looked like a ransom note, torn in places and crossed out. Clearly, this applicant was not even qualified to fly solo into Ithaca without ID (or any endorsement for the trip as it turned out) much less attempt a test in marginal VFR. This is also a case where I called the CFI to see just what planet he was on sending a student with such inadequate preparation. To contact me: David's e-mail or call me at East Hill (607) 257-1313.