Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pop Quiz Indeed

My boss, or perhaps I should say my customer, seeing as I am a contractor, announces what is phrased to me as "good news and very bad news." It's further broken down as good news for the company and very bad news for me. I've had very bad news just too many times in my career to break down into tears at this point. And this is a temporary job. I'm guessing off the top of my head that the company has been bought out and they don't need me any more. Or perhaps there's some air regulation I didn't know that requires me to be shot at dawn for having requested the wrong departure from clearance delivery. I really don't remember that from the CARs. A pilot has to keep up on these things! I'm braced.

The good news is that the company has received approval to do IFR work. IFR photo survey might sound like bad news for anyone involved, but this doesn't mean we'll be taking pictures of the insides of clouds, it's for an airspace technicality, like needing CVFR flight over 12,500'. The airspace 18,000' and above is designated as Class A (which the Americans pronounce "alpha" but the Canadians pronounce "eh") and it is open to IFR traffic only. So in order to fly above 18,000' we need to have an IFR operating certificate.

Why might this bad news for me? Although my IFR rating is current, renewed less than ten months ago, I need to do an IFR flight test on this aircraft type. As soon as possible. Normally it's difficult to get an expedited ride (flight tests are called "rides," I guess because the Americans call them checkrides and the shortened form came north), but Vancouver has a regional Transport Canada office, so TC agreed to do the ride themselves, with the stipulation that it is a monitored ride. Not monitored as in "this call will be monitored to ensure customer satisfaction" but monitored in that there will be one person evaluating me and another person in the airplane evaluating his or her ability to evaluate me. But from any pilot's point of view it means there will be two Transport Canada inspectors sitting in the airplane taking careful notes on the way I screw up. Joy.

I tell the bearer of these tidings that having my skills evaluated is a normal part of my job and that really the second Transport person in the airplane is there to evaluate the first one, so it spreads out the pressure rather than intensifying it. Where ever did I learn such sang froid? I think it's like handling an emergency in the airplane: it's such short notice that there isn't time to get all angsty. I just have to do it. I can fly this airplane. I can fly IFR. I should be able to fly this one IFR. I ask for the opportunity to do a practice flight with a safety pilot, during which I can practice stalls and engine failure drills. I don't know how this airplane responds with a failed engine, or what power setting will hold an ILS glideslope in zero wind, and I don't know what tricks the local controllers might have for me. The employer agrees to that, and even suggests a local Vancouver pilot who knows the airplane and the area.

And then I go and take pictures.


Anonymous said...

Well apart from the "JOY" of learning, you will have the opportunity of getting even more experience.
Love your blog, thanks for it.

5400AirportRdSouth said...

I got offered a Monitored flight test for my CPL. The Examiner was upgrading and offered to waive her fee if I agreed to have TC along for the test as well. I had nowhere near your level of confidence at the time and politely declined.

All in all, not-so-very-bad-news after all!

DataPilot said...

I hope I'm not raining on your parade too much, but it sure sounds like you're an employee, not a contractor. Your "customer"/boss is providing you with the tools of your trade (the plane), determines where, when and with whom you have to fly, and now tells you that you need to pass a check ride in order to continue working for him. Here in the US, you'd almost certainly be considered his employee, due to the amount of control he exerts over your work environment. The fact that you've signed a contract with him would not change your status. Canadian law appears to be very similar regarding this topic.

So please be careful that you don't run afoul of your tax laws - or worse, find yourself in financial hot water if you a mistake and your employer's insurance doesn't cover you. You may be able to head off potential trouble by simply asking your employer to reclassify you as a temporary employee.

Where ever did I learn such sang froid?

Don't you love how piloting aircraft teaches you to maintain a level head when you know you should be panicking? That's a handy skill, and you'll take with you through the rest of your life.

Best wishes with your check ride. I'm sure it will go fine.

Aviatrix said...

DataPilot: My actual name, not just "approved pilots" is written on the insurance document, so I know I'm on the insurance. I've been a contractor for a while, actually, and have just gone through this with the Canadian tax agency. I have a GST number and everything. There's an exception for pilots from the normal "how to tell if you're a contractor" rules because of the nature of our work, and I may yet blog on the fun of doing my GST tax return.

"Which province did you do the work in?"

"I was staying in a hotel in BC and spent the day flying back and forth between Alberta, BC, and the NWT. Oh also I have a picture that day taken on the YT/BC/NT border. Then at the end of the day I flew to Saskatchewan."

"What province were you based in?"

"You mean where I lived, where I spent most nights, where the owner of the company lives, the mailing address of the company, the customer's company or the aircraft owner's company?"

"Where did you send your invoices?"

"By e-mail."

5400AirportRdSouth: I think you were lucky. I'm not sure most people are offered a choice.

Ed said...

"Boss", "customer"? How about "client"?

Anonymous said...

The fact that 'trix needs to do a check-ride is, by the sound of it, a legal requirement (maybe an insurance requirement) to be allowed to fly this *specific* plane IFR. So that would apply if she was 100% self-employed, ran her own company and was contracting to this customer, or was directly employed.

I'm guessing this is probably no different from needing to do a special extra driving test to be allowed (and insured) to drive a Tramcar.

A self-employed truck-driver could easily agree to work a few weeks (still self-employed) driving the client's own trucks.

And if the job is to "drive the truck to A, fill up with stuff, and drive to B", I can't see that is the client imposing conditions, surely it's just "doing the job".

paul b

Sarah said...

DataPilot absolutely nailed it: Don't you love how piloting aircraft teaches you to maintain a level head when you know you should be panicking?

I'm not there yet; when I learned initial instructor ratings required a ride with the FAA instead of my friendly local DPE ( designee) my enthusiasm cooled quite a bit.

No doubt Aviatrix will do fine. I made the mistake of complaining to a pro once about how I hate checkrides and he just smiled and said he takes a similar ride every year in the sim. Just part of the job.

Aviatrix said...

The flight test is a Transport Canada requirement to fulfill the conditions of the operating certificate for revenue-generating IFR flights. Yeah, it's exactly like taking an air brake test, or perhaps like taking a jurisdictional test in a profession, such as if you were a contracting engineer and had to sign drawings under the authority of another province.

Frank Lee MeiDere said...

Now you've got me worried. Who is evaluating the person evaluating the evaluator?! What if the person evaluating the evaluator is a lousy evaluator evaluator? The ability to evaluate a person's performance, and the ability to evaluate a person evaluating a person's performance are entirely different skill sets. I just don't see how they can allow an evaluator evaluator to not have an evaluator.

Of course, the ability to evaluate an evaluator evaluator is, itself, a different skill set, so it seems like there should be an evaluator to evaluate the evaluator evaluator evaluator.

Evaluator. Fun word.

D.B. said...

Just went through this myself for the initial CFI check-ride. I thought I was seeing double when 2 FAA examiners showed up. A fortuitous fault in the intercom meant that only the one next to me could communicate in flight, which made it somewhat easier. And they still passed me.

Sarah said...

Congratulations, DB!

Verification word: "multi"
There's always something else to do...

Sarah said...

Incidentally, we call class A "alpha"?

I've never heard that. Class B is always called "bravo" by us and ATC, but I'm with you Canadians on class A, eh?

Cedarglen said...

Thanks for another great post. So help me, I'm not seeing any 'bad' new here at all! You're flying, the client is pleased and you have another opportunity to deminstrate your skills with the monitored IRF check ride. They OK's the practice run with a safety pilot (as they should) and you know what those fully little gadgets do. You KNOW what you are doing, so just fly the airplane according to the briefed flight plan. It is nothing more than another opportunity to demonstrate the existing skills. Have a good ride! -C.

Cedarglen said...

Pls forgive the typos. It is early. -C.

cockney steve said...

Just to recycle an old joke, you'll actually have three bods from TC.... One who can read, one who can write.....

and one to keep an eye on the two intellectuals. :-)

Sorry, couldn't resist....and congrats on getting another license endorsement as a freebie. (We know you passed with flying colours, so to speak.)