Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Ups and Downs

Pilot Proficiency Check. Flight test time. The examiner is a check pilot from another company. The ride is scheduled for Friday. I make sure all the right exams have been written and recurrent training signed off.  The examiner calls on Thursday. "Let's do it today. The weather will be better than tomorrow." Why stress for another day when I don't have to?

The examiner doesn't enjoy sitting in an airplane watching people stress out. He just wants this over. After one turn in the hold my inbound leg is too short and I never really intercepted the inbound track completely. That's not abnormal for the first time around on a parallel entry. He asks me how I will correct for the wind, and when I tell him how long I will fly outbound for and on what heading, to try to make the next inbound a neat one minute line along the appropriate radial, he is satisfied and calls for the NDB approach.

I tell him I will fly two minutes outbound from the beacon before turning inbound, but he gets bored watching the scenery go by and tells me to turn in early. This puts me high on the approach. I know that is the main hazard of this step down approach, not being able to make the step down altitudes. It's why I chose the two minute outbound. Now I'm fighting to get down and not overspeed my flaps and gear. I don't make the MDA by the missed approach point. I'm too high to land. It wasn't a trick on his part, he was just impatient. He sees what he did, and says he won't fail me. Still I should have refused the early turn. I know my airplane. I'll take the low score there.

When I get the ride report back I grimace again that it's only good for a year. An instrument rating only has to be renewed every two years, and not too long ago PPCs were good for the same length of time, but they've now shortened it to one year. The first time that happened I called the examiner up to tell him he's made an error on the paperwork. But there's a good thing, too. He didn't even give me a 2, the lowest passing grade on that approach. It's a three, the "minor errors" rating. I don't know if he forgot, or felt badly for asking me to turn early. At any rate I'm licensed to commit aviation in this aircraft for another year.


Anonymous said...

I agree, sort of. IMO, yo should have refused (politely declined?) the early turn and continued to fly your plan. The impatience sucks; Is the fellow in the seat for a rubber stamp, or to truly examine your skills? Company politics, pilot politics or what? Sorry, but line checks should be as objective as possible and no dings because the examiner was in a hurry. Does that procedure really accomplish the intended purpose? I've been reading long enough to know that you are not a Rubber Stamp pilot, so why become one for your check ride? Full shame on him and half-shame on you. Is one more safe circuit not worth that twit's time? -C.

Majroj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said...

Fair enough, on both sides. Cool story. So you had the approach loaded on the GPS? Or could you just tell from the twitchyness your were going to miss...
An pure NDB approach for a PPC is tough in either case. Maybe not in Canada.

Aviatrix said...

This is from before my company had the op spec for GPS approaches, just a pure raw data NDB approach. That's how we did it back when I learned to fly (and we liked it--at least I did). So no VNAV guidance. I knew I would have to have a high rate of descent to make the MDA. You can't start the final descent until you are within five degrees of track, so if you aren't bang on when you make that inbound turn you waste time proving the inbound track and then you're fighting to get down without exceeding the speed tolerance or the flap limitations.

It's not a line check. It's the furthest thing from a line check that it could be. I'm tested on a procedure and a way of flying the airplane that is totally different than what I do every day. It's an utterly artificial situation. Get the rubber stamp and go back to work.

Unknown said...

"It's an utterly artificial situation. Get the rubber stamp and go back to work."

Agreed. Canadian checkrides are a bit better than they used to be but not a true evaluation of how you fly from day to day. Not even close.