Things YOU Can do To Make the Checkride Smoother for Your DPE (and you)

Practical Test (checkride) day is stressful enough. Any number of things can make it easier or make you more prepared, but as you do get ready, there are a few things many FAA Designated Pilot Examiners (DPEs) have noticed that applicants and their instructors could do to make the day easier for your DPE and as a result, you!

Here are a few that are worth sharing to help you get a jump on the day and make it easier.

Clearly Identify All Required Flight Time Experience.

Scrounging through an applicant’s logbook for those missing couple of hours of cross country flight time, trying to see if particular cross country flights meet requirements for a particular rating or certificate, or making sense of how much time an applicant has logged in simulated or actual instrument time can be challenging. In reality, it is up to the applicant and the CFI to make sure that they are sending a “qualified” applicant to the DPE. The DPE must ensure the applicant meets the required aeronautical experience for a particular rating or certificate as the FARs dictate. If a DPE is unable to clearly identify that an applicant meets those requirements, they won’t proceed. I know personally, I have likely sent applicants home without starting a practical test who may have actually been qualified but due to having a disorganized logbook were unable to demonstrate that they met all the requirements. If it helps, create a separate log of the specific experience requirements for the rating or certificate you will be testing. Don’t just hope the examiner can find what you did and that it will meet the requirements, show up ready and able to show exactly why and how you have met all those requirements to ensure you will be moving forward to the actual test on checkride day.

Have Aircraft Maintenance Logbooks Available (and Be Familiar with Them)

Too many times an applicant for a checkride is left fumbling in front of the DPE to find the “required inspections” that they must demonstrate to the examiner to make sure the aircraft is legal for flight on the day of the practical test. Get ahead of this by checking those aircraft logbooks out multiple times, many days ahead of the checkride. It will enhance your skill at identifying the required inspections, find any potential problems ahead of the scheduled checkride, and allow you to proceed through that portion of a checkride much faster. Getting part of a checkride done faster and correctly can’t be a bad thing, right?

Submit Your IACRA Application Early, and Let the DPE Know

The application paperwork you do before the checkride is just part of the FAA documentation process of a checkride. DPEs have paperwork on their end also, and if they have the ability to review the 8710 application that you submit and your instructor signs ahead of time, they can do their paperwork easier. Get that paperwork in and signed by your instructor as soon as you are ready, send your DPE your FTN number, and let them know your application is ready for review.

Send Your DPE Your Endorsements for Review

MANY times DPEs get to practical test to find missing areas of endorsements from a CFI that are needed to proceed with a checkride. The scramble to find an instructor, get copies, or get the required endorsements that are missing adds stress, lengthens the “qualification” phase of a checkride, and many times results in a need to reschedule. It’s frustrating for all parties involved. I, and many DPEs I know, have no problem with an applicant emailing or even texting pictures of the endorsements they have for an upcoming checkride to see if anything is missing. It’s easier to ask and fix it ahead of the test and most DPEs will appreciate the extra effort you are taking to make sure when the schedule checkride time arrives that it will be able to proceed without paperwork hiccups.

For many reading this, these things may seem simple and logical. But, all too often they end up hiccups that hold up checkrides. Take the time to get yourself and your paperwork ready, it will make the DPEs job on your checkride day easier, and in the end, your actual checkride more likely to proceed and less stressful.

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About Jason Blair

Jason Blair is an active single and multiengine instructor and an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner with over 6,000 hours total time, over 3,000 hours of instruction given, and more than 3000 hours in aircraft as a DPE. In his role as Examiner, over 2,000 pilot certificates have been issued. He has worked for and continues to work with multiple aviation associations with the work focusing on pilot training and testing. His experience as a pilot and instructor spans nearly 20 years and includes over 100 makes and models of aircraft flown. Jason Blair has published works in many aviation publications with a focus on training and safety.


Things YOU Can do To Make the Checkride Smoother for Your DPE (and you) — 2 Comments

  1. Hi Jason

    I listened to the Aviation News Podcast for the IFR Mock Checkride… I have a private pilot license and have been flying since 2003. I recently updated my panel on my Piper Warrior with a GNX 375, 2- G5s, and the GFC 500 autopilot. Since I spent the money on the IFR panel, I have decided to try to get the instrument ticket. When picking an instructor in the Atlanta area, can you pick someone that is a DPE and a CFII. Is that a bad idea? Can the same person that is instructing you also do the practical instrument test?

    • Great questions Scott!

      The FAA typically does not allow a DPE to give tests to a student whom they have trained. It will typically require that the endorsing instructor for the practical test be someone other than the DPE who will giving the practical test.

      It is a great idea to make sure that a DPE is familiar with equipment (avionics) in the aircraft you will be using for the practical test. Nearly all DPEs will be CFI-I certificated already, a DPE must be a current CFI to remain a DPE, and most will be CFI-Is. If they were not, they would not be authorized the give instrument practical tests.

      Hope that helps!