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Practical Test Standards: Flight Instructor

Use of the Practical Test Standards Book

All of the procedures and maneuvers in the Private Pilot and Commercial Pilot Practical Test Standards have been included in the Flight Instructor Practical Test Standards. However, the flight instructor PTS allows the examiner to select one or more Tasks in each Area of Operation, therefore allowing the practical test for initial certification to be completed within a reasonable time frame. In certain Areas of Operation, there are required Tasks, which the examiner must select. These required Tasks are identified by Notes immediately following the Area of Operation titles.

The term "instructional knowledge" means the instructor applicant is capable of using the appropriate reference to provide the Ņapplication or correlative level of knowledge" of a subject matter topic, procedure, or maneuver. It also means that the flight instructor applicant's discussions, explanations, and descriptions should follow the recommended teaching procedures and techniques explained in FAA-H-8083-9, Aviation Instructor's Handbook.

The examiner is not required to follow the precise order in which the Areas of Operation and Tasks appear in this book. The examiner may change the sequence or combine Tasks with similar objectives to have an orderly and efficient flow of the practical test.

Special Emphasis Areas

Examiners must place special emphasis upon areas of aircraft operation considered critical to flight safety. Among these are:

  1. Positive aircraft control
  2. Positive exchange of the flight controls procedure
  3. Stall/spin awareness
  4. Collision avoidance
  5. Wake turbulence avoidance
  6. LAHSO
  7. Runway incursion avoidance
  8. CFIT
  9. ADM and risk management
  10. Wire strike avoidance
  11. Checklist usage
  12. Temporary flight restrictions (TFRs)
  13. Special use airspace (SUA)
  14. Aviation security
  15. Single-Pilot Resource Management (SRM)
  16. Other areas deemed appropriate to any phase of the practical test

With the exception of SRM and the runway incursion avoidance, a given special emphasis area may not be specifically addressed under a given Task. All areas are essential to flight safety and will be evaluated during the practical test.

Flight Instructor Responsibility

An appropriately rated flight instructor is responsible for training the flight instructor applicant to acceptable standards in all subject matter areas, procedures, and maneuvers included in the Tasks within each Area of Operation in the appropriate flight instructor practical test standard.

Because of the impact of their teaching activities in developing safe, proficient pilots, flight instructors should exhibit a high level of knowledge, skill, and the ability to impart that knowledge and skill to students. The flight instructor must certify that the applicant is:

  1. Able to make a practical application of the fundamentals of instructing; 11 FAA-S-8081-6D
  2. Competent to teach the subject matter, procedures, and maneuvers included in the standards to students with varying backgrounds and levels of experience and ability;
  3. Able to perform the procedures and maneuvers included in the standards to at least the Commercial Pilot skill level while giving effective flight instruction; and
  4. Competent to pass the required practical test for the issuance of the flight instructor certificate with the associated category and class ratings or the addition of a category and/or class rating to a flight instructor certificate.

Examiner Responsibility

The examiner conducting the practical test is responsible for determining that the applicant meets acceptable standards of teaching ability, knowledge, and skill in the selected Tasks. The examiner makes this determination by accomplishing an Objective that is appropriate to each selected Task, and includes an evaluation of the applicant's:

  1. Ability to apply the fundamentals of instructing;
  2. Knowledge of, and ability to teach, the subject matter, procedures, and maneuvers covered in the Tasks;
  3. Ability to perform the procedures and maneuvers included in the standards to the Commercial Pilot skill level while giving effective flight instruction; and
  4. Ability to analyze and correct common errors related to the procedures and maneuvers covered in the Tasks.

It is intended that oral questioning be used at any time during the ground or flight portion of the practical test to determine that the applicant can instruct effectively and has a comprehensive knowledge of the Tasks and their related safety factors.

During the flight portion of the practical test, the examiner acts as a student during selected maneuvers. This gives the examiner an opportunity to evaluate the flight instructor applicant's ability to analyze and correct simulated common errors related to these maneuvers. The examiner must place special emphasis on the applicant's use of visual scanning and collision avoidance procedures, and the applicant's ability to teach those procedures.

Examiners should go to the greatest extent possible to test the applicant's application and correlation skills. When possible, scenario-based questions should be used during the practical test. The examiner will evaluate the applicant's ability to teach visual scanning, runway incursion avoidance, collision avoidance procedures, and Land and Hold Short Operations (LAHSO).

If the examiner determines that a Task is incomplete or the outcome uncertain, the examiner may require the applicant to repeat the entire Task or portions of the Task. This provision has been made in the interest of fairness and does not mean that instruction, practice, or the repeating of an unsatisfactory Task is permitted during the certification process. When practical, the remaining Tasks of the practical test phase should be completed before repeating the questionable Task.

On multiengine practical tests, where the failure of the most critical engine after lift off is required, the instructor applicant and examiner must give consideration to local atmospheric conditions, terrain and type of aircraft used. However, the failure of an engine shall not be simulated until attaining at least VSSE/VYSE and at an altitude not lower than 400 feet AGL.

During simulated engine failures on multiengine practical tests, after simulated feathering of the propeller, the engine shall be set to zero thrust. The examiner shall require the instructor applicant to simultaneously demonstrate and explain procedures for landing with a simulated feathered propeller with the engine set to zero thrust. The examiner must not simulate any conditions that may jeopardize safe flight or result in possible damage to the aircraft.

Satisfactory Performance

The practical test is passed if, in the judgment of the examiner, the applicant demonstrates satisfactory performance with regard to:

  1. Knowledge of the fundamentals of instructing;
  2. Knowledge of the technical subject areas;
  3. Knowledge of the flight instructor's responsibilities concerning the pilot certification process;
  4. Knowledge of the flight instructor's responsibilities concerning logbook entries and pilot certificate endorsements;
  5. Knowledge of the flight instructor's responsibilities conveying to the applicant runway incursion mitigation techniques and procedures.
  6. Ability to demonstrate the procedures and maneuvers selected by the examiner to at least the Commercial Pilot skill level while giving effective instruction;
  7. Competence in teaching the procedures and maneuvers selected by the examiner;
  8. Competence in describing, recognizing, analyzing, and correcting common errors simulated by the examiner; and
  9. Knowledge of the development and effective use of a course of training, a syllabus, and a lesson plan.

Unsatisfactory Performance

If, in the judgment of the examiner, the applicant does not meet the standards of performance on any of the Tasks performed, the applicable Area of Operation is considered unsatisfactory and therefore, the practical test is failed. The examiner or applicant may discontinue the test at any time when the failure of an Area of Operation makes the applicant ineligible for the certificate or rating sought. The test is continued only with the consent of the applicant. If the test is discontinued, the applicant is entitled credit for only those Areas of Operation and their associated Tasks satisfactorily performed; however, during the retest and at the discretion of the examiner, any Task may be reevaluated, including those previously considered satisfactory. Specific reasons for disqualification are:

  1. Failure to perform a procedure or maneuver to the Commercial Pilot skill level while giving effective flight instruction;
  2. Failure to provide an effective instructional explanation while demonstrating a procedure or maneuver (explanation during the demonstration must be clear, concise, technically accurate, and complete with no prompting from the examiner);
  3. Any action or lack of action by the applicant which requires corrective intervention by the examiner to maintain safe flight;
  4. Failure to use proper and effective visual scanning techniques to clear the area before and while performing maneuvers.

When a Disapproval Notice is issued, the examiner must record the applicant's unsatisfactory performance in terms of Areas of Operation and specific Tasks not meeting the standard appropriate to the practical test conducted. If the applicant fails the practical test because of a special emphasis area, the Notice of Disapproval must indicate the associated Task. An example would be: "Area of Operation IX: Maneuvering during Slow Flight, failure to teach proper collision avoidance procedures."

Aeronautical Decision Making and Risk Management

Throughout the practical test, the examiner will evaluate the applicant's ability to use good aeronautical decision making procedures in order to identify risks. The examiner will accomplish this requirement by developing scenarios that incorporate as many Tasks as possible to evaluate the applicants risk management in making safe aeronautical decisions. For example, the examiner may develop a scenario that incorporates weather decisions and performance planning, and distractions that may result in a loss of runway/taxiway situational awareness (e.g. ATC communications congestion, accomplishing checklist procedures, talking with passengers, cell phone/texting during taxiing, etc).

The applicant's ability to utilize all the assets available in making a risk analysis to determine the safest course of action is essential for satisfactory performance. The scenarios should be realistic and within the capabilities of the aircraft used for the practical test.

Single-Pilot Resource Management

Single-Pilot Resource Management refers to the effective use of all available resources: human resources, hardware, and information. It is similar to Crew Resource Management (CRM) procedures that are being emphasized in multi-crewmember operations except that only one crewmember (the pilot) is involved. Human resources "...includes all other groups routinely working with the pilot who are involved in decisions that are required to operate a flight safely. These groups include, but are not limited to dispatchers, weather briefers, maintenance personnel, and air traffic controllers." Pilot Resource Management is not a single Task; it is a set of skill competencies that must be evident in all Tasks in this practical test standard as applied to single-pilot operation.

Applicant's Use of Checklists

Throughout the practical test, the instructor applicant is evaluated on the use and teaching of an appropriate checklist. Proper use is dependent on the specific Task being evaluated. The situation may be such that the use of the checklist, while accomplishing elements of an Objective, would be either unsafe or impractical, especially in a single-pilot operation. In this case, a review of the checklist after the elements have been accomplished would be appropriate.

Use of Distractions during Practical Tests

Numerous studies indicate that many accidents and runway incursions have occurred when the pilot has been distracted during taxi operations and critical phases of flight. To evaluate the applicant's ability to utilize proper control technique while dividing attention both inside and outside the cockpit, the examiner must cause realistic distractions during ground operations and use the flight portion of the practical test to evaluate the applicant's ability to divide attention while maintaining safe operation while on the ground and in flight.

Positive Exchange of Flight Controls

During flight training, there must always be a clear understanding between students and flight instructors of who has control of the aircraft. Prior to flight, a briefing should be conducted that includes the procedure for the exchange of flight controls. A positive three- step process in the exchange of flight controls between pilots is a proven procedure and one that is strongly recommended.

When the instructor wishes the student to take control of the aircraft, he or she will say, "You have the flight controls." The student will acknowledge immediately by saying, "I have the flight controls." The flight instructor will again say, "You have the flight controls." When control is returned to the instructor, the same procedure will be followed. A visual check is recommended to verify that the exchange has occurred. There should never be any doubt as to who is flying the aircraft. The instructor applicant is expected to teach proper positive exchange of flight controls during the practical test.




Flight Instructor Test Questions


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Oral Exam Questions

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Robert Wederquist   CP-ASEL - AGI - IGI
Commercial Pilot • Instrument Pilot
Advanced Ground Instructor • Instrument Ground Instructor

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