Is the private pilot checkride harder today than it used to be?

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by 2nd505th, Feb 6, 2021.

  1. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
    Messages:
    10,974
    Location:
    New England
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    PaulS
    NDB are pretty much gone from the test, but I got my instrument 2 years ago and every thing else you listed I did in training and was fair game for the check ride, except the rnav stuff. You not only need to know that stuff, but if you are in a TAA you are expected to use the modern stuff too including the autopilot.
     
  2. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2005
    Messages:
    8,894
    Location:
    Wichita, KS
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    MauleSkinner
    I learned the GPS stuff in spite of the official training I got. The 135 instructor showed PowerPoint slides and read verbatim what was on the slide. To be honest, I probably learned as much about it here as anyplace else...at least it gave me a jumping off point for digging into other documentation.
     
  3. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2011
    Messages:
    3,327
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    mondtster
    It’s just the way it got presented. The goal was to try and clear up some of the “unwritten” expectations but I think they made parsing the expectations harder! To me, the old PTS was much easier to read through and understand once you figured out what the FAA was trying to communicate.

    I was actively instructing both before and after the ACS went into effect. It didn’t change how the checkrides were administered by the DPEs I know and was working with but I suspect that it changed the way some examiners had to operate.


    As far as how easy or hard the private checkride is now vs. then, I don’t recall it changing much at all from when I got my private until now. But there haven’t been significant changes in airplanes, airspace, or regulations in that amount of time either. The answer may be quite a bit different for those that went through training in the ‘80s or before vs now.
     
  4. elvisAteMySandwich

    elvisAteMySandwich Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2020
    Messages:
    30
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    elvisAteMySandwich
    How has airspace and air traffic changed and does it affect flight training/checkride difficulty?

    I did some training 25 years ago at LUK and CVG's airspace was smaller back then -- very easy to avoid. I also don't remember seeing much (if any) traffic when we did our training flights. Looking at a modern sectional, LUK is now under CVG's class Bravo shelf. I'm no longer in that area but a similar sized airport in MD is very busy in comparison when I'm doing flight training now. The traffic pattern always has 2-3 planes in it. The practice area always has some traffic and the local untowered fields seem even busier. So in some ways, flight training feels more difficult now than back then.
     
  5. geezer

    geezer Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2019
    Messages:
    332
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Kruse'n
    kgruber took his check ride about the time I took mine.

    There was a new requirement the year I took it, with mandatory hood training for the PPL.

    In 1969 two of us took the check ride with the same DPE, and had used the same instructor. He took almost twice the hours to get signed off as I did, implying that I was a better student.

    He went first, the check ride was 2 hours in the air, and he failed.

    I went next, I had certain advantages that did possibly bias the DPE, when I did the weight and balance, I did it with a calculator, not the charts in the POH. He asked why, and my answer was that I was cargo loading officer for an air mobile Army unit, and since we were at the weight limit of the plane, accuracy was important. I knew his weight, and had burned exactly enough gas coming to be at gross. I also had my graduation certificate for a Commercial Ground School class. He was also surprised how much hood time that I had in my log book, I explained that my instructor had done hood whenever it was convenient.

    Our flight was high stress, as heading changes were continuous, and altitude changes ended in the middle of heading changes. I nailed every end point, altitude or turn. VOR identify and intercept, then track was included in those altitude changes and turns. We did stalls under the hood, and on the power off stall, he kicked the rudder, and we spun. Recovery was under the hood. Steep turn 360 each side, with him clearing the area, hood again, and unusual attitude recovery, two different aircraft attitudes and conditions. Hood off, where is the airport, fly there and land, engine out.

    The check ride was 0.49 hours tach time, and I passed.

    The debrief in the office was relaxed, and he complimented my instructor for my skills. He had noted the grass strips in my log, both with and without my instructor, commented that if I had flown in and out of those particular runways solo, I had the skills needed to pass in a check ride.

    The other pilot went for his second check ride, it lasted 2 hours, but he did pass. I flew with him ONCE after he received his PPL, and never again. His skills were just barely adequate, and in adverse conditions, dangerous. Fortunately, finances took him out of the club, and he quit flying.

    Addressing the topic more directly, the check ride today must be quite different, as others have stated. Understanding the electronics and failure modes is a major area to be tested for, and there are more aspects of this that must be demonstrated. The testing of actual flying the plane has suffered as a result, but the over all check ride should be much harder to prepare for, and pass.

    Navigational situation awareness with all the equipment functioning should be far better today, and the entire flight can be programmed into the GPS on the ground, engine not yet started.I do not understand just how the DPE simulates the failures that we had in the '70's on check rides. The DPE simply reached over with a black rubber stick on, and that device was failed. On the ground, the quiz on system failures required you to tell him what else should be expected to become unusable if, for example a vacuum gyro went out. The equivalent failures would be hard to know for a variety of brands of electronic displays..
     
  6. SkyChaser

    SkyChaser Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2020
    Messages:
    387
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    SkyChaser
    From what I can tell, what got harder about a private pilot checkride is scheduling one.
     
    Jim K and JoshN like this.
  7. Oldmanb777

    Oldmanb777 Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2020
    Messages:
    198
    Location:
    Kolarado
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Oldmanb777
    They are all hard, until you pass, then looking back, it seems easy. Oh well. I have my Dad's log books. PPL was in 1938. The examiner passed him, but made a note in his log book that he didn't stop the spin on a cardinal heading and should work on that. I have the written part of his oral exam. Yes you may be required to right up a description on some aeronautical subject of the examiners choosing. His was 2 pages on Thunderstorm development.
    The FAA examiner on my FE oral ticket was the same guy who gave my Dad his L-188 type rating. I really liked him, my Dad didn't have the same perception. It can be subjective at best.
    The examiner noticed on my log book that I had flown IMC with CFII's. I spent most of my PPL check ride under the hood. Including a VOR approach. We did a few stalls and a sttep turn, but msot of it was more like an IFR ride. Afterward, my instructor questioned the examiner. He responded that he thought maybe I was young and stupid enough to push the weather. He wanted to make sure I could keep the greasy side down in the clouds, since I didn't seem to have any fear of being in clouds. Check rides are pretty subjective.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2021
    23103a likes this.
  8. Redline

    Redline Filing Flight Plan

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2020
    Messages:
    8
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Redline
    I don't think the standard for the flying part is any harder, but the DPEs seem to be way more extreme during the oral, requiring more knowledge on specific things than was required 30-40 years ago.
     
  9. Redline

    Redline Filing Flight Plan

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2020
    Messages:
    8
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Redline
    That part is definitely true. Some of my students have had to wait for many week to get on the schedule.
     
  10. RussR

    RussR Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    2,054
    Location:
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Russ
    While I'll agree that there will always be a subjective component to checkrides, the kind of checkride you describe in your post is exactly why ACS and PTS and whatever came before that were developed. An applicant should have some kind of idea of what he or she will be expected to do on a checkride, it should not just be a free-for-all for the examiner to do whatever pops into mind.

    At least now, it is pretty regimented - you will be doing steep turns and you know what is expected and what the standards are. You will be doing short-field landings, and again you know beforehand what the standards are. So a lot (but certainly not all) of the subjectivity has been eliminated.

    A examiner that expects a Private Pilot applicant to perform a VOR approach? Good on you for being able to do it, but that's way out of line, and today would result in me (as a CFI) calling the FSDO about that examiner.
     
    TCABM and Oldmanb777 like this.
  11. Oldmanb777

    Oldmanb777 Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2020
    Messages:
    198
    Location:
    Kolarado
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Oldmanb777
    I agree, I also realize the examiner NEEDS to know for sure you are competent and safe. Since I came from a flying family, I think he felt that making sure I wwasnt; going to do something stupid, was fair. at the time, i was really POed. In retrospect, I totally understand. He knew the hours logged in my book were only part of the exposure I had in flying.
    But yes, most would say it was totally out of line, however, I passed everything he threw at me. I think he felt he lots of leeway on the ride and he used it as far as he could. I always thought there might have been some jealousy involved as well, but who knows.
    I made up for it on the CFI ride. It was .3 of an hour. Different examiner.
     
  12. AeroLudite

    AeroLudite Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    May 25, 2020
    Messages:
    65
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    AeroLudite
    Since I got my ppl in 1978 a LOT has changed.

    I did my training with a University 141 program. Solo’d in 10hrs. Finished in 44.5hrs. There were 5- stage checks. The last was done by the chief instructor. When passed, it resulted in issuance of ticket. The only thing that drug it out was the requisite 3hrs of slow flight. I needed 1.9 to meet minimum 2 weeks before the end of term so it was done in two flights. 3,000’ in a misrigged Cherokee 140, at 65mph, stall light flickering, on a 100deg Alabama August afternoon (scheduling issues!). Not fun!
    I was NOT prepared to fly most places, ie: TCA’s, back then...

    The written was difficult. Only because it was taken from the faa publications. I never saw most until I started working on my instrument rating in early 90’s. We were required to purchase the Jeppeson/Sanderson Kit. Kershner and Gliem both found out that after the freedom of information act was passed and FAA had to release/publish the test questions data base, as much as 10% of the questions had a wrong answer as correct answer! Correct answer was wrong. I passed on first attempt. 50% failure was expected. I made a 78. After resuming flight training in ‘90’s, lowest I made on a written was a 94 on instrument written. It had 120 questions. Next week I took the CFII, made a 96, had 150questions.Later a 97 on Commercial (150 questions) and CFI 98, same test as Commercial. FOI made a 100. All because of the Gliem test preparation guides. (And a LOT of studying) The FOI was easiest as there were only 280 questions in database.

    Long X/C had to be 250mi for PPL.

    IT was a LOT cheaper too! My first quarter, it was $12/hr for VFR Cherokee 140, two seater (a dog!) and $4/hr for the work-study student instructor. Last term, $16/hr for nicer IFR equipped 4 seater and $5.25hr for instructor. N5AU, still flying!!!
     
  13. danhagan

    danhagan Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    May 7, 2009
    Messages:
    2,280
    Location:
    El Paso, TX
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    danhagan
    Same here ... AND for the Power ON stall I had to be in a 20* bank (which we had never practiced prior to checkride).

    Felt harder, as mine was "moved up" as the first candidate of the day got failed in the first 15 min of the oral:eek::eek::eek::eek::confused::confused::confused:
     
  14. RussR

    RussR Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    2,054
    Location:
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Russ
    Under the current Private (and Commercial ACS), both power-on and power-off stalls may be performed in a turn, at the discretion of the examiner. So I make sure to always do some with clients.
     
    23103a and TCABM like this.
  15. whitepines

    whitepines Filing Flight Plan

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2020
    Messages:
    11
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    whitepines
    Yes.
    Yes.
    Yes.

    On the original topic, I've used three different panels now in IR training ranging from steam gauges and a single 430W (this one doesn't let you do arbitrary holds, you have to put it in VOR mode and fly the hold with the second VOR receiver) to full glass. Had to do all of the above on each panel, it's just a side effect of straddling the steam to glass transition period in GA. If I'd wanted to I could have just stuck with one, but I decided I'd rather get familiar with both steam gauges and glass. Even though I'll probably be flying steam gauges for a while yet, glass is likely to be dominant in GA soon enough, and don't want to be behind the 8-ball when that happens.

    Harder? I suspect the non-standardization of the panel hurts, but the SA on full glass gives a degree of confidence in hard IFR that simply isn't there on the older equipment. Better? I suspect so, as long as your CFI/CFII doesn't make you a child of the magenta line that's scared of bank angle in the pattern!
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2021
  16. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2017
    Messages:
    7,161
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    San_Diego_Pilot
    Is today's student less intellectually capable and equipped than they used to be?
     
  17. danhagan

    danhagan Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    May 7, 2009
    Messages:
    2,280
    Location:
    El Paso, TX
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    danhagan
    It sure had my attention *AND* of course I remembered AFTER he asked for the first one. Am pretty sure he was joking, but he indicated if we entered a spin and he corrected it, I was toast ... but if I corrected it (he trailed off and never finished the sentence) ...
     
  18. TCABM

    TCABM Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2013
    Messages:
    1,781
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    3G
    Not necessarily; motivational factors seem to be at play across a wide swath of failures in the adult learning environment.
     
    Tantalum likes this.
  19. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2005
    Messages:
    8,894
    Location:
    Wichita, KS
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    MauleSkinner
    In 1983 I was asked to do an accelerated stall on my Private checkride...basically a stall in a turn.
    No, he wasn’t joking. If the examiner has to take over, it’s a bust.
     
    Tantalum likes this.
  20. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2008
    Messages:
    1,956
    Location:
    Boise, Idaho
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Brian
    The biggest difference I see between my 1988 private checkride and students I train for checkride snow is mainly navigation. The biggest change on the check ride is that we now require private pilots to be able to read maps to what used to be the commercial pilot standards. IMO the reason is simple, Electronic Maps and the Magenta line. In 1988 if you could identify the airspace you need to stay out of or do something special you could pretty much pass the map reading part. The examiner knew that your 1st cross country you would be studying the map and learning it better with every flight. If you didn’t you would soon be lost. Now days the with the direct to button you can never look at a map or get better reading them. The other problem is each display is different. So If I hand you a random navigation application, can you navigate with it? A sectional chart is common to almost all of them. One of the more annoying things is watching a pilot try to figure out how to pull up the frequency display on an app, when the the frequency is written right on the sectional that is already displayed.


    Brian
    CFIIG
     
  21. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2014
    Messages:
    6,674
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Kritchlow
    All I can say is, after reading the POA for several years, I’m very happy I don’t need to redo that.

    That said, I have no issues with essentially the ATP ride every six months.
     
    TCABM and MauleSkinner like this.
  22. RussR

    RussR Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    2,054
    Location:
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Russ
    This I see all the time. It makes me laugh and cry at the same time.
     
    crash7 likes this.