U.S. Department
of Transportation

Federal Aviation

St. Louis
Flight Standards District Office

10801 Pear Tree Lane
Suite 200
St. Ann, Missouri 63074


February 2005




Thought for the month.....
There are 4-ways to conduct an evaluation:
the right way, the wrong way, the DPE's way, and the PTS.
Only one counts.

The PTS is not a guide, it's the law!... At the recent CFI renewal clinic held in conjunction with the Super Safety Seminar, a panel discussion with evaluators was conducted. The panel included pilot examiners (DPEs) and inspectors, answering questions about checkrides. One interesting question was raised about whether an examiner could bust someone for failing to keep his or her hand on the throttle at all times. That was the specific question, but what the individual was really asking was whether an examiner can bust someone because they failed to comply with some pet peeve or technique the examiner uses or endorses.

All flight evaluators, whether they are DPEs or inspectors, have to comply with the practical test standards. By inclusion CFR part 61 makes them part of the rule, and the PTS gives us the standards that must be demonstrated for a practical test to be successful. If that were all there was to say about it, the answer would be easy because nowhere in the PTS is there a requirement for the applicant to keep his or her hand on the throttle at all times. However, in the introduction to the PTS there are a number of sections that provide guidance in using the standards. One area is titled, "Satisfactory Performance", and two of the requirements listed in this area are the demonstration of sound judgment and single-pilot competence.

Vibrations, or just the way the throttle is rigged, may cause it to slip and allow the RPM to back off. If the applicant permits that to happen during the flight, particularly at a critical time like immediately after takeoff or while maneuvering, the examiner may determine that it represents a failure of the applicant to properly monitor the flight controls and does not demonstrate the competency expected of someone operating the aircraft single pilot. In that case, it could be justifiable to "unsat" the applicant for not keeping their hand on the throttle. Positive aircraft control is a special emphasis item in the PTS and if the examiner briefs the applicant that in his or her opinion positive aircraft control includes keeping a hand on the throttle, that might be justifiable. The bottom line is, however, that I cannot bust someone simply for not doing it "my way".

After years of flying I've picked-up a number of techniques and pieces of information. I've learned about gegenschein (you can Google it if you're interested), but I wouldn't expect a new CFI to know what it is. I know a good technique for clearing wires on the approach to a short runway on a really gusty and turbulent day, but it's not in the Airplane Flying Handbook. As pilots, we all develop these things as we gain experience. They sometimes come as a result of an example we've observed or advice given to us by a more experienced airman. Often, it's because something happened during a flight that was noteworthy enough to make us adopt a specific procedure. None of this is testable material.

The purpose of practical test standards is to level the playing field and ensure everyone is getting a fair evaluation. There are a lot of ways to deal with a crosswind on landing, but the standards that must be used during a practical test are the ones listed under that task in the PTS. The PTS task for an Emergency Approach and Landing requires that I establish and maintain the recommended best-glide airspeed ±10 knots. If I experience a real engine failure in flight, I may not want to use the best-glide airspeed, but by demonstrating it on this task, the examiner can be reasonably assured that I have sufficient knowledge and mastery of the aircraft to adapt as necessary to the actual conditions.

We all have hot buttons that we may emphasize on an evaluation. I brief applicants that I will not turn the aircraft in their direction until I have received a response that it is clear. Likewise, I don't want them turning in my direction until I've checked and verified that it is clear. This is an emphasis item in the PTS and the first time the applicant turns without clearing, I will remind them of that fact. The second time it happens, they can continue the turn to a heading back to the airport because the evaluation is over. The applicant might report that I failed him or her simply because they didn't announce that it was "clear". That would be a true statement but it's taken out of context because the procedure was briefed and a warning given. If there's a question about an evaluation, the recommending instructor should contact the examiner directly to ensure that the context of the usat is understood. If a problem remains, it should be addressed to the FSDO. There are 4-ways to conduct an evaluation: the right way, the wrong way, the DPE's way, and the PTS. Only one counts.

Upcoming Events
(Clicking on the date will take you to the FAA's website for a descripton of the event.)

February 5 & 6
30th Super Safety Seminar
Flight Instructor Renewal Clinic
8AM to 5PM.
Anheuser-Busch Auditorium
Lower level Cook Hall
St. Louis University.

February 11& 12
Aviation Maintenance Seminar
Holiday Inn
Collinsville, IL

February 17 (no online information)
Mid-Air Collision Avoidance
Hillbilly Junction Restaurant
Willow Springs, MO
7:00 p.m.

February 24
The Successful Cross Country
The Landing Place Restaurant
Cape Girardeau Airport
Cape Girardeau, MO
7:00 PM

March 15
Airport User Meeting and Operation Rain Check
Mid-Coast Training Center
St. Louis Downtown Airport
Cahokia, IL
1:00 p.m. and again at 7:00 p.m.

Register at http//faasafety.gov for E-mail notification of safety seminars in the St. Louis District.

Let's Not Meet By Accident
Fred Harms
Operations Safety Program Manager
800-322-8876 ext 4835