Checkride Preparation – Scenario Questions & Tips
BETH: Hi everyone and welcome back to another flight training video presented by AeroGuard Flight Training Center. My name is Beth and I’m a flight instructor here at AeroGuard and I have our guest again, Pete Reddan. Welcome.
PETE: Thank you.
BETH: Pete Reddan owns Vapor Global Aviation and he is a DPE out of Memphis, Tennessee FSDO and he comes out and does checkrides for us and he’s great. And today, we’re going to talk about some scenario-based questions and how I can turn my rote memorization, my ATOMATOFLAMES, into how he’s going to ask a scenario question and how I can show that I truly understand the material.
PETE: All right, welcome back.
So I’ve asked Beth, the applicant, to accomplish a VRF flight plan from Chandler to Yuma, Arizona. I’ve asked her to brief me on all the information that she’s considered, to include weather, NOTAMS, takeoff and landing distances, elevations; and so she’s given me a complete briefing of her flight plan.
Now what we’re going to do is we’re going to begin the scenario with some of what we call trigger questions. I’m going to ask certain questions and set up certain scenarios for Beth to kind of recall information that she has learned and demonstrate how she applies it. The biggest thing is that just rote memorization of information on your checkride is not good enough. The Airman Certification Standards demand that you reach the understanding level of knowledge, so you have to go from rote, to application, to understanding, so we need to make sure that you get to that level.
We’ve gone through the whole cross-country briefing and now I’m going to begin with a trigger question. As we go into a roll here, so Beth, we plan to take off at 9 a.m. and we were going to go to Yuma, we were going to get breakfast and I was your passenger. You’re the private pilot and you own your own airplane which is awesome. I called you at 8 p.m. last night, and I said, ‘hey, sorry to do this to you, but my day is jam-packed so if we’re going to go get breakfast in Yuma, we have to leave at 4 a.m.’. So we’re moving from 9 a.m. takeoff to 4 a.m. takeoff. What are some things that you may need to consider now that the takeoff time has changed?
BETH: So if we’re leaving at 4 a.m., pretty sure that’s before sunrise. I can double-check that here, and yep, sunrise is at 5:33 a.m., so I need to think about nighttime. You’re my passenger, right? So as PIC, I need to think about night takeoff and landings and currency. One hour before sunrise is 4:33, so I’m definitely going to need to be night-current to take you. I just did my night flights last month, so cool, that’s okay, that’s not a factor. Now I want to think about, let’s see, the aircraft and equipment.
PETE: Before we go into that, we’ll throw some more information into the scenario. So, we’ve showed up at 4 a.m. and you’ve gone out to pre-flight the airplane. Of course you went out and put on the master switch, you turned on all the lights, and as you’re walking around the airplane, you realize that the landing light does not work.
BETH: The landing light, okay, so let’s see if I need that for our flight. So I know 91.205 is ATOMATOFLAES, and that’s the daytime VRF, so the nighttime VFR is going to be the FLATS acronym, and so it’s fuses, anti-collision lights, no alternate power source, position lights and anti-collision lights. I’m saying that in the wrong order. I can’t quite remember what the “l” is. Can I look it up?
This is where I don’t want to give Pete a wrong answer because if I say the wrong thing that’s going to be a disapproval. I’m pretty sure, but I just want to look that up to confirm.
PETE: That’s a great idea. This is a great use of your supporting documents.
BETH: I know it’s 91.205 and so I go here because I have it bookmarked and because I’m familiar with my FAR/AIM, it’s not the first time I’ve looked at it, and so yeah, I’ve got day and then night, and so landing lights – that’s only for hire and this is my plane.
PETE: So it’s your plane and you’re a private pilot, so for hire is not in this scenario.
PETE: So now the question is, now you’ve done your pre-flight you’ve referred to the regs you know that there’s equipment requirements, can you still legally fly? Can you still legally take off at 4 a.m.?
BETH: Well, so I don’t need it, but now I have inoperative equipment. So, now I need to go through that checklist, and at AeroGuard we do have a checklist for that that we can follow through, but I think I know it and I do know the reg. So, that’s going to be – do we have an MEL? And then, I’m going to go through if it has a VRF day type certificate or I’m going to go on my POH.
PETE: So we look at all that stuff and for right now nothing says you need a landing light.
BETH: So I can legally fly without it, but now I need to make it an operative. That’s the 91.213, and so what I need to do is make it inoperative by pulling the circuit breaker up, putting a zip tie in it. I need to placard it and say that it isn’t operative. That’s not going to affect the weight and balance so that’s okay. Then I have to make the most important decision and decide if I’m okay flying without a landing light.
PETE: That’s a great question. So now, we get into personal minimums, and what would your plan of attack be if you had this scenario and your friend had woken up at 4 a.m. and came to meet you, you’re going to go get breakfast in Yuma and the whole nine yards? Now, you’re faced with this this decision, what decision would you make?
BETH: I think for me, knowing that sunrise is at 5:30 and we’re meeting at four, I think that by the time we pre-flight this airplane and we take off, we’re going to be getting into that civil twilight and we’re going to rise up. I think that we’re going to get the dawn hours and some civil twilight, so I think I’m okay with that knowing that it’s getting brighter.
PETE: Okay, so you would accept the risk, and you you’ve mitigated it because you know when sunrise is, and you know that you really don’t need your lighting during the day. So, that’s good.
If you decided not to go, let’s say you decided not to go at 4 a.m. What could you do? You’ve already kind of hinted at it about civil twilight, but what could you do if you wanted to be 100% sure that there was going to be zero risk with a landing light being out?
BETH: I could just ask you and say that’s not possible, you know, I’m the PIC. That’s why I’m not comfortable with that. We’re going to have to wait until a little later time, so until there’s civil twilight or the sun rises.
PETE: Okay excellent, so there you have a scenario-based question and answer session. What will happen is you’ll probably have a scenario for pre-flight, maybe departure, en-route and then maybe on your arrival, you’ll probably have trigger questions throughout all that to help demonstrate that you understand and can apply the knowledge that you have learned. And that’s really important for the DPE to see that because that’s what the ACS demands.
PETE: Great job with that pre-flight scenario, Beth.
BETH: Thank you.
PETE: So we’re going to go ahead and move onto the en-route scenario.
Okay, so we’re flying along to Yuma, we’re up at 8,000 feet, it is night time and we have a couple of lights on in the cockpit so we can read charts and see instruments, and you look over at me and you realize, ‘hey, you know Pete’s lips are looking a little darker than normal’. You look at my fingertips because you kind of notice when something’s wrong, and you see that they’re turning kind of dark and I’m acting just a little loopy than normal. What would you do with that? What’s going on? what’s happening there?
BETH: What I would be thinking, as my passenger, you probably have a hypoxia. I’m going to think you have hypoxic hypoxia, because at nighttime, once you’re above 5,000, you’re more susceptible to that. I’m going to ask you how you’re feeling as my passenger and try to talk to you and assess the situation, but I’m going to begin a slow descent checking out.
PETE: So you talk to me and I kind of respond, but it’s just not normal.
BETH: I think that you have hypoxia.
PETE: So good, so you said you were going to descend. You know, you could reference your sectional chart at this time.
These are some things you can think about: reference your sectional chart, look at your minimum en-route altitudes, look at your obstruction altitudes for towers or mountains or what have you, look for, spot elevations and make sure you’re not going to hit anything. That’s a good scenario to go down.
So then, next thing that could happen is, let’s say, same scenario, we’re at 8,000 feet and we’re flying along. It’s real cold, it’s middle winter, we’re in Arizona. The freezing level goes all the way down to the ground and you have the heater on, and you look over at me, you’re seeing the same kind of symptoms; I’m kind of a little loopy. I have blue fingernails or dark-colored fingernails because of the lights, and my lips are blue, and then you are experiencing a real painful headache right between your eyebrows. So now what’s going on?
BETH: Okay so based off of that, I’m going to think we since the heater’s on, we have carbon monoxide poisoning. Okay, that’s definitely a form of hypoxia. I don’t want to mess around with that. It’s pretty serious, so I’m going to open up the windows immediately, open up the air vents and try to get oxygen inside the cockpit, and also the carbon monoxide is probably coming from the heater. Once I have oxygen coming in, then I’m going to close the heater so that I stop carbon monoxide coming in and then I can also confirm by looking on my CO alert, but same thing, I’m going to check the MES and then make sure I don’t hit anything on the way down, but do a slow descent down seeing where I can land.
PETE: Again, real good. You hit all the high points of what we’re looking for as a DPE and what actions you would take. You understand the signs and the symptoms, you are able to, if you will, ‘diagnose’, we’ll put air quotes around that, because you’re not a doctor, what’s happening with your passenger.
The most important part of being a pilot in command is taking responsibility for your passengers and their care and protection. You need to make sure, a couple of things you could probably think of, if you wanted to, once you get everything under control and you’re heading to that airport, you know, doesn’t have a control tower. If it does, maybe tell them your emergency. Tell them that you need an ambulance on scene, that it is carbon monoxide; relay as much information as you can.
So, taking the scenario as far as possible as the pilot in command is really what you want to do and demonstrate, what have I thought through in this in this plan. I think an excellent job on hypoxia. I think you would be able to remain taking your exam. I don’t think you would be disapproved yet, but we’ll see what happens in the next scenario.
BETH: Thanks Pete, I appreciate it.
Last Minute Tips
BETH: Pete, thanks so much for being here. That was really helpful.
PETE: Also thanks, for having me.
BETH: Awesome, any last-minute tips for students on scenarios?
PETE: Sure, if you ever have a question about what to expect on a pilot examination, you should never fear approaching a DPE and asking the question. They should give you a professional, humble answer outside of the exam, so that it should ease your fears or the unknowns that you’re battling so you can have a successful checkride.
BETH: Awesome, thanks again for being here.
We’re going to have one more part in this series with Pete, so look forward to our frequently asked question video coming up and thanks so much for liking and subscribing. You can leave some comments below. Let us know some scenarios you got on your checkride. Good luck with everything, bye!
Thanks, Pete, for coming out again and talking with us on the scenario-based questions. I hope that helps you guys. We have one more segment with Pete. He’ll be out and we’re going to discuss frequently asked questions for your checkride. Thanks for watching as always and please like and subscribe below. See you next time!