Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Instrument Checkride Oral

Given that I want to capture as much detail about the checkride as possible, I'll post it in two parts. First up-- the oral, of course!

After an anxious night spent dreaming about flying, I woke up to find that the predicted low ceilings had not materialized as predicted, and it looked like I might get to do my checkride after all! I arrived at the airport about 30 minutes before my checkride on Friday morning—later than I wanted, but still enough time to pre-flight and finish my last minute calculations. Right at 9am, I walked over to meet the examiner (DE)—I had heard him talking to one of our Asst. Chiefs, so I knew he was around. After the initial intros, we got down to paperwork. Thankfully, everything worked the way it was supposed to on IACRA (what a painful system!). Then we moved to the conference room and settled in for the oral.

He first went through my logbook. Momentary panic when he said he couldn’t find all the instrument hours… but I quickly realized he was only counting the totals at the bottom of the page, and had neglected to add I the 2 hours I had gotten the night before-- I had a total of 40.9 hours. Whew! The one thing he seemed surprised at was my lack of solo hours (only about 30 out of around 275). I explained that it was because my husband and I usually fly together—so I have a ton of PIC hours (around 165 or so), but I can’t count them as solo for that reason. I think he was okay with that, but I do need to get some more solo time.

Next he asked me to get out the flight planning he had asked me to do. The trip was from JYO to Cleveland—any airport. I chose BKL—mostly because we’ve talked about flying there for real. He asked how the weather was—I told him the highlights (pretty good VFR weather, except maybe in the local area). Then we looked at my route on the low en route chart. He asked questions about the MEA and MOCA, about various symbols on the chart and what they mean, and what we would do in the event of lost communications. Mostly pretty easy stuff. Then we switched over to an approach plate, and he asked me some questions about the approach. Things like: what it is I do at decision height, what I need to land, what fuel reserve I need—and when, what the standard minimums are for an alternate, etc.

The only answer I gave that he didn’t like was in response to a question about what I would do if on an approach, I saw the runway before reaching the MAP/DH, but tower was reporting only a ¼ mile visibility (1/2 mile required). I responded that if tower was reporting ¼ mile, but I could tell I had more (i.e. was more than 1 mile from end of the runway, but could see it), then I could land because tower’s visibility may not be accurate for what the actual was for that runway. But, I also said that if I could see the runway, but didn’t actually have the ½ mile visibility required, that I could not land. He said no—that if I could see the runway and was able to land normally, then visibility didn’t matter. I’ll have to check on this as I don’t understand 1) why there are visibility requirements, and 2) why required visibility is included as one of the three things you have to have to land if this is the case.

After this, he told me to go file and get ready to fly. Wow. Really? The oral is over?! I was shocked—it was only 10am… including all of the paperwork, we had only been talking for 60 minutes. We couldn’t have spent more than 45 minutes talking about real questions! After my 2.5 hour oral on my private, I was really surprised. So I went and filed according to what he told me—we’d launch IFR to OKV, then cancel on the first approach (the ILS), and fly the rest (the VOR-A for OKV and the LOC 17 for JYO) VFR.


flyaway said...

i thought that once you were able to see the runway environment (note environment vs runway itself since runway lighting is good enough) you could transition to VFR and land regardless of the reported current visibility. as to the visibility requirements, i thought that those (in addition to ceiling) were what required for deciding whether or not you had to file an alternate (or use it as an alternate for that matter).

congratulations! it sounds like everything has gone very well for you.
i've had 4 or so IFR lessons in the plane now and need to quickly pick up my XC hours. i'm way behind on those and have nowhere near your solo hours. i'm not looking forward to the bills though.

Tim said...

The thing to remember about visibility - it's all about "PILOT's visibility." If the reports are for 1/4mi vis, but you are 1mi away and can see clearly, the visibility is obviously at least 1 mi and therefore you are above minimums to land. You're instructor probably taught you that, you just forgot. It's common.

From - Your Instructor Tim :)

Chris Larkin said...

You are not permitted to start the approach if the reported visibility is less than that stated on the approach. If you are inside the FAF and the tower reports below minimum RVR or Vis you are allowed to still attempt the landing if the required runway visibility is there at MDA/DH for a normal descent to landing.