BY: JIM CURRIER---FORMER F.A.A. DESIGNATED PILOT EXAMINER  (updated 4-19-18)
This page is set up to provide information and assistance to those planning on taking a checkride in the near future (pilot applicants), as well as CFIs (especially recommending CFIs).  Hopefully the information will be helpful in preparing for your checkride, and  making your checkride easier. Following the recommendations and directions here will also make sure that the eligibility and paperwork requirements are met. In addition to the General Info section,  I've set up different pages that are specific for each certificate and rating for which I was authorized to conducts checks.  There are also links to other specific documents and information.


I. PREPARATION---Its only natural to be stressed and a little apprehensive about taking checkrides.  Most of us (and probably everyone) experience that feeling.  I take several checkrides a year and still get stressed and nervous about taking them. By being adequately prepared, you'll find that the checkride will be less stressful. In fact you'll probably come away learning something from it. Remember, most examiners don't want to fail applicants, and in fact, genuinely want the applicant to pass.  However, for many reasons, they canot pass an applicant if he/she is not safe, and does not meet the ACS or PTS  requirements.

A. PREPARE YOURSELF. One of the most important things for preparing for any checkride is preparing yourself for it--- physically, mentally, emotionally, and of course be up to speed in terms of the required knowleged and skill.
1. Be well rested and (to the extent possible) free of any stress and distractions.  
2. Try to make sure you've eaten before the checkride.  
3. Postpone the test if you are sick or not feeling well.  
4. Dress comfortably. Shorts & T-shirt type apparel (or whatever you're comfortable is) is perfectly fine. No extra points for fashion or neatness.
5. It's suggested that you arrive at the testing sight in plenty of time to adequately prepare yourself for the test.  Also (if possible), plan on not having any
    commitments for several hours after the planned completion of the test (just in case there are any unexpected delays or complications)

B. PREPARE THE AIRPLANE- The airplane must be (legally) airworthy and approprite for the checkride.

1. Review the logbooks with your instructor a couple of days before the flight to make sure all required inspections and ADs are complied with and that you can easily find them.  NOTE: Most examiners will issue a Notice of Disapproval (pink slip / failure notice) if you show up with an unairworth aircraft.

2. It’s recommended that you thoroughly preflight (and maybe flight test) the airplane immediately before the scheduled check so that you have time to resolve any mechanical issues (or arrange for a backup airplane) prior to the test beginning.  If the FBO/flight school or the aircraft’s schedule does not allow for this, you can schedule the airplane approximately 90 minutes after the scheduled appointment time.  For the purposes of the flight planning, most examiners will allow you to use a generic POH/AFM for the make and model of the plane being used for the flight test.  You will need however, the empty weight and moment for the airplane you are using.

3. If a GPS equipped aircraft will be used on a checkride for an Instrument Rating or ATP, the unit must be IFR certified, and the navigation database must be current.  

4. Ensure that  the aircraft is legally airworthy.  This means all required inspections and other maintenance requirements have been performed, and there are no inoperative items that have not been addressed in compliance with FAR 91.213.

5. Ensure the aircraft’s logbooks are available and properly endorsed. You will need to bring them to the test for examination. It’s recommended that you tag or mark the required inspections and maintenance items for easy reference

C. PREPARE YOUR PAPERWORK- In order to get off to a good start, the paperwork needs to be right. If it's not, the process will take longer, or the check may have to be postponed.  

1. The use of  IACRA is strongly encouraged for the application process (and may be required by the examiner).  If  IACRA will be used, make sure you bring a printed  completed application (form 8710-1)  anyway, in case there are problems accessing or completing the IACRA application process.  If you (or your instructor) elect not to use IACRA, ensure  that the application (8710-1) is properly completed and signed. Sign using  Blue Ink. This makes it easier for FAA personnel to determine that this is an original document..  The application should be typed or completed electronically. An (editable) PDF version of the 8710-1 form is available here.  Check this page for common 8710-1 related errors and issues.

2. Ive prepared three (3)  checklists that will help ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements for the test. You (and your instructor) are welcome to use them.   They are:

a. Appointment Checklist- I used this form to help identify any issues related to your identity, documents, or the test that may become an issue in establishing eligibility to take the test. By doing so prior to the test date, any such issues can be identified and resolved ahead of time.  Feel free to use it if your examiner doesnt have one of his own.  Note that FAA requirements on some of the issues here change over time, and this form may not be up to date (I won't be updating it).      Appointment Checklist- Word document protected form (ideal for email or faxing)
b. Eligibility Checklist.  This checklist will list the houly requirements, as well as the required endorsements, and flight/ground training that must be logged. Select the checklist apporpriate for the certificate or rating you are to be tested for.  Please note that it will be helpful  (and save time) if you add up the column totals in your logbook pages.
1. Private Pilot (SEL)
2. Instrument Rating (SEL)
3. Commercial Pilot (SEL)
4. Commercial Pilot (MEL)
5. ATP (SEL & MEL).    Note that this has not been updated in accordance to the change in the FARs.
6. Multi-eingine Add-on (Private Pilot)
7. Single-Engine / Multi-engine Add-on

c. Checkride Checklist-  This is essentually the same checklist thats contained in the front of the PTS or in the appendixes of the ACS, except that I've added a few items.

The test will be conducted as per the appropriate new Airman Certification Standards (ACS), or  Practical Test Standard (PTS).  NOTE: At this time the FAA is transitioning from the PTS to the ACS. Therefore some certificates / ratings are using the PTS whhile others are using the ACS.  You can view and download the appropriate ACS or PTS  here.  HINT: Be sure to read thru the appendices in the back of the of ACS for informtion specific to your checkride.        For additional information regarding the ACS /PTS CLICK HERE

You need to be familiar with this document, and be knowledgeable in all of the AREAS OF OPERATION and their TASKS appropriate for the certificate and rating you are seeking.  Your instructor should have trained you in these areas and tasks to the standards listed, and reviewed these items with you, in detail, prior to the test.   

 NOTE: One of the services  I offer is a comprehensive ACS/PTS review,  as well as a  practice simulated checkride.  


1. The first thing the examiner will need to do (after collecting the required fee)  is to verify that you’re qualified to take the test.  This process involves checking your application (8710-1), logbook (more on that later), and identification, as well as the aircraft log books (the aircraft must be legally airworthy in order to fly).  The examiner will then give you a Pre-test Briefing (similar to this) , and then begin the oral portion of  the test.  Checkout the link (below) for the requirements specific to the  certificate/rating that you are seeking..

2. If you’re a foreign national or a non-native English speaker, a simple and short English language will usually be administered at this time (in accordance with AC60-28).  

3.  You should notify the examiner prior to the day of the checkride IF any of the following apply:
    a. You  hold  a foreign pilot certificate, and are seeking an additional rating, certificate, or removal of limitations.  This also applies if you are seeking a certificate/rating
         based on a foreign pilot certificate.
    b. If you hold a dual citizenship.
    c. This is a re-test or a contunuance of a test.
    d. If you had a name change
    e. If a simulator / flight training device was used to meet the requirements for the certificate/rating.
    f. If you are using an aircraft not belonging to a flight school or club.
    g. If you've been convicted of a drug-related offense
    h. If you name is not exactly the same on your doocuments (medical,  pilot certificate (including student pilot certificate) , photo ID,  and written test results).

If there was a flight plan assigned, it will be reviewed in detail, and will likely be a substantial part of the oral.  There will also be questions selected from each task in the PTS/ACS, as well as on any questions missed on the knowledge (written) test.  There are typically no trick questions. If you're well prepared (using the PTS/ACS) you should have no problem.  I would suggest that you bring all of your reference  materials (POH/AFM, FARs/AIM, studying materials, etc..). While most of the oral exam is closed book, there are some limited items that may be able to be looked up.  Checkout the links (below) for the specific certificate/rating for more info on the oral portion.

Assuming the oral goes well, after a short break, and a pre-flight briefing you will move onto the flight portion.  Again the PTS/ACS is the guide. As per the ACS, perfection is NOT the standard.  It may help to visualize this part of the test as an opportunity to show off your skills, and try to have fun doing so. Checkout the links (below) for the specific certificate/rating for more info on the flight portion.  Be sure to checkout the "Special Emphasis" listed in the applicable PTS/ACS.

D. DURATION: Depending on which certificate/rating you're testing for, the you can expect the process to take anywhere from 4-6 hours (including breaks, briefings, and the required paperwork).  Being well prepared, and having the paperwork right will keep the time to a minimum.

1. Throughout the test....
     a. The examiner will be using a written Plan of Action (POA) (used to organize the practical test)
     b  The examiner may be taking notes for the debrief..
     c. Oral questioning will continue throughout the test
2. Three possible outcomes are:
         1) PASS = Temporary airman certificate
         2) FAIL = Notice of disapproval of application (Credit may be given for AREAS of OPERATION and TASKS completed)
         3) Letter of Discontinuance - Issued in the event the test cannot be completed once it has begun. This is not a failure, and credit will be given those
             AREAS of OPERATION and TASKS completed
3. The test may be discontinued at anytime by either the examiner or the applicant.

4. The failure of one or more TASKS will result in the failure of the associated AREA of OPERATION, and therefore a failure of the TEST.

5. In the event of a failure of a TASK /AREA of OPERATION, the examiner may elect to continue the test with the concurrence of the
    applicant, in order to complete as many TASKS/AREAS of OPERATION as possible or practical.

6. If a TASK (maneuver or question)  doesn't go well, I suggest that you put it behind you and try to continue with the check (if given the option) in order to get as much credit as possible.

7. If possible, I suggest that you arrange for the instructor who endorsed you, to be available to clear up any paperwork or qualifying issues that may arise. I’d also suggest  that you  have your (or another) flight instructor available in the event of  a failure. If it’s just a matter of cleaning up a couple of things,  time and schedule permitting, the instructor could (potentially) immediately provide the additional necessary training, re-sign you off, and  IF the examiner is agreeable, the re-check could be completed that same day). 

8.For Instrument Rating, Commercial, or ATP applicants: --If a Flight Training Device is to be used, the examiner may need a copy of the Letter of Authorization for that device prior to the flight check..  Note that the number of tasks allowed to be performed in a FTD are very limited. See the appropriate ACS/PTS appendix.

9. Foreign Students/ Applicants
      a. The address on the 8710 and medical certificate should be you home address (permanant mailing address)...not the school's address.  If you wish to
           have a certificate mailed to the school (or somewhere other than your home address) it should be noted on a separate pice of paper. If using IACRA,
           there is a place to indicate such.

      b. It's is highy recommended that you allow (as a buffer) 2-4 weeks between the expected date of your checkride and your return home  This will allow
          some addition time in case your course completeion and checkride is delayed for any reason.

      c. If you hold a dual citizenship, you must first be cleared by the FSDO before taking the practical test.  
      d. If you are applying for a US (restricted) license based on a foreign license:
          1) The foreign license and medical must be current, and, any limitations on it will apply to the US restricted.
          2) A current letter of authorization (issued with the last 12 months) from the FAA Airman Certification Branch (AFS-760) is required to take the test.

11. Re-tests----In the event of a failure on either the oral or flight portion, a retest will be required.  Unless you felt that you were treated unfairly, or there was a personality clash, I'd suggest that you do the retest with the same examiner.  The reason for this is that even though you can reieve credit for those portions of the test complted successfully,  many examiners are leary to allow this credit if the test was started by another examiner  (due to due dilligence and potential liabitly issues).  In that case, you will most likely end up re-doing all or most of the test over again.


4. ATP
5 MULTI-ENGINE ADD-ON RATING  (Private / Commercial)
6. SINGLE-ENGINE ADD-ON RATING (Private / Commercial)
7. ALL CERTIFICATES / RATINGS- COMMON ERRORS- For information about what I've found to be common weak areas, or reasons for failures.

B. CFI INFORMATION--- CFIs click here