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Common Problems - Flight Review

by Darren Smith, ATP, CFII/MEI
from Darren's Flight Review Guide
CFIDarren Newsletter, October 21, 2010
IFR Navigation:   General Info Instrument Rating | Instrument Rating Lesson Plans | 7-day IFR Rating IFR Adventure | Instrument Ground School | Safety Pilot | Holding | IFR Risk | Trip Reports | Flight Profiles | Rating Requirements | After the IFR RatingCheckride Reviewer | Are you really ready for an instrument rating?

This article attempts to share all the common problems I've seen doing pilot flight reviews.

What prompts me to write this page:  The FAA has recently published new guidance for flight instructors to conduct flight reviews.  This is a major 29 page addition to Advisory Circular 61-98A.  After reviewing the new document, its clear that the FAA is concerned about pilot performance and wants flight instructors to strengthen the review process.  Gone are the days of three trips around the pattern and you're signed off for another two years.   With a new mix of regulation, ADIZ & more complicated airspace, TFRs, and better accident stat reporting, it becomes clear that unqualified pilots in the airspace create problems. The FAA has made it clear to the CFI:  a BFR is an evaluation, not flight instruction.

General pilot skills
  • Staring too much at the cockpit instruments for a VFR flight
  • Bad taxi skills
  • Death grip on the flight controls
  • Collision avoidance:  Failure to look before turning & failure to clear the pattern (both sides) before using the runway
  • Failure to hold heading, altitude, airspeed, etc.
  • Failure to maintain an appropriate ground track, compensating for winds
  • Failure to maintain a straight departure leg, compensating for winds
  • Failure to employ collision avoidance techniques
  • Slipping the wrong way (should be wing down into the wind)
  • What frequency to use when the tower is closed
  • "...commence turn to crosswind leg beyond the departure end of the runway within 300 feet of pattern altitude." -- AIM 4-3-3
  • Stall recovery, folks still shove the nose over and point the aircraft at the ground.  Stall recovery is always PITCH-POWER-DRAG-CLIMB.  The initial reaction is alter the pitch to alleviate the stall - this is usually putting the nose to the horizon or slightly below it.
Emergency Procedures
  • Failure to click off autopilot when an engine failure has occurred
  • Spin recovery checklist
Cross Country Flight Planning
  • Failure to know what airspace you'll be flying through for each part of your cross country including weather minimums
  • Failure to do a weight and balance
  • Can you do a diversion by ded(uctive) reckoning?  Over-reliance on GPS or VOR equipment.
  • Unable to show ARROW
  • Unable to show AV1ATE + Airworthiness Directive Compliance
  • Unable to discuss the required equipment of 91.205 and 91.213
These are just some of the most common errors of folks coming to the flight review or instrument rating training.  If you know you are weak in any of these areas, study up on them before your next training session, flight review, or accelerated training program.

Get started on your instrument rating with the Instrument Ground School
Complete your instrument rating with a 7-day Instrument Rating Training Program
Want to know more?  Read about Basic Attitude Instruction and Instrument Lesson Plans
Curious about the instrument checkride? See the Instrument Rating Plan of Action

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