Instrument pilot and ATP​ applicants

  • Oral portion

    • Circling distances and categories.

    • Understanding which minimums are required to proceed past the FAF on an instrument approach.

    • Not knowing when vertical guidance becomes available on an LPV approach.

    • Meaning/so-what of a VDP.

    • Ability to identify the missed approach point on every assigned approach.​

  • Flight portion

    • By far, the most common problem is automation confusion. As you practice approaches, transitions, missed approaches, etc... I suggest you make a list of what buttons you push and when. If you make an input error, figure out why, adjust your list and do it again. You must understand how your system works if you are cleared direct the IAF versus being given vectors to intercept the localizer or final approach course, for example.

    • Other automation issues; lack of knowledge and familiarity regarding:

      • Lateral guidance modes (HDG vs NAV, ROLL mode).

      • Use of a flight director and how it should be set up properly.

      • Vertical guidance modes.

      • Flight plan input and modification.

      • Failure to use the heading bug, or reset the DG to the magnetic compass, for aircraft so equipped.

    • Circling maneuver. Poor technique that results in going below the MDA. The circling maneuver is arguably the most difficult one in the checkride, and is worthy of special emphasis and detailed training. Going below the MDA except when starting the landing maneuver very likely will result in a disapproval. Since the tolerance is -0/+100, it's worth erring on the "up" side; if the MDA is 1260 feet, holding 1300 feet would be a smart idea instead of trying to hold 1260 feet and leaving no room for error.

    • DA for LPV approaches. Lack of certainty regarding the action required when reaching the DA on an LPV approach.

    • Proficiency for all approaches. The test includes non-precision approaches, which can be LOC, LNAV, LP, and VOR. Make sure you practice all these kinds of approaches. RNAV/GPS approaches usually carry four different kinds of minimums; being proficient in the LPV version is not enough. You need to be proficient in the LNAV and circling versions too. LNAV/VNAV rarely applies to the equipment installed in a general aviation airplane; you should draw a red line through those minimums in order to avoid confusion.