Some of the errors I witness on checkrides show that students are not being properly trained on certain tasks. The following comments are designed to help CFIs avoid these teaching mistakes.


Private and/or commercial pilot checkrides

Task VI A, pilotage and dead reckoning

In the instruction I provide applicants a week or more before their checkride, I explain that if they use Foreflight or other products, I will require them to turn off the features that show the airplane’s position. On several occasions, I have had to show applicants how to do this, leading me to the logical conclusion that they have been conducting most of or maybe all their navigation training with that feature enabled. These applicants almost invariably get lost shortly after takeoff and fail their checkride within the first half hour. Refer to’s “Tips for all checkrides” for additional comments regarding this task.

Landings. The runway numbers or threshold markings should not be the point your student announces as their intended touchdown point because landing short of them poses a grave safety risk. Safe possibilities include the second “stripe” or the 1000 foot aiming points.

Slow flight airspeed. I typically ask the applicant what speed they will use for slow flight during the ground portions, and note it on my kneeboard. The speed at which slow flight is demonstrated must be “an airspeed at which any further increase in angle of attack, increase in load factor, or reduction in power, would result in a stall warning (e.g., airplane buffet, stall horn, etc.)”. SAFO 17009 page 3 explains how this speed should be determined.


Instrument and/or ATP checkrides

As detailed in the “Tips for all checkrides” page, automation confusion is the most common problem. I recommend you introduce variations when training your student on an ILS approach, for example. ATC could instruct the pilot to intercept the localizer but not clear them for the approach, or to go direct the IAF to begin the approach, or to go direct a feeder fix, or even to have them hold at the IAF before starting the approach. When training your student for the precision approach task, you should be especially vigilant for automation input errors, and ensure that you clarify with your student why such an error occurred and how it can be avoided and/or fixed.

Circling approach. This task is the most difficult one of the checkride, and especially so if not thoroughly practiced. The applicant must be trained to circle no lower than the MDA and no higher than 100ft above the MDA. It takes a lot of practice to perform this maneuver correctly within the mandated 100ft buffer zone. If you have your student shoot the approach down to the MDA and call it “good enough”, it is unlikely they will be able to perform the complete procedure during the checkride.

Applicants for the CFI certificate make some predictable errors; if you implement the following recommendations, you should be able to avoid making these mistakes. I encourage you to read these notes methodically, in their entirety, and to ensure you embed my recommendations in the instruction you will present during your test.