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3 hours with an authorized CFI in Prep for the practical test

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Flight Instructor

Most sign offs for a certificate require three (3) hours from an authorized instructor in preparation of a practical test (for example FAR 61.129 (b) (3) (v)) within the preceding 2 calendar months for the month of the test.

If the test is scheduled for February 15, does this mean any flight instructional time by an authorized instructor counts towards the three hours since December 1?  Can the authorized instructor be two separate authorized instructor who endorsed the training and either one of the instructors providing the recommendation?

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3 Answers

  1. Wes Beard on Feb 13, 2013

    The regulations require a CFI to sign your logbook stating that they have given you 3 hours of training in preparation of the practical test. I would not accept an applicant that did not have those three hours with the CFI signing the endorsement.

    Any flight from Dec 1st will count with that instructor as long as the reason for the training flight is to prepare you for the practical test. It can’t be cross country training only but it can incorporate parts of the cross country trip and then move along to the other maneuvers.

    Typically, the practical test will have you create a flight plan on the ground, the examiner and you will go over the plan for completeness and accurateness. The examiner, after the rest of the oral is complete, will tell you that we are going to depart on the trip.

    Once in the air, you will start off on your cross country trip. When the examiner sees you can navigate along your chosen flight path he will either put you under the hood for basic instrument skills or divert you to a nearby airport.

    When those are complete, the airwork is completed and then back to the airport for the landings.

    I would think preparation for the practical test would include a scenario like the one the examiner might give you.

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  2. Matthew Waugh on Feb 13, 2013

    If you had 3 different instructors give you an hour of instruction each (and appropriately identify that training) and then had a 4th instructor endorse you for the exam it would be a brave DE indeed who would not accept those logbook entries and endorsements as meeting the regulations to qualify you for the practical test.

    I’m not saying it’s a good idea. It’s likely you would start the practical test with a skeptical DE perhaps more inclined to fail you than pass you – but the DE cannot refuse to “accept the applicant” unless they fancy a nice chat with their supervising FSDO.

    There was also a comment about “it can’t only be cross-country training”, but of course it can, because if the preparation for the practical test is done during flight(s) to airports that meet the definition of cross-country flights then it’s all logged as cross-country. You don’t list the items being prepared for – my logbook entries said “Practical Test Prep” and the rest of my CFI stuff.

    Now there are a myriad of practical issues. For example, I can’t imagine any situation in which I would not expect to fly for at least 3 hours with a candidate before endorsing them for a practical test – they can fly with other instructors as well – but if I’m signing on the dotted line I’m going to want to know they’re prepared. I find it unlikely that doing unrequired cross-country flights as practical test prep is efficient or that we can have reached the test prep. stage without having the cross-country dual requirements met. So it’s a little like angels dancing on heads of pins as far as I’m concerned – but what is the point of these discussions if not for exactly that. 🙂

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  3. Bill Trussell on Feb 13, 2013

    It might be helpful to recall why the 3 hour test prep was included in the requirements in the first place. The FAA discovered that applicants were arriving for their practical test unprepared to pass. Having placed the blame on the CFIs they placed a specific time requirement for test prep in order to avoid the situation where the DE or FAA examiner was doing more of a stage check than a practical test.

    All that said, the FAA was not very specific on what the lesson plans needed to look like for that 3 hour requirement. First of all the 3 hours is a minimum. Second, who is to say that brushing up on basic instrument and navigation skills during a flight to a different airport, perhaps one with a control tower or through class B airspace, does not constitute good practical test prep? It would depend on the student’s needs and the environment to be used for the practical test. There are some places in the country where a flight of 50 miles or more is required just to get to the practical test. If that were the case the instructor would be remiss in not familiarizing the student with the route and locale before the test trip.

    While the typical practical test normally does cover only a portion of a cross country flight there are a lot of items for a pracical test prep that can be covered on a short cross country.

    Keep in mind the FAA just wanted to know that someone had checked on the student prior to their practical test, and did not sign them off for solo and then just merely endorsed them for their test in the hope they would pass. Consider it somewhat of a forced stage check.

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