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5 Answers

Using digital documents on the checkride?

Asked by: 2129 views Flight Instructor

I'm preparing for my CFI/CFII check rides with the American Flyers 30 day course. It's been over 10 years since I've been in the general aviation world when I earned my private, instrument, and commercial ratings, and a lot of my resources are dated. I'm getting ready to download/print/buy a lot of the material like Practical Test Standards for private, instrument and commercial, FAR/AIM, a lot of Advisory Circulatorys, Airplane Flying Handbook, Aviation Instructors Handbook, etc, basically all the stuff I need for reference during preparation and to use while taking the practical test.

I currently have most of these downloaded in PDF format on my PC and I really like accessing them that way because I can use tools like the search function. My question is will it be acceptable to show up to my initial CFI practical test with all of these documents loaded onto a tablet? It would save me money from either buying or printing the material, almost enough to justify the cost of one of the less expensive tablets. I also like the idea of using some flying apps on the tablet for example checklists, charts, w/b calculator, or e6b functions. Even being able to pull up a short youtube video or access pictures on the internet during the teaching part of the practical test could possibly be helpful, for example a quick clip showing wind tunnel testing with smoke trails to introduce or enforce a lesson about aerodynamics.  I just don't know if it's appropriate or acceptable.

What are the experienced CFI's and examiner's thoughts on this? Will digital documents be acceptable or should I forget about the tablet and do everything the old fashioned way?

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5 Answers



  1. Mark Kolber on Jan 15, 2014

    The vagaries of a specific examiners personal, private biases aside, there’ snitching wrong with having them digital rather than etched on stone tablets. But the last thing you want to have to do is justify yourself to the renegade examiner. So it’s generally a good idea to find out in advance if examiners, or particular examiners, in your area like paper, 3-piece suits, 4-corner hats, beards, pencils rather than pens, high wing or low wing airplanes, have their own interpretations of the FAR…..

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  2. Mark Kolber on Jan 15, 2014

    Silly automatic spelling… “Snitching”

    There is nothing wrong…

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  3. Cody Barringer on Jan 16, 2014

    You are only required to have certain documents and charts in the aircraft, but I would recommend calling and asking the examiner. Is it easier for you to show that you have a legitimate, up-to-date version of what you’re using?

    I had an interesting thing happen on my last checkride, I was using DUATs and the examiner was using an iPhone app to get the TAF, and my was up-to-date but his wasn’t. The fact that I was using DUATs should have trumped other sources, but I decided not to press th point. 😉

    I shy away from using digital materials (i.e. charts and GPS) during the actual checkride, but don’t see why it would be a problem for most examiners during the oral, as long as they can see you’re not looking up answers secretly!

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  4. Wes Beard on Jan 17, 2014

    I would purchase an iPad like device and store all the freely available downloads from the FAA website. All examiners know that, if they dig deep enough during a CFI oral they are going to hear incorrect statements from the applicant and could fail their oral.

    Part of the oral, in my opinion, is to have the CFI applicant showcase the fact they know where to look up the answers and provide those answers in a easy to understand way for their students. The searching capability of the PDF documents make this much easier.

    Even if you read this forum, all sorts of CFIs agree on the simple things but once a scenario is put out there that challenges those simple things, CFIs will come to differing conclusions. We were just having a conversation on cross country time and when it can be counted. Sounds simple but reading the original posters scenario makes CFIs come to different conclusions. So the really good CFIs will resort to material published (hopefully by a reputable source: FAA, Jeppesen, ASA, etc.) to defend their reasoning. The search function is a great tool to have.

    In the cross country time thread I referenced the FAA regulations and applied my interpretation to what that regulation states. Other CFIs disagreed and that is OK. If during the oral, your interpretation is not correct based on the referenced material or what the examiner’s interpretation was, I would suspect the examiner would press the issue until your interpretation resembled his or disapprove the oral.

    I reference the electronic version of the FARs online all the time and search the regulations for keywords. You can probably do that on the checkride as well.

    With all that said, there are some basic things the CFI just needs to know by memory. These basic tasks should not be looked up during the oral but answered to the best of your ability. If the examiner asks how lift is created, you should be fairly versed in the discussion on Newton’s second law and Bernoulli’s principle and the relationship between the two without looking that information up.

    Then again some examiners are very peculiar people and the best bet is to call before the checkride to see what they allow. You may even want to call the FSDO to see what their policy is.

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  5. Sam Dawson on Jan 18, 2014

    All have given good advise.
    The only thing I would add is that you know with the electronic FAR/AIM, PTS, etc that you have the most up to date information. If you look at the 2014 printed FAR/AIM I can pretty much guarantee the FARs are out of date; after February I can guarantee the AIM will be out of date.
    Again, find out the vagaries of the examiner. For example, TOMATOEFLAMES/GRABCARD are silly mnemonics that have gotten pilots violated, yet some examiners still insist you know them.

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