Welcome Guest. Sign in or Signup

4 Answers

Checkride for PPL

Asked by: 2025 views Student Pilot

I have been taking lessons at a field that can have very challenging, unpredictable  winds, due to its position along a mountain range, canyons on 2 sides, etc.  It can change from a left crosswind to calm to a right crosswind, all in the last 20 seconds of a landing.   Not unusual from pattern to see 3 windsocks all pointing in different directions.  It has taken me a long time to develop any confidence at all with my landings, and now my CFI is saying it's time to schedule my checkride.  Looking at the Standards for landings, I wonder if I'm setting myself up for a failure by trying to do my practical here.  I've been concentrating on doing safe landings or making the call to go around.  Suppose on my practical, my touchdown is past 400 ft of my specified point - failure, right, even if I've had to correct for unexpected wind changes in those last few seconds?  Would I be better off scheduling the exam for an airport 30 miles away out on the flats,  where I've done some touch-n-go's in the past, but it is just not very familiar?  Anyone's thoughts on the pros & cons of changing airports for the exam?  

4 Answers

  1. Aaron on Jul 07, 2014

    In my experiences examiners always use discretion on things like that. Those standards are more of an “ideal conditions” thing, so while you should aim to get as close as you can, the examiner will usually understand if you can’t make it happen… USUALLY. Again, every one is different and the standards are technically the standards, so any one could hold you accountable, but examiners are human and understand that conditions can vary and make things difficult. As long as you fly your best and come reasonably close to what is asked, you should be fine.

    Heck, I didn’t even land on my instrument ride. It was gusting 41kts (right down the runway) by the time we came back in and the examiner took the plane. I thought I failed, but he said “you did great! Just figured better to have someone more experienced take this one…. for safety.” With a wink: I.e. I don’t get to do these fun landings much anymore so let me give it a shot. Good luck buddy, you’ll do great and welcome to the skies!!!

    0 Votes Thumb up 0 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

  2. Mark Kolber on Jul 07, 2014

    Aaron is right about Examiners. They can be different. On the assumptions that (a) your CFI is the one choosing the Examiner and (b) your CFI has experience with him or her, your CFI is really the one to ask thins question.

    On the “other airport” more generally, I did my private checkride at a airport “where I’ve done some touch-n-go’s in the past, but it is just not very familiar.” So it’s certainly doable (my landings where nothing to brag about).

    On the discretion of Examiners – on his private checkride, a student of mine encountered very strong crosswinds when returning to the airport; may even have exceeded the demonstrated crosswind component of the 172 he flew. He told the Examiner if he encountered that at his present skill level, he would ask for the other runway (it was a towered airport) or go find a another airport and wait it out. Examiner loved the answer and, recognizing the theoretically improper ‘teaching moment’ offered to land in the crosswind together with my student.

    0 Votes Thumb up 0 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

  3. Kris Kortokrax on Jul 09, 2014


    The PTS states: “The tolerances represent the performance expected in good flying
    conditions.” Not “ideal conditions”. They are not based on a bluebird day with no wind and no thermal activity.

    The PTS also states that Unsatisfactory Performance consists in part of:
    “Consistently exceeding tolerances stated in the Objectives.” and
    “Failure to take prompt corrective action when tolerances are exceeded.”

    No examiner should fail you for exceeding a particular tolerance, if you are aware of the problem and make a timely correction. The examiner may ask to see a maneuver repeated if he has questions about your ability to fly it within tolerances.

    There is a provision for coping with unforecast adverse weather. It is the Letter of Discontinuance. The applicant may at any time decide to discontinue the practical test for reasons such as weather, illness or mechanical issues. The examiner issues the letter and the practical test can be finished at a later time.

    Regarding using a different airport, go ahead. Your certificate is not issued limiting you to the airport at which you learned to fly. It allows you to fly to any airport in the world. Your performance during flight and while landing at an unfamiliar airport should not differ significantly from your performance at your training airport. (Of course, we all know there are some airports in the world that present very challenging environments. Whether to attempt flight to these airports should be assessed considering all variables, including your skill level).


    Your examiner should not have issued the instrument rating certificate if you did not land the airplane. Landing from a straight-in or circling approach is a required maneuver. You did not complete the practical test. If the wind was forecast, perhaps the test should have been postponed. If the wind was unforecast, the test should have been discontinued and completed when the conditions were better. Expedience is not a reason to short cut the system.

    0 Votes Thumb up 0 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

  4. Aaron on Jul 09, 2014

    It was a 141 check ride, but I definitely agree with you! I’m still surprised at how easy I got off on that one… I did 1 normal GPS and one Partial panel GPS approach. I talked him through a hold and that was it.

    0 Votes Thumb up 0 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

Answer Question

Our sincere thanks to all who contribute constructively to this forum in answering flight training questions. If you are a flight instructor or represent a flight school / FBO offering flight instruction, you are welcome to include links to your site and related contact information as it pertains to offering local flight instruction in a specific geographic area. Additionally, direct links to FAA and related official government sources of information are welcome. However we thank you for your understanding that links to other sites or text that may be construed as explicit or implicit advertising of other business, sites, or goods/services are not permitted even if such links nominally are relevant to the question asked.