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7 Answers

Problems with flight instructor

Asked by: 1943 views FAA Regulations, Student Pilot

The other day with my flight instructor I was put into a situation, which concerned me. The objective was to practice IR for private pilot rating. Immediately after takeoff I was instructed to mount my view limiting device (in this case a plastic hood.) I then initiated positive control procedures by asking "do you have the flight controls" I was surprised when I was told "No" and then I was chastised for not putting the hood on before takeoff, and told that during the practical exam the examiner is not required to hold the flight controls while I put on my hood. I of course asked how I was expected to taxi and takeoff with the hood on, and I was told that I should have it on and move it up out of view. I just said OK!! Because I did not have enough information to argue the point not to mention I had more important things to deal with. 

I have not found a regulation one-way or the other but,

I question the accuracy and soundness of mind of this statement, number one because I see this is a safety issue for a few reasons.

-A flight instructor refusing to take control of the aircraft because "an examiner may do that"

-Even if the hood is out of view initially it has the potential to fall and block the view of the primary controller of the aircraft during a critical time and close to the ground.

-It is an added unnecessary distraction for an inexperienced pilot.

-Even if up and out of view the device could create unnecessary blind spots.

Further more

-It is unpractical

-It is unnecessary considering a safety pilot is required during this type of training who is capable of acting as PIC.


I am already taking action to find another program because this is not the first issue I have had with this instructor/the program, but this raised a serious concern for me. I wonder if I should just continue ignore it or how I should address it.

Thank you


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7 Answers

  1. Jim F. on Oct 15, 2012

    DO NOT continue to ignore issues with a CFI. Doing so can not only cost you money (cost me about 3k), but also has the potential to become a very dangerous situation for you, other pilots, your pax, and people on the ground. Either work to resolve the issues, or get a new CFI.

    Now to the view-limiting device issue: I’m unaware of any regulation requiring the DPE to not touch the controls. On my private, instrument, and commercial check-rides, the DPE’s words were always to the effect of, “My aircraft, you’re in the clouds.” We would obviously do the positive exchange of controls “chant.”

    My private DPE did offer a little insight into this during our oral briefing. He stated that as DPE, he would act and be treated as a non-pilot passenger at all times, unless otherwise initiated by him. The two times this would come into play would be when donning my view-limiting device, and if/when he felt I was being too unsafe to continue the check-ride. Obviously the second didn’t happen, but the first was guaranteed to happen from the beginning.

    That being said, it’s really not that difficult to remain in control while donning the view-limiting device. Just make sure you’re trimmed out, and be ready to always drop what you’re doing and grab the controls. Another easy option is to get the JeppShades: http://www.sportys.com/pilotshop/product/9407 They flip up to get out of your way. Now I never put them on prior to takeoff, but they are very helpful for doing an instrument approach, where you don’t have the time to take them off before landing.

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  2. MaggotCFII on Oct 16, 2012

    The situation that you describe in paragraph 1, describes harassment and safety of flight issues.

    “Fire” this instructor.

    Find one that has a positive personality and who provides positive/challenging instruction.

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  3. Bob Watson on Oct 16, 2012

    As a private pilot, you are the PIC, even with an instructor or a DPE in the plane. Don’t forget that! If the CFI (or ATC or an insistent passenger, etc.) asks you to do something you don’t feel is safe, your response need only be, “unable.”

    In this example, the CFI should have briefed you before takeoff (ideally, way before, but no later than the run-up). While taxiing and taking off with the hood on but up might create some blind spots, before you put the hood on (in VMC), you should make sure the person sitting next to you is ready, willing, and able to assume the duties of your safety pilot. This could be on the runway or taxiway, but only if you’ve agreed in advance.

    Now, if this was a practice check ride, and the CFI told you that you should have your hood ready as you would for the check ride then both of you should have figured out how to do this before the flight. Either way, the request should not have been a surprise to you. It sounds like one of you just wasn’t ready for this–either your CFI forgot to tell you how this works on a check ride, or you forgot, or you didn’t understand the nature of the lesson.

    Either way it sounds like one or both of you learned something from this.

    While it’s easy to be an armchair quarterback, I think you should discuss your concerns with the instructor and, if necessary, the flight school’s chief instructor. That can be intimidating, but just stick to the matter at hand: You would like to be briefed on things that could effect the flight before you take off, because if you feel a request is unsafe at the moment (i.e. you’re surprised), you’ll have to deny it. You don’t want to have any misunderstandings in flight whether you’re alone talking to ATC, with a CFI, with a passenger, or with a DPE.

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  4. Sam Dawson on Oct 16, 2012

    1. I would say discuss the concerns with the CFI. The training is about you, not the CFI.
    2. Later in training I will be “uncooperative” with the student to see how they react to the situation. For example, I could see myself putting you in the scenario you described to see how you handle the distraction. Will you trim the airplane and put on your foggles (should be fairly easy to do)? Will you ask me to wait a moment until you feel you are at a safer altitude, then comply? The inability to deal with distractions while still flying the airplane is one of the great killers in aviation.
    One of the difficult things to evaluate is how a student will react to distractions and tough situations. For this reason I like to take pre-solo pilots who train at non-towered airports to a towered airport prior to solo- just to see how they will react to “curve balls” thrown by ATC. I actually had a student on his first solo have to deal with a blimp flying through the traffic pattern on the wrong frequency. Can’t make up stuff like that.

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  5. Noelia Terrazas on Oct 16, 2012

    Thanks to everyone for the prospective. I have considered all the information presented and developed a solution, which I feel, works best for my situation. Being former military I am completely familiar with adding distractions progressively in training and I think it is a great idea regardless of the seriousness of the training. I am also familiar with the difference between an “expert” and a professional. My interim solution has been stop using this instructor since his method of communication and my method of understand are incompatible. The ultimate solution is to take my business elsewhere after completing my private rating. Upon leaving I will submit a formal complaint describing in detail my experience with this instructor. I know some of you have said to discuss it with the instructor but since communication is an issue it seems futile, and past experience has shown me it is not always wise to make waves while in the pool.

    I am truly grateful for the feedback and the time you all spend to read my post and respond.

    Thank you all again.

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  6. Matthew Waugh on Oct 16, 2012

    Late to the game, but unless your (sounds like ex) instructor knows something very specific about a local DPE – they’re nuts.

    I concur with the other suggestions – you’re the customer, go find somebody who understands that, sounds like your (I guess ex) instructor didn’t get that relationship. Unfortunately I wonder how many people this instructor has chased out of aviation already and how many to come.

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  7. Noelia Terrazas on Oct 16, 2012

    To answer your question Matthew I do not think so, because in the time I have been here the commonly used DPE has changed and the remarks remain the same. One thing that occurred to me yesterday was the most common words used by this guy are Won’t Can’t, Don’t. In fact the only time he says will is when describing a mistake one of us WILL make. With the amount of focus he places on failing not just the PT but the knowledge exam I am surprised he has any students pass. Like I said before his communication is not compatible with me. Sense Communication is a two way street I will take my share of responsibility. The problem is the way this school works I risk cutting back my already low amount of flight time per week by refusing to use all available instructors. That it s big part of the reason I will change school when I finnish this rating. I am looking at Chandler Gilberts, or ASU’s Program in Arizona. Any one have thought on that? Thank you for your concern and taking the time to comment.

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