The Check Ride – Part 2

The Check Ride (Continued)

The FAA has a lot of rules and regulations (who knew???) for designated pilot examiners to follow and sure enough, my guy did his job by the book.  He was really friendly, and I especially liked the part about how “perfection is not the standard” that is required to pass the check ride, and he did it by the numbers.

He used a checklist, a plan of action, and stuck to the practical test standards.  The first thing that he had me do was fill out the answer to 15 or 20 questions on a piece of paper while he went through my log books, endorsements, and 8710 form.  These questions were a combination of a quick knowledge test, pre-flight, and prep for some of the maneuvers during the examination.  I didn’t get to keep a copy of the test, but here is the gist of what the test looked like, and how I answered the questions.

Pre-check ride test:

1. We are on the ground at Mammoth California, its 93′F and the barometric pressure is 30.03.  What’s the pressure altitude and the density altitude?

I looked up mammoth in the facility directory and its published altitude is 7,135 feet.  I converted 93′F to 33.9 degrees Celsius and plugged these numbers into my Sporty’s electronic E6-B.  I wrote down 7,025 feet for the pressure altitude and 10,634 feet for the density altitude.

2. What is the empty weight of this aircraft?

I’d memorized that one from the data sheet, but I checked the empty weight of the airplane on the most recent weight and balance sheet and that said 2,743 pounds

3.  What is the payload of this aircraft?

Here I stalled for a second.  I couldn’t remember if payload assumed that you had full fuel before you loaded the airplane or if it was the weight of everything that you could put in the airplane to accomplish the mission.  Ultimately, I decided that useful load and payload were probably synonyms, so I wrote down 1,257 pounds (max gross on the BE-95 is 4,000 pounds).  After the test I looked it up, and the FAR’s specify that the payload is the weight of all the stuff you can put in the airplane: fuel, crew, food, etc.

4.  The examiner weighs 200 pounds.  With you in the pilot seat and the examiner in the co-pilot’s seat, where is the CG for this flight?

I used the worksheet for weight and balance from Sheble’s pre-flight packet to calculate the answer to this question, and it came out to 78.64.  Here’s the worksheet and the graph of the weight and balance envelope.

The Check ride  

5.  What is the zero fuel weight CG?

Ok, no problem here.  I took out all of he fuel and re-calculated the CG.  This is not a configuration that you can take off in, for a couple of reasons.  The most important of which is that with no fuel, you won’t even make it out of the runup area, so that’s why the empty weight is off the chart of the center of gravity limits (and screwed up the x axis on my cool little microsoft excel spreadsheet).


6.  What is the accelerate and stop distance for this aircraft in the take off configuration?

This is a question that is worth asking.  The typical accelerate and stop distance chart takes into consideration pressure or density altitude, weight, and flap settings, but in the case of this aircraft, the charts that were published in later versions of the POH are pretty simple.  This chart is used to calculate the accelerate and stop distance chart to figure out how much RUNWAY WE NEED TO ACCELERATE TO A CERTAIN SPEED AND STOP.  This chart graphs the velocity as a function of distance, but it is based upon a gross weight configuration at SEA LEVEL — Not at a density altitude of 10,000 feet!!!!

For this part of the examination I explained that using this chart we could estimate that we would need a minimum of 2,675 feet to accelerate to 90 mph (the speed of rotation), experience an engine failure, and safely stop the airplane with maximum braking.  I also explained that in all likelihood, the distance required at 10,000 feet + of density altitude is likely to be much, much, longer, but we just don’t have enough data to answer the question with reference to material published by Beechcraft.

7.  What is the distance for a normal performance take-off?

The actual chart in the Sheble packet is a little more simple than this one, but I couldn’t covert it into an electronic version, so here is the basic idea using a more recent light twin chart.  In this chart, we start with the density altitude, which for a hot day at mammoth is off the charts and we move up the chart until we hit the curve in the first panel.  Then we move over to the right to intersect the lines for weight and move along that line until with get to 3795 pounds.  Then we move sideways along the chart to account for the wind and in this instance its hot and still at mammoth and there is no wind blowing down the runway.

Luckily, Mammoth doesn’t have any obstacles at the departure end of the runway (heading south) so we don’t have to figure in a climb over an obstacle, so that gives us a take off distance of 3,500 feet.  I showed the examiner my work and explained that this figure is going to underestimate the amount of runway needed since we don’t have data for density altitudes over 8,000 feet — and he seemed satisfied.  Really, if you passed the commercial knowledge test, you should be able to get through these ones pretty well.

twin engine normal take off

The next for questions were all along the same lines, and if you can use these charts and explain your reasoning and the limitations of these charts then you should do fine on this portion of the oral.  Here’s and example of the next four questions:

8.  What is the expected rate of climb after take-off?
9.  What is the single engine rate of climb at this altitude?
10.  What is the normal landing distance at this altitude?
11.  What is the max performance take off distance at this altitude?

There were a couple of questions that seemed to come out of the blue.  For example,

12.  What are the positive and negative G limits of this aircraft?  I had to think about this one for a minute.  Finally I decided I’d just put down the positive and negative G limits for a normal category airplane, which are +3.8 G and -1.0 G.


I finished the written part of the exam and we went through the maintenance records for the airplane.  Sheble does a great job of preparing a packet with all of the relevant pages of the aircraft logs photocopied so I was able to show him the relevant pages with the most recent ANNUAL, most recent 100 HR, most recent ELT, and most recent AD compliance checklist.  Your instructor will go through how this system works with you and my examiner seemed more than satisfied with the maintenance status of the airplane.  After we finished going over the records we got right into the oral part of the examination.  After a few pretty easy questions about the type of engines, how feathering works, etc., we started talking about single engine performance.  At this point, I almost spun it into the ground.  My examiner described a scenario in which we’ve just rotated, are 50′ AGL, the gear is still down but there is no runway remaining, and an engine fails.  I’d memorized the POWER UP, CLEAN UP, IDENTIFY, VERIFY, and FEATHER mantra and practiced it so many times but somehow at this point I started talking about running the checklist for restarting the engine.  After seriously nearly convincing my examiner that I had no idea what I was talking about I picked up on the non-verbal cues and committed to feathering the engine to minimize the drag, forgetting about trying to restart it, and start figuring out where to land with one engine.

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