Other Small Errors
Lately I have had applicants turn the wrong way on a parallel entry to a published hold. What’s wrong? You’re just going to turn the plane around and go back to the fix, so why does it matter which way you turn? It matters because of protected airspace. You should turn toward the holding side, where the “racetrack” is depicted. On the holding side a very large chunk of airspace is protected (safe to fly in at the published altitude), but on the non-holding side the protected corridor is relatively narrow. A strong wind or a heading error could put you in an unsafe position.
Voice communication errors sometimes crop up. The first one is dropping the plane to fly the mic. Just because the controller instructs you to report crossing a certain fix doesn’t mean you have to report the instant you get there. Fly the plane first. For example, when flying the ILS for 23 into Columbus the tower will often instruct us to “report CLIFS (the FAF) inbound”. But when you get to CLIFS that’s about where you intercept the glideslope and start down. Pitch and power have to be adjusted, maybe approach flaps added and/or the gear lowered. There’s a lot to do. Your defense is once again the 6 T’s. Do them. Fly the plane. TALK is the 5th T. The previous 4 T’s have to do with flying the plane. Do them first. The controller in the $600 leather chair sitting in an air-conditioned room will wait while you fly, bouncing around in the rain. He is trained to do so. He knows that when you report CLIFS inbound you are actually half a mile past the fix. That’s expected and OK. But you can’t get so caught up in flying and navigating that you get stuck on one of the earlier T’s and never get all the way to #5 and make your call. The ability to do all these things, in the proper sequence and in a reasonable amount of time, is what the examiner is looking for to determine that the applicant is ready for instrument flight without an instructor beside him.
When filing a flight plan, for real or simulated with the examiner, the only thing the applicant should be reading off are the things she wrote with her pen; NOT the block titles. The Flight Service person knows the block titles, and they are right there on the screen in front of him anyway. The information in the Route block should not include the departure or destination points. Route is what happens in between the departure and destination. It is not usually necessary to give airport or VOR identifiers phonetically; just the spoken given name will do nicely. If the airport is really obscure (doesn’t have an IFR approach) then you will probably have to furnish the identifier.
When performing an instrument approach or holding in a strong wind I’m looking for the applicant to have situational awareness and set up some sort of appropriate wind correction angle as they intercept the desired course. If they simply roll out on the published heading and then wait to get blown away, thus requiring some major maneuvering to get back on course, I’m once again wondering if they are ready to hold an instrument rating. I recently did a checkride where the surface wind was only 10 or 12 knots, but the winds aloft at 3000 were 35 knots. For the hold we had a right quartering headwind. It ended up that the outbound time needed to be literally zero seconds, and a 45-degree inbound wind correction angle was required. Be prepared to do whatever it takes.
If I ask an applicant if their airplane has any anti-icing or deicing capability and I immediately get told “no” then I’m quite sure they aren’t willing to think about the plane they are flying and probably won’t react properly when they inadvertently get into an icing situation. Even the simplest IFR-capable airplanes have 3 anti-icing or deicing systems; carb heat (or alternate air), pitot heat, and windshield defrost. Systems knowledge is important for instrument flight.
Recovery from unusual attitude is no longer required to be partial panel but one partial-panel non-precision approach still must be flown. That involves turns to a heading using only the wet compass. There are two ways to do that; estimating lead-lag and timed turns. Since the estimate method is woefully inaccurate most pilots do timed turns. Good choice, much better results. But I find that a lot of applicants don’t know that there is no lead-lag error on headings of East or West. For practical purposes you can turn to headings of 80 to 100 and 260 to 280 directly on the wet compass; no need for timing.