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Old 13th Dec 2012, 22:22   #1 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
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PPL skills test advice

Hello,

I'm finally booked in for my skills test next week after a majorly protracted PPL (started in 2008, various gaps due to personal problems).

Assuming the weather holds out and I can fly, I was wondering if anyone had any tips?

For example, on what kind of points can an applicant fail?

I currently have a couple of concerns with my flying. The main one is that I've had difficulty identifying built up areas during my navigation lessons. On my mock tests my instructor had to drop some small hints to help me (eg, there is a railway here, a lake there) and on one occassion had to correct my identification of a built up area when I was looking to work out my track error. Would any of this result in a fail on the real test?

I also had issues with practice forced landings without power. What is the examiner looking for with respect to these? Unfortunately during my final lesson practising these, the nature of the local area (built up) meant we couldn't take it too far down due to the 500ft rule and a lot of the tries weren't completed because of this, my instructor is happy with what I did do though.

If I do something to fail the test during the flight, will the examiner let me know immediately and cut the flight short? And in this scenario, what is it that I would have to repeat? For example, if I made a mistake with an approach/landing would I need to repeat the entire handling section of the test, including the parts I did well in, or would I only need to do some circuits with the examiner?

Any other advice/tips in general for the skills test would also be greatly appreciated!

Thanks again

Odai.

Last edited by Odai; 13th Dec 2012 at 22:24.
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Old 13th Dec 2012, 22:47   #2 (permalink)
 
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My advice is, if it all goes pete tong, just stay calm and fly the aircraft. On my skills test I failed to identify the village the examiner had asked for. I was uncertain of position, but managed to get a fix by using two VOR radials. I was convinced I had failed but, to my astonishment, the examiner passed me because he was happy that, even though I'd screwed up the nav, I'd remained calm and flown the aircraft, and managed to get things back on track.

Very best of luck with it.... You may be in that Cirrus sooner than you think

Last edited by taxistaxing; 13th Dec 2012 at 22:56.
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Old 13th Dec 2012, 23:26   #3 (permalink)
 
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My examiner told me after my test when we were chatting that basically what he looks for is would I let my family fly with this guy?

I wouldn't worry about making mistakes as such, it's how you react when you make them that counts.
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Old 14th Dec 2012, 00:34   #4 (permalink)
 
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Totally agree - as my instructor said, it as how you managed the situations that counted, I messed up a few things on my skills test but flew the aircraft safely, managed to find my way back to the home airfield and passed.

Main thing is fly the aircraft, navigate then communicate (that should be drilled into you) and dont be worried if something doesnt go to plan - if you are safe and carry on, its likely that you will get a pass with a long debrief. Try to stay confident dont get rattled if you go off track or you mess up the PFL. Just go back to flying.

The main thing is fly the aircraft and be safe and try not to get lost

Up to you, but my instrucor also told me to tell him what was going through my mind, so when I was trying to work out what town it was I was saying it out loud - he could then see my thought pattern, when doing the PFL I again said everything so it was clear what drills I was doing and what field I was aiming for - it helped me..

Good luck and enjoy - its the best feeling driving home after he gives you the thumbs up
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Old 14th Dec 2012, 00:57   #5 (permalink)
 
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The main thing is to not get too uptight and nervous (as easy as that may sound) all he is looking for is general safety, if your radio, general handling and landings are good you will have no problems.

The nav is as hard as you make it, but again you have to really screw up to fail on the nav i.e get totally lost and panic and not rectify it. Personally I'd would not have booked a test until you was sure you could nail the nav no problem just to make sure.
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Old 14th Dec 2012, 06:19   #6 (permalink)
 
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It's been posted so many times before but I still think it's worthwhile knowing: the train of thought the examiners usually have is "would I want to allow this pilot to fly my children" so safety and the ability to handle the plane is paramount - if you make a mistake, DON'T dwell on it, correct it, FLY the plane.

When I did my PFL, I totally forgot about taking wind direction into my calculations so came in way too fast for the field I had selected but instead of getting into a mess, just said "oops, am too high and fast, I'll go for that one over there instead" - at the end of the day, he's not expecting perfection, the learning curve of a pilot continues AFTER you pass your skills test and you start to expand your horizons, the examiner just wants to see that you are in control of the plane......

As for Nav, use all aids you have at your disposal to confirm to yourself you are where you believe you are - VRPs, VOR etc. Your preparation for the flight will help you too.......
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Old 14th Dec 2012, 07:57   #7 (permalink)
 
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Odai

I failed the NAV section on my PPL when I did it. I had to divert to Fenlans which is a small field in amongst a number of others, and isnt the easiest airfield to find. My mistake wasnt so much I couldnt find it, but that I didnt apply logic in identifying built up apear properly. I mistook one large town for another.

A good instructor I flew with subsequently told me to positively identify three things about the town or built up area you are trying to identify e.g. does that road running north.south correspond to the map?, does that river running east/west correspond with the map?, does that trainline to the southwest correspond with the map? There are many more examples using lakes, other towns, VRP's and so on. The point is dont take just one feature of that town and accept that is what you think it is on the map.

If you fail either the NAV or the General Handling, then you get a partial pass and you just do the failed part again another time. I found out on the way back after passing the general handling bit, but it wasnt a surprise really given my adventures around the Fenland area ;-)

Good luck though BTW :-)

Last edited by piperarcher; 14th Dec 2012 at 07:58.
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Old 14th Dec 2012, 09:29   #8 (permalink)
 
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Advice for the PPL skills test.

Basic advice- on your nav trip maintain the heading, altitude and airspeed as precisely as you can. If you do this (an assuming the wind forecast is accurate) you will not be blown of track and your ETAs will be precise. This means that you will not have to make any corrections. Making correction error calculation dn revising ETAs are fairly simple, but on your test I would just focus on flying it accurately. You want to make it as simple as you can and not have to make all sorts of corrections.

Also, tell the examiner what you are doing: ie, I am overhead Dunkeld, routing to Kelty and I estimate Kelty at time 34. Do this at the start of the leg and also at the 1/2 way point to keep him updated.

As for the PFL, this is the part most people fail on: Make sure you turn into wind and set your set up just as you would in a normal circuit (depending on height) again give the examiner a brief. If you find you are too low, do a quick engine warm here and there to give you an advantage. Remember it's best to stay high, then you can use flaps etc to get down quicker. REMEMBER THE EXAMINER MAY DO AN EFATO ON THE CLIMB OUT SO BE PREPARED!

Stalling- I think it's good airmanship to tell the examiner of the symptoms of the stall. Not only is he assessing your recovery techniques but he wants to make sure you can identify an on coming stall; ie high nose attitude, decaying airspeed, stick shaker. REMEMBER AND DO A HASEL CHECK!

Steep turns- quite easy, just make sure you do a good lookout.

VOR tracking- just make sure you tune and identify the VOR, again tell the examiner what radial you are on, the DME distance from the station and the ETA.


Also if you want to go the extra mile, ask the instructor his weight, give him a detailed pax brief and good take-off brief. When taxiing out, ask your examiner if he wishes to check his brakes.

Remember to read up on you aircraft general knowledge, some examiners come on the walk round with you so ask you various questions like oil type, transponder antenna, creep marks etc.

If you make a mistake, move on DO NOT get bogged down and assume you have failed.
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Old 14th Dec 2012, 10:01   #9 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Also if you want to go the extra mile, ask the instructor his weight, give him a detailed pax brief and good take-off brief.
Extra mile?? No, w&b and the briefs should be automatic. What I would say is to treat your examiner as a passenger who is asking to see certain aspects of flying, take the attitude that YOU are the captain (with the rider of course that if he calls "I have control" or TELLS you do do something he IS actually the boss).
If your instructor is happy then you should be ok.
Good luck and enjoy it
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Old 14th Dec 2012, 10:12   #10 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
I failed the NAV section on my PPL when I did it. I had to divert to Fenlans which is a small field in amongst a number of others, and isnt the easiest airfield to find. My mistake wasnt so much I couldnt find it, but that I didnt apply logic in identifying built up apear properly. I mistook one large town for another.
Piperarcher, Fenland is a very harsh target for a nav diversion! I flew in there over the summer. Found it okay (it's a lovely place) but when I departed I took off and turned to set course over the field, and realised I couldn't see it ... It took me a good few orbits before I was able to locate it again. Really difficult to spot as it's smaller than the surrounding fields, and doesn't have many resident aircraft.

Last edited by taxistaxing; 14th Dec 2012 at 10:50.
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Old 14th Dec 2012, 10:15   #11 (permalink)

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There's a lot of information in previous threads in this forum - search for "skills test".

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Old 14th Dec 2012, 10:39   #12 (permalink)

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When I did my PFL, I totally forgot about taking wind direction into my calculations
Draw the wind arrow on your map.
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Old 14th Dec 2012, 11:27   #13 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Piperarcher, Fenland is a very harsh target for a nav diversion!
It certainly is. I have been back a few times recently, and even though I am now armed with a GNS430, a NATS Aware Device and an iPad, I actually dont have any problems finding it visually without this equipment. I think thats partly because I am now 7 years more experienced, but also the aforementioned equipment and using VOR's etc means I am more relaxed during flight and have adapted my planning and flying to a way that suits me and reduces in flight workload.

Quote:
Draw the wind arrow on your map.
And note on the map the max drift at 2000ft and/or 5000ft so you can make fairly decent corrections in your head as go along. I find this easier than picturing a clock face on the DI and doing other maths in my head.
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Old 14th Dec 2012, 18:02   #14 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Draw the wind arrow on your map.
Two issues with that.

1) This assumes that you have a new map for each trip (or use crayons on laminated maps)

2) It also assumes that the wind will *never* change. As an average skills test takes 90 minutes, that means there is easy enough time for the wind to change direction.

The examiner isn't expecting perfection, just wants to see that the candidate is in full control of the plane.

As for EFATO, isn't that always on the cards? Have spoken to a few of my fellow pilots and all of them confirmed that, 500 - 700 feet up, the examiner called "engine failure", pulled the throttle back to idle and asked "what are you going to do now?"

But what is also good to refresh yourself with are your emergency procedures because the chances are, he will ask you the memory part of the lists - ie, what are you supposed to do if there is a fire, engine failure before take-off, etc....

Last edited by Steve6443; 14th Dec 2012 at 18:07.
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Old 14th Dec 2012, 19:21   #15 (permalink)

I'd rather be floating

 
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a new map for each trip
Well, you might think that using up a map for the skills test is worthwhile! Personally I use laminated maps, draw anything I like on them. (I'm told the RAF use a new map for each trip, just tear off the bit you're going to need.)

Oh, and when you're not using the DI bug for anything else, put the wind on there as well if you're expecting a PFL
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Old 14th Dec 2012, 23:53   #16 (permalink)
 
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Quote:

1) This assumes that you have a new map for each trip (or use crayons on laminated maps)

2) It also assumes that the wind will *never* change. As an average skills test takes 90 minutes, that means there is easy enough time for the wind to change direction.
1) most pilots in the UK use laminated (or print one off a computer program these days), so new ones no problem either way.
Personally I would not want to fly with a map that I could not at least draw my track on, and certainly teach putting on wind arrows and max drift.

2) Yes winds change, but not normally so much over the duration of a skills test (including the time to get off the ground) that it should be much of a problem, wind arrow is for guidance only anyway.

Last edited by foxmoth; 14th Dec 2012 at 23:57.
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Old 15th Dec 2012, 21:44   #17 (permalink)
 
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Many thanks everyone for all the great advice.

So would I be right in saying that even if I fail on one specific point in either the navigation or handling section I'd have to repeat that entire section, even if the rest of the exercises are done well?

Last edited by Odai; 15th Dec 2012 at 21:45.
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Old 15th Dec 2012, 23:22   #18 (permalink)
 
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Stop panicking and do it. You'll be OK.
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Old 16th Dec 2012, 07:53   #19 (permalink)
 
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PPL skills test advice

Couldn't they do afato during circuit stage?

Cant remember if mine was done on circuits or EFATO

Either way, your instructor would not let you go if he didn't think you are safe and competent. Its normal to doubt what you know in nervous situations. Rest knowing the above, if your instructor sent people who were not ready, the examiners would be having chats with him/her
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Old 16th Dec 2012, 17:09   #20 (permalink)
 
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One tip I was given when I did my skills test was that when making radio contact with ATC or seeking an information service I should identify myself as:

"G-XXXX student pilot on skills test"

All those I spoke to on the radio that day were very helpful.

Best of luck!
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