EASA Instrument Checkride

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I completed my competency-based instrument rating course and recently got my night rating. The examiner was able to squeeze my exam into his schedule on Sunday, and the weather was perfect, so I had my checkride today.

It was my second attempt since previously the attitude indicator failed in the school Cessna 172, and we were not able to make a flying part.

The practical part seemed less difficult than in the US. There were some important moments though: for example, in Czech Republic transition altitude is only at 5000 feet, and usually students have to change the altimeter setting during the checkride.

We flew from Roudnice to Karlovy Vary and back: LKROLKKV-LKRO. Our airport is uncontrolled, so we picked up our IFR clearance in the air after take-off. This time instead of following my route I had vectors from the ATC. The important part is switching to the standard pressure after 5000 feet. We climbed to FL80.

Before and during the descent it is important to switch the altimeter to QNH before that transition level, make an approach briefing, set the avionics and get the weather. I got the ILS29 approach, and then GNSS11 with circle-to-land for 29. After the approaches I had to depart visually and climb to FL80 again even though we flew to the East – ATC assigned that level for some reason. Since we were in a piper, I had to switch tanks, and it’s better to have some airport in sight while doing that just in case.

The rest was pretty straightforward: descent, cancelling IFR clearance, closing IFR flight plan and visual landing.

I outlined the following important moments:

  • DO NOT forget about a transition altitude and transition level! In the US we usually fly below them, but in Czech Republic transition altitude is generally at 5000 feet;
  • do not forget about the second altimeter when changing altimeter setting! Forgetting to do that will be a fail;
  • my examiner asked to set both NAV1 and NAV2 for the ILS approach. I used to set NAV2 for the missed approach, but Karlovy Vary does not have a VOR for a go-around, so better to not waste NAV2 and use it for a cross-check;
  • request for descent could be made without desired altitude which means that we prepare for landing according to the flight plan and leaving the assigned flight level;
  • circle-to-land must be made by timing only, not just staying in the safe area with a runway in sight;
  • don’t forget to report departure time during flight plan activation in the air;
  • it is essential to make a start-up request at a controlled aerodrome;
  • IFR clearance should be requested before taxiing;
  • non-precision approach can be made using the DME or GPS for measuring distance to the airport instead of timing;
  • DME is pretty common in Czech Republic;
  • always fly the airplane: keep the course and altitude, follow the glideslope, never fly below DA/MDA without 100% assurance of safe landing, properly estimate holding entry, know the airplane instruments of the particular airplane.

Basically the checkride went as a usual flight. It is even possible to get the examiner involved – for example, ask to set the second altimeter. But in that case it is also essential to check that it was really set properly – some examiners could check your PIC skills by intentionally failing some tasks 🙂

I also prefer to verbally comment all my actions. It clearly shows the intentions and situational awareness. It could also highlight wrong decisions though, but I suppose that it will help in future while acting as a crew member. For example, some of my basic callouts were “airspeed alive”, “positive rate, no runway – gear up”, “we have L, QNH 1016, RW in use 29, slight headwind, no crosswind”, “gas – left, undercarriage – gear down, mixture – full rich, props – full forward, seatbelts – fastened, please check yours”.

As a result, I have the fresh EASA Instrument Rating 🙂

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