FAA commercial requirements…

… or how to waste some money.

Firstly I’d like to tell about FAA check-ride situation in Florida: a lot of flight schools, a lot of students, and only 5 DPEs. On practice it means that usually one have to wait for a checkride more than a month. We are a little bit lucky, because DPE works in our school, and if somebody cancels, we have a priority. Of course one can apply for a FAA examiner, but waiting time is even longer. Usually much longer.

So, I met my commercial requirements according to FAR 61.129 about a week and a half ago, and scheduled a checkride. I was lucky, somebody had a cancellation, and I was expecting a checkride July 16. And on Tuesday somebody canceled a checkride on 12th of July, and I took that slot. That is I expected my commercial checkride today. It did not happen. It has stopped even before we started an oral part, during a logbook analysis.

So, what happened? We see the following in FAR 61.129:

(i) Ten hours of instrument training using a view-limiting device including attitude instrument flying, partial panel skills, recovery from unusual flight attitudes, and intercepting and tracking navigational systems. Five hours of the 10 hours required on instrument training must be in a single engine airplane;

During my instrument training I got 38, and I considered that I’m done with that. But the examiner used this and this FAA letters. In the first one we can see that 61.65 training hours (i. e. towards instrument rating) do not qualify towards 61.129 requirements (commercial). The opposite works. The letter is for helicopter rating, but nevermind, for airplanes we have the same. The second letter says that the training can qualify, but it should meet 61.129 requirements. I. e. if CFII explicitly adds that in the logbook during your instrument, you are safe. But the problem is that I was on a part 141 during my instrument. It is a structured training with an approved syllabus. Nobody mentioned anything about 61.129. Actually standards are the same, and training is the same. But legally it does not work without mention of 61.129. And DPE’s position – I need 10 hours more instrument time (dual) after 141 instrument program.

Possibly it was naive, but I supposed to have almost exactly 250h TT before my checkride. It does not happen now. So, let’s fly more. I hope I will have a long cross-country tomorrow (the concern is the weather…). Later I just have to plan ahead more carefully. During my commercial training I had a small doubt about this requirement, but I did not paid attention on it, neither my CFI did.

So, I need more hours, my checkride shifts by some days, and I cannot even imagine when I can have my multi checkride. Flight hours are OK, they always matter, but I am disappointed about longer time.

P. S. when I already realized that I don’t fly today, I figured out that the airplane for our checkride have only 1 hour before 100h inspection. Somebody flew a cross-country yesterday night.

EASA PPL Written Exam

Today I passed the rest of my written exam subjects. There is a nice point: retaking it is totally free. I supposed that I have to pay for all attempts, but I was wrong, in Czech you pay only once.

This time the exam was easy for me. I was better prepared, I knew what to expect, and I went through all of questions in aeroweb.cz. Nevertheless, I am happy that I read the books. I heard that every pilot should do that not just for passing an exam but for solid knowledge, and I am totally agree with that.

Today I saw some students from Hong Kong with graduation certificates from “Flying Academy”. As I know, they did not pass all subjects from the first attempt. Unfortunately I did not have enough time to ask about that school.

I am happy that now I can study in English! ATPL subjects are approximately the same in all EASA countries, but PPL varies significantly. The exam questions in Czech are perfect, but there is a lack of evaluation tools in English before the exam. British resources does not work: you can have average 95% result there and still fail that subject in Czech. British books help though. Nevertheless, now I am on the ATPL track in terms of theory. I believe that ATPL books and Question Banks match the questions in all EASA countries. Of course, I am not talking about FAA: English is native there. I still did not make a final decision about EASA vs FAA track.

Necessity

A summary of my day: I got my medical certificate, and passed ICAO English. I am happy! =)

So, here are some explanations. Everybody has to be healthy to fly. It means that one should pass a medical. There are three types of certificates. From the most strict to less: the first class (the most strict and expensive) for commercial and airline pilots, the second class for private pilots and the third class for air traffic controllers (and, possibly, light sport airplane pilots, I don’t remember it exactly).

The first class can be obtained only in a special clinic (for example, there is only one in Czech Republic, or about three in Poland). The second and the third one is available from designated doctors with special accreditation. At least in Czech Republic the first class medical requires booking an appointment in advance, at least before two weeks. And the price is pretty high. The second class is faster and way cheaper. So, for now I decided to make the second one.

The inspection is thorough, but relatively fast: about an hour for everything. And now I have the document.

Some time later I discovered that I can do the first class in Poland. It is available just as a walk-in, and somewhat cheaper than in Czech. There are all inspections including spirometry, blood analysis etc., and the whole time is more than two hours. It is a bit strange: every country has its own regulations, procedures and prices, even though it is an EASA…

ICAO English is simple. If you can read, speak and understand English, and don’t have any problems with PPL theory (mainly terminology), everything is easy. I don’t say something new: there are tons of books, videos and offline classes. Possibly it requires some practice for fast understanding ATIS/AWOS, but nothing special. Anyway, I have less upcoming paperwork now 🙂