Autopilot use on CFII checkride


Well-Known Member
So I have my CFII ride tomorrow.

The PTS states that the applicant is expected to use FMS/autopilot to aid managing the aircraft, and that the examiner must test the applicant on at least one non-precision approach.

To what extent do you think it would be wise/acceptable to use the autopilot? Would you try to use it as much as possible until the DE tells you otherwise?
Check the handbook for the autopilot as it may have limitations for approaches. Also read up in the Instrument Procedures Handbook about the Autopilot. If you have an up to date IPH it is on page 5-28.

If the approach has FD/autopilot limitations, use it to that point.
I would start using it within it's limitations untill he/she tells you otherwise. In the Cessna 400 (I never know what to call it anymore) is an autopilot airplane, too touchy to handfly most of the time. Tell him/her "lazy pilots make good pilots because they use all the tools the airplane has to their advantage."
I would say, be able to use it but don't expect to use it.

I don't know too many DPEs that would even let you turn it on.
It's a CFII ride. An =instructor= ride. Y'know - a ride where you're supposed to be showing the DPE that you know how to teach instrument flight?

The autopilot already hows how to fly. It probably flies better than you do. What are you going to teach it?

There's obviously a role for showing the DPE that you know how to teach the use of the autopilot and I'd expect that the more complex the airplane (from a TAA standpoint) the more important teaching autopilot use will be and the more autopilot teaching I'd expect the DPE will be looking for.

But aside from that, I'd be quite surprised if most "teach me how to ..." questions during the ride would involve substantial autopilot use, and the chances are that the question will let you know either way.
To what extent do you think it would be wise/acceptable to use the autopilot? Would you try to use it as much as possible until the DE tells you otherwise?

I would say ask him, but if you plan to ask that you better be prepared. You should have your auto pilots handbook and be ready to answer any questions about it. Most DPEs I don't think would care, but if you get the one that happens to have a personal aircraft with that autopilot you would be in for a world of hurt if you only knew how to turn it on.
If it's there, know how to use it for an instrument checkride; know how to teach using it for a CFII check. When I was giving checkrides to IPs, I'd have them teach the basic modes and how to utilize the autopilot, as they would a student in the plane, especially since the plane was very autopilot dependant. I didn't need them to know how to build the autopilot, just how to use it, and by extention, techniques for teaching same.

For guys doing instrument checkrides, initial or recurrent, they could use the autopilot to their hearts desire. However, any mistake the autopilot makes that is more than just a "momentary deviation", they (the human pilot) buys it.
I just did an Assistant Chief checkride with the FSDO at the end of last year. He wanted me to show him how to use the autopilot in a GPS approach with a hold in lieu of PT and do the full procedure with the GPS, including one lap in the holding pattern. So definitely know how to use it in every scenario you will be flying in, but don't expect to use it.
Thanks for the responses.

Got a letter of discontinuance do to crappy weather.

I am very comfortable using and teaching how to use the different modes of the autopilot. It just seems to me that most of instrument flying is procedure based, and you can demonstrate tracking a radial, how to set up a hold or an approach or whatever using the AP or hand flying it, the procedure is the same.

I'll ask what he wants to see from me on my flight.