CFI Initial - Notice of Disapproval - Still waiting...

Silverhawkpmm

Well-Known Member
Hello everyone... I wanted to run this by the JC community to see if I am missing something. I began CFI Initial checkride in early August and am still waiting for DPE to complete the checkride after receiving a Notice of Disapproval.

The somewhat brief background:

Clue #1: FOI

I scheduled the checkride with a DPE per the instructions of the local FSDO. Was all ready to go, however, a few days before the scheduled date my DPE called and said I had to go take the FOI. I hadn't taken the FOI because the regs seemed to indicate that being a university professor provide an option to skip this exam for the CFI Initial. I figured there was no reason to push back given they were giving me the checkride.... .. no problem.-- a week later I took the exam - passed with a 98%. Done... let's roll.

Clue #2. All Knowing CFI

Though I had completed the whole big CFI binder, I set it aside as I prefer to teach with a simple tabbed outline in a binder in front of me that includes key topics just to make sure I cover everything I want to include in each lesson. It's just an outline... there is no content included. I've been teaching that way for the past 18 years, so that is how I prepared for the checkride. When the initial checkride day finally came, and we got through all the requisite paperwork, we got rolling. All was going along well until the DPE said "You know... the CFI is considered the PhD of aviation... you should know all of this stuff cold... you need to quit reading your notes and close the binder in front of you"

At that point I simply closed the binder as I did not want to get into a philosophical debate about the fact that nobody knows "everything"... but they need to be able to admit they don't know something or know where to find the answer. That's basic leadership / management 101.

Clue #3 Notice of Disapproval

The next 4 hours, from my perspective, went relatively smoothly. I answered or taught concepts for each of the areas within the PTS... had a few questions that I stumbled upon... then we got to the National Airspace System. The DPE said I should teach the NAS in about 15 minutes... well... prior to the checkride... I must have rehearsed this section time and again and I compressed things to about 20-25 minutes... anyhow... I completed that section and the DPE leaned back and asked if I had covered everything. I immediately knew that I had missed something but for the life of me I couldn't figure it out.

The DPE gave me a few minutes to look at the board and see if I could come up with what I was missing... then finally said... "well... you know what direction we are heading in here". To which I replied... "Well... I know that I am missing something you are looking for... and I am unable at this time to figure out what that is" The DPE then said that he is going to have to give me a Notice of Disapproval and that I would have to retest just for the NAS and the Maneuver lesson. Everything else was good to go.

I had asked what I missed... and the DPE said that I failed to talk about the airspeed limitation below 10k and below class B airspace. Though I was totally bummed... I did in fact for whatever reason totally drop the ball on that element within the lesson. On the upside... I did ok enough to pass the previous 4.5 hour oral so all I needed to do is reteach NAS, the maneuver, and go fly!

Clue #4. The Traveling DPE

Since the end of August, I have been trying to reschedule with the DPE given that I had 60 days before my efforts essentially expired. Well... the problem is, that the DPE has been traveling the country doing checkrides to help catch up from COVID. On on hand, I totally understand the situation we are in with the backlog, and understand the DPE's ability to earn some additional revenue in the process... but shouldn't the DPE also be committed to finishing the checkrides they begin?

It's now well beyond 60 days... the DPE is unresponsive to voicemail and follow-up texts. Everytime we reschedule... we've been either cancelled by weather or his schedule has changed and the DPE is unable to make it as planned.

Next Steps??

Should I just consider this a lost cause at this point and not push to have the DPE finish the checkride? Am I within my right to request at least half of the $850 dollars refunded? The DPE did conduct half the checride... but they have not been very efficient with getting back with me to finish the checkride.

I'm often too easy going and just roll with things.... the folks at our flight school are pretty annoyed as this is really unusual. I've never failed or received a Notice of Disapproval before for a checkride. From a professional standpoint.... I find the DPE to be incredibly unprofessional and sloppy... but at the same time I'm not pushing the person who is grading my performance.

Thoughts on how I should proceed?
 

Flyinthrew

Well-Known Member
This DPE just cost you $1000 (including the FOI exam), and now doesn't have the time for you. You have to redo the entire oral for being past 60 days, and you've lost the income from the past two months of not instructing. The DPE is not returning your phone calls. That's pretty low.

I personally think you should challenge the examiner to a duel. However, that is frowned upon by the law. The next best thing you can do is start by not giving the examiner another $850, and then making sure nobody at the flight school uses the examiner's services as much as you can help it.

And PhDs use their notes.
 

DE727UPS

Well-Known Member
The whole system is FUBAR and always has been. It's just so unfair with no checks and balances. I would never send a designee to the FAA unless I knew the inspector extremely well and had intel on the checkride. I hate to say it but I'd spend the money to just get it done ASAP and put the whole sordid affair behind you. That's what I would do.
 

GypsyPilot

Well-Known Member
What a nightmare. Every so often I hear stories like this, and think of how lucky I am I never had a DE like that. How did you find him? Was he recommended?
 

killbilly

Vocals, Lyrics, Triangle, Washboard, Kittens
Did you work with a flight school or do this on your own?




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 

Silverhawkpmm

Well-Known Member
Thank you, all.

The DPE is one of the two that the Flight School typically uses and was very accommodating and easy to work with initially. It wasn't until it came time to reschedule that it has been much more difficult.

On one hand I didn't feel like paying the extra money to do it over again... but as was suggested... at this point it might just be less of a headache.
 

Nihon_Ni

Well-Known Member
I would make sure your flight school knows all the issues you've outlined in hopes that you will be the last person in your school that he will give this poor service to. I did my initial with the FAA -- at that time they weren't delegating CFI initials to DPEs. That process wasn't without dramas, but it was better than your experience. Good luck with the retest!
 

GypsyPilot

Well-Known Member
Honestly a DPE not letting you teach from a lesson plan should not be a DPE.
Completely agree.

A very important part of being a CFI is admitting to your students when you don’t know something, and looking up the answer with them. I can’t stress how crappy it makes one look to pretend like you know all the answers. Nobody does (PHD of aviation, how absolutely ridiculous).
 

gotWXdagain

Polished Member
Completely agree.

A very important part of being a CFI is admitting to your students when you don’t know something, and looking up the answer with them. I can’t stress how crappy it makes one look to pretend like you know all the answers. Nobody does (PHD of aviation, how absolutely ridiculous).
Literally the advice my POI gave me after observing one of my training sessions was to write down any questions from the group I wasn’t able to answer. Not knowing is completely normal, acceptable, and human.

Edit to add: a PhD of aviation is a real thing, offered by universities, that requires far more intensive work than a CFI.
 

killbilly

Vocals, Lyrics, Triangle, Washboard, Kittens
Thank you, all.

The DPE is one of the two that the Flight School typically uses and was very accommodating and easy to work with initially. It wasn't until it came time to reschedule that it has been much more difficult.

On one hand I didn't feel like paying the extra money to do it over again... but as was suggested... at this point it might just be less of a headache.
The problem with the internet is the lack of context and surrounding detail - so, the questions I have here shouldn't be construed as anything other than filling in details....

I'm scratching my head a little that you had to talk to the FSDO initially at all since the flight school recommended the DPE. For every Part 61 certificate I've ever earned, I never, ever talked to the FSDO - I'm curious as to why you went to the FSDO at all? Is that procedure where you're located?

Anyway....the DPE situation as mentioned above is a mess. It's the wild west. You get some who are straight by the book, some who are creative but fair, and some who are on a mission to drive their personal agendas through the testing system.

I would chalk it up to a bad experience and never, ever, ever advise anyone to do business with him again. Aviation is a small world. Bet the word's already out on this.

If you are in the NoVA/MD area, shoot me a PM and I can make a couple recommendations for DPEs if you need one.

Honestly a DPE not letting you teach from a lesson plan should not be a DPE.
Agreed. Given how much of FOI stresses this.
 

Silverhawkpmm

Well-Known Member
Great question, @killbilly

The reason I went to the FSDO first is that I actually planned on scheduling with them for the checkride. They (FSDO) recommended reaching out to one of the local DPE's to schedule directly as a result of their workload. That is when I called the DPE that our flight school uses.
 

killbilly

Vocals, Lyrics, Triangle, Washboard, Kittens
That's what I thought, figured that might answer the question about why he went to the FSDO initially.
They told me almost three years ago not to even bother trying to schedule a checkride with the FSDO due to workload. That was one of the reasons that the FSDOs relented on CFI initials....they couldn't keep up with the load.
 

ahw01

Well-Known Member
They told me almost three years ago not to even bother trying to schedule a checkride with the FSDO due to workload. That was one of the reasons that the FSDOs relented on CFI initials....they couldn't keep up with the load.
Most of them have a form/process so they allocate you a DPE for the initial. Just absolving themselves from that isn't helpful if you get a 'difficult' DPE.
 
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