CFI ride taken at the local FSDO?


Well-Known Member
In talking with the DE on the field, he mentioned the FAA likes to have first crack at all CFI rides. Said it is not published anywhere, but, they have done this for about 5 years. And only recently have begun to enforce this idea. Allowing a DE to do the ride is no problem if they are busy I guess.

I found it kinda odd. Can anyone see an advantage of me going to the FAA office for the ride, other than the cost savings?

Or care to comment on this practice in general if it is similar in your area?

I believe that in most districts other than the busiest ones, this has been the norm for several years. No advantages to doing it with the FAA at all.

In fact, make sure that the airplane you'll do it in is in a tip-top airworthy condition. It is likely that the Ops Inspector will give the aircraft maintenance records to an airworthiness inspector to look at while you do your oral. If the airworthiness inspector finds ANYTHING, then at the very least you will not be able to do your ride and you might even find yourself and the owner/operator the subject of a violation investigation.

Having said all that, the FAA Ops Inspectors around here are great guys and I'd do a checkride with them anyday. For the most part they can't stand the airworthiness guys, so they don't really go out of the way to help them do their jobs.

When I did my cfi ride, I had to fax my paperwork to the Orlando Fsdo, then they would reply to see if they had the time to do it, or farm it out to a dpe. They didn't have the time to do mine, so they gave me a choice of 3 dpes to choose from. Although, many of my friends were not as fortunate. Many suffered through 6-8 hour orals, and had to come back another day to do the flight. One guy did the oral and came back a few days later, only to be busted for not having a runway diagram of ORL (Orlando Executive) in his kneeboard! Imagaine that? The cost is obviously better at the FSDO, but factor in the cost of the plane to fly there, twice and the added pressure of an oral with the feds, I would do the DPE for sure. Good Luck.......
I went to a all day CFI seminar hosted by the local FSDO week before last. It was very informative. Four points amoung many:
(1) Never go into the student mode during a oral or checkride. If you don't know something just say so and know where to look it up (just don't make a habit of looking things up).
(2) Know the Wings Program front to back, you will be tested.
(3) If you are a Wings participent the DPE or FAA examiner is suppose to smile and shave a hour or more off of your oral.
(3) If a strut fairing or wing tip (plastic) is cracked anywhere, it should not exceed 1".
(4) If asked about obvious normal wear state "it's within the manufactors wear limits". (~85% of all aircraft flying overhead are not airworthy in the technical sense)
I'd prefer to do it with the DPE, because I have heard of horror stories of super long stuff like ya mention.

The thing is, he is the one that told me I had to go to the FSDO office first. And privided myself, and my instructor, with the contact at that office. In any case, we scheduled a date anyhow, and he said to mention this to the FSDO when contacting them. I guess there are only a few that are allowed to do them anyhow (as you mentioned from the 3 options thing) and the DPE on my field happens to be one allowed to do the CFI rides.

Commercial is Friday, 3 delay now, so hope that happens this time, and then I'm on to worry about scheduling the CFI ride.

I had taken my initial CFI ride with the Allegheny FSDO in Pennsylvania in 2001 and was pleased with the process (even though it did take about 2 weeks to complete with weather being an issue). Anyways, about having the airplane you use for your practical being in top shape is absolutely right!! You must also make sure you have all the proper paperwork, placards, and STC's for EVERYTHING installed in the aircraft. They were really big on paperwork.

I recommend that you take the airplane you'll be taking your test in to the local FSDO for a PACE inspection. I believe they still offer these at any time but I could be mistaken. What the PACE inspection does is they will have someone from the airworthiness department go over the aircraft and all logs to see if everything is in order (which 99% of the time it isn't, according to the inspector that administered the PACE inspection for me). If they do find any discrepancies they will not violate you..the PACE is kind of like a freebie in that they will send you home on a ferry permit until everything on their list has been properly fixed or entered into the logs but you WILL NOT receive a violation. You do this inspection BEFORE you go for that initial CFI ride with the FSDO.

I'm glad I went for the PACE inspection because they found 9 items that weren't properly entered in the logs and there was a problem with the interior (it didn't comply with part 23 for fire retardent materials). So, of course, I did get a ferry permit and had to have a local mechanic sign-off for me to fly back to the airplanes home base. The airplane I took down was a 1977 Piper Arrow. Took a few days but the mechanic and owner of the aircraft got everything in order and that was 1 less thing I had to worry about for my checkride.

When I did go down for the oral and practical the examiner I was assigned was very nice. He did make it very clear that if something wasn't to PTS that he had no choice but to fail me. Which is fair. The oral was very thorough (lasted about 6 hours). It was kindda funny because the examiner had the PTS printed out about 150% of it's original size and went through it 1 by 1. He was very easy to talk to and made me feel comfortable, which was really nice because I hear stories of other FSDOs not being very friendly at all.

It was a learning experience and I did pass on the first try. It took 2 weeks to complete because of weather but the examiner worked with me to get it all completed and I still keep in touch with him today.

But if you do take your checkride with the FSDO I do STRONGLY recommend you schedule a PACE inspection since it will keep you from being violated. If you do go to the FSDO for your ride and didn't do a PACE and they find a discrepancy, you and the owner will receive a violation that will go in your records.

Take care all!

What do DE, DPE, and FSDO all stand for? I've been hoping someone would spell one out so I could figure the others out.
DE/DPE- Designated (Pilot) Examiner --> Same thing

FSDO- Flight Standards District Office --> Regional offices where all the local feds hang out.

Thank you, sir.

To make sure I've got it, DEs generally do checkrides, except for CFI checkrides, in which case the FAA wants one of their own examiners to do it?
Ok, I'm lookin' at the local FSDO site for this PACE thing. Any idea how to find more? If I end up going there for the test, I sure don't want to be stopped before getting in the error because someone made a incorrect log entry or something.

Or is it called something else now?

Just called to schedule my initial CFI recently, and the Nashville FSDO said, nope, called a DE. Things are getting very fishy out here....