Checkride day....


All the responsibility none of the authority
I loved reading about killbilly's exploits as a newly minted pilot, so I thought I'd write about my checkride yesterday. After flying the same airplane, OK they were two - but during a checkride you'd never know, for 8 years checkrides were more of an annoyance than anything.

As you all know, I started down a different path last September, so now I have a new company, airplane, procedures and stuff to learn. The slight bit of pre-checkride jitters are back. I realize I don't have the level of knowledge I had at the previous company. Apprehensions like "I'm pretty sure that the callouts are this - but am I 100% sure", "Man, I hope I don't screw up calling for the appropriate checklists", "It was so much easier when you had a MAP to point at the airport".

Not anything special, the same ride you always take in Part 121, but anyway, here it goes:

We (Me, the checkairman, my support FE and support CA) all met in at breakfast in the hotel, and drove over to the training center for the civilized sim slot of 1030 to 1430L, with an oral/pre-brief an hour prior.

We ramble into the lobby, grab some coffee and run into a few folks that we know. Caught up on the rumors and scuttlebutt. As we start heading to the brief room, a lady stops us. Lucky us, 3 of us got our random drug/alcohol testing. Now we head into the briefing about half an hour late.

During the oral portion, I get sampled on my systems knowledge. "What does the ANTI-SKID HYD annunciator indicate?" "If you arm the alternate trailing edge flap extension, what happens?" and on it goes. Since I stay in the books on the overnights, that part went pretty smooth since book knowledge is mainly effort.

Off to the box. The insturment of torture. The simulator. Where nothing goes right, and everything breaks.

I'm walking in, I'm asked to do the F/E's safety check. The panicked look on my face must have tipped them off. Naturally, it's a check that everyone does on every airplane before you do anything. However, the different terminology caught me off guard.

I settle in the seat, get my charts organized for SFO. I go to slide the seat up. Oh, different seat than in the airplane. I forgot. Older airplanes...Boeing used to build cockpits for specific customers.

As older converted passenger airplanes, freighters are a hodge-podge of customers, thus some minor differences in the cockpits. Normally, this isn't an issue for me for 2 reasons. First, we only have one airplane, so my cockpit is standard everyday I'm in it. Second, no matter how good you are at your job, everyone makes mistakes in "the heat of battle". Nothing like reaching for a switch, and it being moved, not there, or the worst, has different functionality.

As I take a quick look around to refamiliarize myself with the sim, the only differences on the machine are minor. How to adjust the seat, and how you program the NAV/ILS and select between the two. Mind you the sim set up actually makes it easier to do, but it's not what I'm USED to doing. A couple minor differences in a warning system, but it's very similar.

So I'm settled in the seat. I do my set up flow, conduct the predeparture briefing, and call for the first checklist.

We get ready for the push back, and the peppering of systems questions begin. "What hydraulic systems would you ask the FE to pressurize for the pushback?" Although this is part of the Captain's responsibility, I follow along on my flights. I get the answer easy enough. We run our checklist, push back and start all four.

Natuarally, it's never that easy in the sim. We start #1, and there's a problem. most of the gauges show a normal start, except one. I identify the problem, it clears up, and we start #2. I'm instructed not to abort the start, so the engine starts up, and shows an abnormal indication. Again, I'm asked to identify the problem.

We get the clearance from the groundcrew, and from ground. There are 2 runways not to have an inucrsion on, so I begin to taxi. During the flight control check, there were some abnormal indications. Granted, I was taxiing, distracted by the division of attention, and missed the real reason. Our outboard ailerons weren't moving because the trailing edge flaps were jammed up. Great, I've missed like 4 things now, but again the failures are oddball, and learning experiences.

This brings me to a great point about having checkrides every 6 months. You have an opportunity, beyond yanking and banking the airplane, during this time. You are able to dust off procedures you rarely see, you get experience to see issues that may have affected other pilots since the last time you were in for training, and you have the ability to gain more experience in the systems and how they are interrelated.

We make it down to the end of the runway. Usually in the sim, the first takeoff is normal, all motors running, no abnormals. I've been instructed to take a 15 degree bank when we reduce to climb thrust, do a departure stall, then rejoin the departure. The airplane is light, 285.7 kilos or about 630,000 lbs. We're at landing weight so no fuel dump if we have to return (seriously, what are the odds in the sim of that happening?;))

We get the airplane lined up on the runway, checklists are all done. Cleared for takeoff, T/O power is set, and we start rambling down the runway. V1, Vr, V2, the airplane is climbing. We get the climb thrust it set, I get down to the shaker, roll wings level and cobb the thrust levers. Once we're flying again, I rejoin the departure. Of course as we only have VORs with no standby feq's, we get a busy departure for us. I've got the machine cleaned up, blasting up to 9k. Out of 6.7, we're told by ATC to level at 7.0. I pull the power off, only get to about 7.2 and get my heading.

We speed up to 280kts, 7.0, flight directors off, and do steep turns. Those go reasonably well. Airplane is reset with the AP/AT on, I'm told to hand it off to the CA. I'm given holding instructions. I get that all set. Then the instructor introduces the scenario to get us to return to the airport.

I get the ILS out, briefed and all that fun stuff. In the sim, I personally, like to let the automation do as much work as the insturctor will allow. I'm never worried about getting my "hands-on" time as it will always happen. We fly a radial off one VOR, to the radial off another, then to intercept the ILS. Again, you fly into uncontrolled fields all the time that's standard fare. Flying the whale, it's usually a vector to a straight-in ILS to a 12,000' runway. Oh, did I mention, no stdby freqs? The PNF is a hard worker, and a great one always gets a just reward of cold beer.

So the machine is flying the transition, course comes alive, it flies through the LOC about twice turning way, WAY, WAY, out of the norm. The SIM instructor says "I'm NOT DOIN IT!" Of course I'm sweating now, thinking "What did I F*@# up!?!", clicking off the AP and AT, getting the airplane on LOC and slope and configuring while I'm figuring what went wrong. A quick check of the mode controller panel shows I indeed know what I'm doing. I get the airplane reigned in, make my normal 4 engine landing.

Now that the easy part is out of the way, the fun begins. Takeoff number 2. You're spring-loaded for a V1 cut. This has been a huge change in a philosiphy for me. The Embraer jets, a V1 cut was a delicate dance to make it got straight, add a skosh of rudder when you rotate, and off you go. Not so in the whale. You blow an outboard, and it's the old Turboprop mentality. Smash the rudder to the floor. When the nose starts to swing back, back the rudder out to make it go straight. And it has a bit of inertia at the weights we fly it.

The checklists are being run, and all I'm thinking is "No matter which one goes, smash the rudder to the floor!" We set T/O power, start rolling....80kts.....engine fail. Ahh....the sneaky reject on T/O #2.

We reset the sim, get going again. 80kts. I call "checked", but I'm thinking "Smash the rudder to the floor. get it going straight, then rotate" At V1, as expected a motor blew. I can't for the life of me can't remember which one, but I PWNED it. We fly the profile outbound. Of course in the fog of war, I call for the checklist a little early. At any rate, we're on course, away from mountains. I assign the CA and the FE to run the checklists, I'm flying the plane back around for the approach. #4 is secured, and the #3 Engine Oil pressure annuciator illuminates. I check with the F/E, and the indications at the panel are normal. As we're swinging around, it's noted to me by the FE that the temp's now high, the oil pressure and quantity are getting low. Oh well, we've got one secured, so let it turn until it quits on it's own accord. Intercepting the ILS, all checklists are done, and I'm flying down the pipe. Looks nice. I'm still sweating bullets, though. Naturally, as it's the sim, nothing ever goes right, so I have to do a 3 engine missed. On the go, #3 (remember the one with the oil issues?) starts compressor stalling. The CA pulls the thrust lever back to keep it from continuing to compressor stall. I push #1 & 2 up to compensate for this. About 2000', #3 fire bell and warnings come on. We get the plane levelled off, #3 secured. I'm pushing alot of rudder, get that trimmed up, trying to maintain altitude. The weather miraculously clears up. I make a right then left procedureish turn to head towards the field. The FE is furiously reading our checklists. I'm focused on keeping the greasy side pointed to the dirt. I'm doing my 3:1 calcs in my head, since the sim visuals are about as good as the drawings my 2 year old makes. I get lined up for 10L, fly down the visual glidepath. I do keep a little high, as low and slow with 2 engines isn't the place to be. I get a normal landing out of it, bring it to a stop on centerline and before the end of the runway. That works for me.

Now it's time for a system abnormal, and a non-precision. We roll down the runway, rotate, positive climb, gear up, BANG. HYD 4 died. It always seems to happen that way, so an abnormal gear extension doesn't have to occur, saves alot of valuable sim time. Of course all 4 motors are turning, so it almost feels like you're cheating by this point. I make a turn direct to the NDB. The plane is flying a little sloppier now as some flight controls aren't functioning, but it's still easily controllable. I hit the NDB, turn outbound for the procedure turn, and the instructor freezes the sim so we can get through some procedures and some HYD systems discussion. That's all done, I'm turned loose, get the plane configured and fly my NDB approach. Did I mention the airplane as differences? The ADF needles are on the HSI on the sim, but are on an RMI in the plane. I adapt well enough, but something else to process on a checkride, is just that much less brain power I have to dedicate to other tasks(yes, this does cross my mind several times during the approach). Oh well, back to flying the approach. I'm coming down the pipe get down to MDA, and have the runway. Fly it down and land.

We stop.

I'm done. Was it the perfect ride? Naw, it never is. Did I perform to standards? My checkairman thought so. Were there things I wish I did differently? Of course, and I'll not make the same mistakes next time.

1+30 since we rolled for the first takeoff. 2.0 since we got in the box.

Another 6 months, and it happens again.

Boris Badenov

Just running in to a burning house...
I almost started sweating myself, but luckily I steadied myself with a beer. Awesome read, thanks for posting it. This is why you guys make the big bucks ;)

Polar742 said:
As older converted passenger airplanes, freighters are a hodge-podge of customers, thus some minor differences in the cockpits. Normally, this isn't an issue for me for 2 reasons. First, we only have one airplane, so my cockpit is standard everyday I'm in it. Second, no matter how good you are at your job, everyone makes mistakes in "the heat of battle". Nothing like reaching for a switch, and it being moved, not there, or the worst, has different functionality.
Heh. They took me out of my trusty steed and gave me a -60 (rather than -36) today. Same plane, slightly bigger engines, bigger props. It would take an aviation-nerd to tell the difference sitting on the ramp, but those little things add up. "What? I've burned 500 GALLONS? Oh, pounds". Same switches in the same position burn fuel out of different tanks, and the fancy altitude alerter I'm not used to kept making me jump out of my seat (picture guy sitting there saying "what? WHAT? WHAT DO YOU WANT?" to the airplane) etc etc. Little stuff adds up and I felt off kilter the whole way, to the point that I didn't get any further in the latest page-turner. I feel your pain. Except of course, my career wasn't on the line!


Island Bus Driver
Nice write up. I'm due for one at the beginning of September. I guess it's time to start remembering stuff again.


Well-Known Member
Great read Polar! And congrats on a successful checkride!

I don't like the stress of preparing for things like that, but it's always a good feeling when it's over and done satisfactorily.

I'm truly jealous! I hope to land a kick ass job like yours one day.:rawk:


NAHB Doesn't Give a Crap
I am jealous of your sim time. We are down to 1 sim (usually 3) so that meant a 6 AM show time this morning. Boo!!! At least we were done by 11!!! :)