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Before recommending your students for the flight test, you should complete a pre-flight-test evaluation. This should take the form of a simulated flight test, conducted by the instructor who did most of the training.
There are three reasons for conducting the pre-flight-test evaluation:
- Familiarize the student with the format of the flight test.
- Enhance student confidence for the real flight test.
- Satisfy the instructor that the student is ready for the flight test.
Keep in mind that this flight is not the only evaluation you do of your student's performance. Every flight should involve evaluation of your student's performance in some way. When your student demonstrates the ability to perform to flight test standards on a particular exercise, you should make note of the fact on the Pilot Training Record in the column titled "Meets Test Standards". Keeping a running record of exercise-by-exercise performance will help you decide when the time is right to schedule the pre-flight-test evaluation. Schedule the flight only when your student has given you reason to believe that all exercises can be done successfully. Choosing the right time will give you an accurate picture of how your student will perform on the flight test. Also, your student will gain confidence by meeting all test standards during a "sample" flight test.
Avoid doing the test too early or too late. Attempting the pre-flight-test evaluation too soon risks turning the flight into a discouraging experience for the student because of poor performance. It may also require that you conduct a second pre-flight-test evaluation later, when the student is really ready. Leaving the flight too late simply adds training time and cost for the student and may lower his/her confidence level. Comparing your student's performance on all training flights with the standards specified in the flight test guide will tell you when the student is performing according to the standards. That is the time to schedule the pre-flight-test evaluation.
There is no secret about how the actual flight test is conducted. Talk to other instructors, examiners, or a Transport Canada inspector. Review the Flight Test Guide - Multi-Engine Class Rating. Your flight training unit should have copies of this guide. If none is available, call the Flight Training Standards Section of your nearest Transport Canada Regional Office or visit the Transport Canada website at http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/opssvs/general-flttrain-planes-1874.htm.
The "Description" section will describe how the examiner should test the exercise during the actual flight test. The "Performance Criteria" section will tell you how well the student must perform to receive a "pass" assessment.
Plan the pre-flight-test evaluation to parallel as closely as possible what the student can expect during the actual flight test. Think of some oral questions to assess performance on the five parts of exercise 1. You may also be able to assess some parts of other exercises using oral questions. You should also plan the order in which the in-flight exercises will be tested. There is no hard and fast rule about the order, except that you should try to arrange the exercises so that a minimum amount of time is required without rushing the candidate.
The “ground flight test items” must be evaluated before the airborne portion. Most examiners begin the airborne portion of the flight test with a normal circuit. Next, depart the circuit and climb to an altitude and location suitable for the other exercises. Normally, the first exercise assessed is cruising flight, followed by an engine failure in cruise flight and some manoeuvring with one engine inoperative. Other exercises requiring altitude are then completed, including the “intentional engine shutdown” (simulated) exercise after which the flight returns to the airport for a simulated one engine inoperative arrival, approach and landing. System failures and emergency procedures are usually tested at various points during the flight or on the ground with or without engines shut down, as appropriate and safe, depending on the particular emergency being evaluated.
Resist the temptation to teach your student during the pre-flight-test evaluation. Remember, the purpose is to give your student an accurate preview of the actual flight test. Examiners do not teach during the test, nor should you during this simulated flight test.
During the pre-flight-test evaluation, give specific instructions to the student. If you expect the student to maintain altitude, give an instruction like "maintain 5,000 feet". If the grading criterion for an exercise includes maintaining airspeed, heading and altitude make sure you specify the airspeed, heading and altitude that you expect the student to maintain. In this way, there won't be any confusion and your student is more likely to do what you are expecting.
Once the pre-flight-test evaluation has been successfully completed, ensure that your student has all of the required documentation to be admitted to the flight test. Review the requirements to be admitted to a flight test. They are listed in the flight test guide. Check your student's licence and medical certification, including any temporary endorsements written on the back, to make sure that nothing has expired. Make sure the application form is correctly completed, including signatures by both you and the student. Be sure to include the letter of recommendation. A sample letter of recommendation is included at the end of the flight test guide. A FTU can formulate an equivalent letter on stationery with their company letterhead
NOTE: The certification that the candidate has received training for and has conducted actual inflight engine shutdown, propeller feathering, engine restart and unfeathering procedures is no longer required for admission to the flight test. This practice is no longer condoned by Transport Canada and is not recommended. Proficiency can best be achieved in a suitably equipped simulator or flight training device.
After the time and effort put into their training, your students deserve to get off to a good start on their flight test. Arriving without all the required documentation means that the test will be delayed at best (resulting in increased stress for the student) or cancelled all together. In either case, inadequate documentation reflects unprofessionally on you as an instructor. Having everything in order gives your student a more confident feeling for the test and reflects on your professionalism as an instructor.