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I failed the flight of my commercial checkride


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#1 Guest_Kung Fu_*

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Posted 19 November 2009 - 22:15

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Edited by Maximinious, 13 August 2010 - 06:24.


#2 AdminLB

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 09:54

Thanks for sharing that story! You have the right attitude at least, which is much more important. In the end it does not matter who mucks up your fuel load, you, the PIC, are responsible to check it and make sure that you are within limits.

Do not sweat it. I have flown some of the fanciest helicopters and got paid some of the biggest bucks to fly them.......but you know what.......that really does not matter. At some point we will all get caught with our pants down. On two occasions in my career, I had to delay a flight because someone overfueled my helicopter. One of those times I just swapped into the second helicopter and the other I had to have the helicopter de-fueled.....which is a pain in the arse.

Even though someone else overfueled it, I was still the one who looked like a knucklehead when my 5 passengers, who cumulatively made more $$ per year than the GDP of some small countries, had to wait a half hour beyond departure time for me to get the helicopter defueled. :unsure:

Both times I got shafted, I did not supervise the fueling and the person fueling mucked up the order. A very good rule of thumb is to supervise every fueling yourself! Even when you are tired, and cold and hungry and just want to get the hell away from the helicopter at the end of a long day........stick around a few minutes more and supervise the fueling.

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#3 aclark79

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 10:51

It sucks and is a good lesson, I've seen people fail a great commercial check ride for failing to do a post flight. They got so excited that they forgot the last step...

Don't worry about this being a hash mark against you in the future. In the long run no one is going to give you static about failing a commercial ride.
"The ultimate responsibility of the pilot is to fulfill the dreams of the countless millions of earthbound ancestors who could only stare skyward and wish." ---anonymous

#4 Kandace

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 10:59

I know you feel bad, but I wouldn't worry about it too much. Anyone can fail a checkride! All it takes is to have one single moment of inattention or nerves.

You aren't the only person I've heard of failing a ride before flying. I know a guy that failed the oral portion of a private glider ride. He has not been back to take it yet!

Kandace

#5 delorean

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 11:16

I would have kicked my CFI's butt for that. Yeah, it was ultimately your fault, but that was YOUR aircraft after you preflighted, he shouldn't have done anything to it without telling the PIC.....you! We used to have a DPE that would unscrew a fuel cap or covered the pitot tube AFTER you preflighted. I think that was a crappy thing to do, but it stressed a walk around (but, what if he forgot and you didn't do a walkaround?!?!?!?)

Besides, who takes 3.5 hrs worth of fuel on a 1.0-1.5 hr checkride??? You want that thing as light as possible for the autos and hover power losses. Plus, we had some FAA inspectors that would try to turn this into an all day process. So, we would only put barely over half tanks to keep the checkrides at 1.2 - 1.3 hrs max without hitting the reserve. Sometime they would come back and refuel, but most would call it good.

Don't get down on yourself, it's no big deal to take another ride and no employer will ever know. Even though it's wrong.........I still put most of the blame on your instructor. WTF was he thinking?????

#6 azbirdman

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 12:15

Good lessons cost a little cash or heartache, the alternative being your career or life. BE HAPPY!

Most of my instructors were heavier than I, and knowing that W&B is CRITICAL in light aircraft,

I made it a point to read the fuel load at first walk as its quantity or quality could ground you.

Also, its good policy to fly as light as possible whenever possible, which should be every time

by design on training missions. Do not approach or push limits. Use sound ADM/risk management.

Shiny up all!

Edited by azbirdman, 20 November 2009 - 12:17.


#7 rotorrodent

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 12:20

So I pass the ground portion of my commercial checkride and then I go out to the helicopter for the flight portion and start my preflight. I start the helicopter and while the engine is warming up...the Test Examiner asks me how much I weigh. I reply "190 lbs". I finish all the pre take-off checks....then I start to raise the collective and just before the skids come off the ground... the Proctor says..."wait! Lower the collective down". So I lower the collective.

He looks at me and says..."look at the fuel gauges". I look at the fuel gauges and notice both the main and aux are full (at this point in time...I'm sitting there..... totally clueless to why he made me lower the collective). The Examiner then says..."I weight 170, you weight 190, + basic empty weight + fuel.....we are over max weight by 16 pounds. Sorry, you fail your checkride." He then rolls off the throttle and starts the shutdown process. (I just sit there for a moment...frozen...thinking...what the f*#% just happened???)

I just thought I would share the story so no one makes the same mistake. In my defense, I did submit a weight and balance sheet with the the amount of fuel we SHOULD have been carrying...I had us balanced out at 1350 lbs...just under max weight for the R-22. Right before my checkride...one of my instructors at the school filled the tanks up for me. I don't blame him for doing it, I actually thought it was a nice gesture. Afterward, he felt a little guilty that I failed because I was over gross weight, I told him not to worry about it.

I feel so dumb right now, I should have realized that the tanks were full and recalculated our weight again before take-off. Now I have a slash on my record for failing my checkride before I even left the ground. I am so humilated right now! Who fails there checkride flight without flying? I guess the only thing left to do is laugh about it.

My solution: I have decided to loose 16 pounds in the near future so this will never happen again. :D


Bugger mate! No worries though...everything we experience is something you can put into your flight bag and carry it with you for a lifetime. you won't do that again will you!

I would downplay this as much as you can. All of us have busted a check ride at one time or another. It's just a learning experience.

Gather yourself up and get out there and do it again. Your CFI wouldn't have recommended you unless you were ready. Remember always, as PIC, you are responsible for the aircraft loading. If you don't have the fuel load you want, make them fix it even if they have to suck it out with a straw! 1+30 for a checkride and +20 for reserves should do it.

In your oral, brief the W&B and "this is how much fuel I want". During preflight, always first check your serviceable items (fuel, oil etc), that it matches what you planned for. You will always be safe if you plan and execute correctly.

Your DPE was acting as your instructor that day. He was kind and generous enough to share with you a valuable lesson, taking off over Max GW will someday eat your lunch!

Like I said, you will never have that experience again. Your lesson has been learned.

Cheers

Rotorrodent
*** Knowledge is what you get by reading the small print..
Experience is what you get for not reading it! ***

#8 Guest_Kung Fu_*

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 14:24

.

Edited by Maximinious, 13 August 2010 - 06:24.


#9 kodoz

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 15:20

On my commercial oral, I blew the first 2 questions the examiner gave me. The rest of it went well, but I was pretty shaken for a few minutes there. Chalk it up to a learning experience.

Share your experience at WikiRFM.
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#10 Goldy

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Posted 21 November 2009 - 01:21

Too bad you didnt notice it first, then you just could have asked him to step out while you go fly around for an hour to burn off some fuel!

I can't even imagine how long it would take to drain out 3 or 4 gallons using the little sump inspection lines...

Fly Safe !!

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#11 lelebebbel

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Posted 21 November 2009 - 03:02

much quicker to use a hose and a bucket
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#12 xcell

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Posted 21 November 2009 - 08:18

do worry about it,life is a learning experience it will make you into a better pilot.

#13 helonorth

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Posted 21 November 2009 - 11:09

Well, you learned a good lesson, but I hope the instructor learned the lesson, too. I NEVER put fuel in a helicopter for anyone else unless they ask me to. I also never fuel up the night before or too
soon before I take off. The plan changes more often than not. And it's usually more weight. So when they show up with 200 pounds of parts or an extra person, I can say "no problem" instead of
"oh sh*t". You failed the ride and you didn't check the amount of fuel, but strangling your instructor would not be out of the question for me!

Edited by helonorth, 21 November 2009 - 13:21.


#14 MLH

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Posted 21 November 2009 - 11:54

I think everyone has a tale to tell, I got in a hurry to take the PPL written and failed by one question. Next time around, I studied the last half of the book and got 100% on retest. Your already a better pilot from your experience.


"I can't even imagine how long it would take to drain out 3 or 4 gallons using the little sump inspection lines..."

Goldy,

Not sure how long it takes with a 22, but a 44 is about 10 minutes from the bottom drain. Being the curious type, I ran the fuel down in a hover until the low fuel light came on and drained the remainder, 3.5 gallons.

Mike

#15 Goldy

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Posted 21 November 2009 - 16:01

Goldy,

Not sure how long it takes with a 22, but a 44 is about 10 minutes from the bottom drain. Being the curious type, I ran the fuel down in a hover until the low fuel light came on and drained the remainder, 3.5 gallons.

Mike


Now that's being creative. So figure in the 44, maybe 1/2 gallon is unusable? Leaving 3 gallons, at a burn of about 12-15 an hour, gives you around 12-15 minutes of flight time left. 12 minutes sure isnt very long, I hope I'm in the pattern already!

Actually, I've only had the low fuel on the 22 come on once...and that was back in the 80's with my CFI..and we were about 4 mi from the airport. Still, it was poor planning on both of us, because we stayed out in the practice area a bit too long. He and I were both big guys, 190 and 225, so we could never take a lot of fuel with us.


ah..to be 225 again!

Goldy

Fly Safe !!

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#16 lelebebbel

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Posted 21 November 2009 - 17:25

I ran the fuel down in a hover until the low fuel light came on and drained the remainder, 3.5 gallons.

Mike

Now that's being creative. So figure in the 44, maybe 1/2 gallon is unusable? Leaving 3 gallons, at a burn of about 12-15 an hour, gives you around 12-15 minutes of flight time left


Careful here. The low fuel sensor is in the forward half of the tank. Due to the different aircraft attitude in a hover versus forward flight, the light will come on earlier while in a hover.

In other words, if the light comes on while you are flying around in the pattern, there might be less fuel left than the 3-1/2 gal you measured in your hover test.

You are also most likely to run out of fuel while transitioning to a hover as the fuel moves to the back of the tank, away from the fuel line.

A different cabin load (C of G) will also affect this.

Edited by lelebebbel, 21 November 2009 - 17:26.

When In Danger
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#17 Wally

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Posted 22 November 2009 - 11:46

As others have said, that's a very valuable lesson learned early in your career, and cheaply, if embarrassing. The bullet points-

Plan your fuel. Full tanks are comforting, for some obscure reason. Anything beyond a reasonable reserve is just more weight and less performance in the real world.

Fuel to that requirement and have a plan for more when appropriate.

Be conservative in the estimation between too much and not enough- is weight the bigger issue; time taken to refuel; or just availability? And plan when you'll supplement the fuel on board.

Supervise your refueling yourself. Always and forever, Amen.

Do not rely on your fuel gauges!!! If the gauges verify, that's comforting, but they're very much estimation. Had one the reasonable justification (sumped fuel, visual check of quantity not quite full, extended 'check-ride run-up', etc.) I might challenge the examiner on that FNG assumption of fuel gauge accuracy. I wouldn't make it an argument for argument's sake, however.

Anyhow, painful experience is the best teacher.

Edited by Wally, 22 November 2009 - 11:50.

Just a pilot (retired, so I have a LOT of time)...


#18 JETTSET99

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Posted 22 November 2009 - 12:18

Kung fu well I would Karate Chop the instructor! its not your fault you failed! yes you are the one that needs to check W&B on every flight but the way I see it you been poorly trained and during a check ride we all make slip ups! And why in the hell would you top off the tanks for a check ride or any training flight unless its a cross country?also why would he fill it up? if he didn't you would of had the opportunity during your pre flight to check fuel and then if you filled it full it would be on you! he laid the foundation for you to fail period! its obvious that once he told you all filled up he put the tanks to right amount hes a pro right? wrong...,he sabotaged you.. that right their shows the inexperience of the instructor you paid to complete your commercial training that's the problem with low time instructors they are still learning during the teaching of other students,,,One good thing that I see for you I wont ever read about you crashing a overloaded Heli :D Get a Full refund for any out of pocket money for that crappy checkride from your instructor or school...

#19 Goldy

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Posted 22 November 2009 - 14:40

Careful here. The low fuel sensor is in the forward half of the tank. Due to the different aircraft attitude in a hover versus forward flight, the light will come on earlier while in a hover.

In other words, if the light comes on while you are flying around in the pattern, there might be less fuel left than the 3-1/2 gal you measured in your hover test.

You are also most likely to run out of fuel while transitioning to a hover as the fuel moves to the back of the tank, away from the fuel line.

A different cabin load (C of G) will also affect this.



Great points, especially in smaller ships like the 22 or 44.

Fly Safe !!

Goldy-CPL(H),R22A, HP, B, BII, R44 Astro, R1,RII,R44ClipperII, R66, B47G2, S300C, S333, B206B3, DG500, RV10, E480B, AS350BA, S-58T, what next?

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#20 justfly

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 17:01

...Supervise your refueling yourself. Always and forever, Amen...

I agree! I see, as standard practice, people order fuel following their preflight, then go inside and leave the refueling to unknown entities.

NO! NO! NO!

That person is likely not getting in the helicopter with you. What investment do they have in it being 100% correct? What training, knowledge, and experience do they have relative to small training helicopters? It's too easy to load the incorrect amount (especially if they are on the cell phone or radio taking another order), or leave a cap off, or load JET fuel instead of AVGAS, or start to drive off with the static line attached, or... all of which I have witnessed.

On preflight I check fuel first, then place the order, then continue preflight. The delivery will usually arrive while you are completing the preflight or shortly after. Seldom the wait is longer, or you may have to give them another call. Just be sure to have good discipline and procedure for noting where you stopped preflight if interrupted.

Good for you for taking personal responsibility for your oversight, YOU are PIC! I don't know what your instructor was thinking, but it doesn't matter, it was YOUR responsibility. Recall from FAR Part 1 1.1 General definitions:

Pilot in command means the person who:
(1) Has final authority and responsibility for the operation and safety of the flight;

Sounds like you have a great attitude about the lesson you were offered! And as Wally also pointed out,

...painful experience is the best teacher.

Good luck on your retest.
"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." Benjamin Franklin

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