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After all the flying is done, all the ground instruction complete, and all the stage checks satisfactory, there is still one crucial step left to complete. That is to prepare the paperwork and ensure that the student has all the items that an examiner will need in order to conduct the practical test. Nothing is quite as frustrating for all those involved as to have a checkride not happen due to a paperwork detail, a missing signature, or document.  It is important that both the flight instructor and applicant be knowledgeable about these requirements, so let’s see if we can explain some of the less well understood components of final checkride preparation.


Towards the end of the textual information section of every Practical Test Standard is page entitled “Applicant’s Practical Test Checklist” which lists everything the applicant needs for the test.  Let’s examine this list item by item in order to re-acquaint ourselves with these requirements.




The first section is entitled “Acceptable Aircraft” and is shown below.


  • Aircraft Documents:

Airworthiness Certificate

Registration Certificate

Operating Limitations

  • Aircraft Maintenance Records:

Logbook Record of Airworthiness Inspections

and AD Compliance

  • Pilot’s Operating Handbook, FAA-Approved

Airplane Flight Manual


This list reflects the requirements of 61.45 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. The regulation states, among other things, that the applicant must supply an aircraft of the applicable category, class, and type for the checkride. It goes on to state that the aircraft must be capable of all required tasks. This answers a lot of questions. For example, if the airplane is not equipped for instrument flight then it may not be used for a private pilot flight test, which requires the demonstration of instrument flying skills. If there is a question about the use of a specific aircraft, refer to 61.45 and ask the examiner for a final ruling if still in doubt.


It is obvious to most that the Airworthiness Certificate, Registration, and Operating Handbook must be available, but less obvious is why we must furnish the aircraft maintenance records.  The explanation goes like this. On every flight test where the applicant furnishes an aircraft, it must be an airworthy aircraft, and therefore the applicant must be able to prove airworthiness by means of aircraft maintenance records that meet the requirements of Part 43. One often missing item is a ELT inspection endorsement which is separate and at a different interval from the ELT battery replacement requirements. Also an Airworthiness Directive compliance checklist must be furnished that lists all AD’s for that aircraft with compliance shown where applicable. Interestingly, a 100 hour inspection is not specifically required for a checkride, because although the aircraft may be a rental, the flight test is not a “for-hire” flight. There may be recurring AD’s requiring attention every 100 hours, however, so take care that these have been complied with in such a case. One final word on airworthiness; the aircraft must also pass a visual inspection. An examiner or inspector has a perfect right to not get into an aircraft that they consider un-airworthy based on a visual inspection.


 The next section of the Applicant’s Checklist is Personal Equipment, which is listed below.

  • View-Limiting Device

  • Current Aeronautical Charts

  •  Computer and Plotter

  •  Flight Plan Form

  •  Flight Logs

  • Current AIM, Airport Facility Directory, and Appropriate publications

Remember the view limiting device if instrument tasks will be required. It is not up to the examiner to remind the applicant about this. Charts must be current and a flight computer and plotter should be available. Can we use an electronic computer? No device is specifically prohibited, although the whiz wheel may be a better tool in the airplane. Even though it may not be appropriate, I have seen some examiners demand the use of the manual computer. The rest is fairly self explanatory. Make sure that all publications are current, and if the instrument tasks using an IFR approved GPS will be performed, ensure that the GPS database is current.  Outdated Data and publications send an unfavorable message to the examiner.




The final area of the applicant’s checklist is Personal Records.

  •  Identification—Current Photo/Signature ID issued by a US or Foreign government agency.

  • Pilot Certificate

  • Current Medical Certificate (any class is OK for any checkride)

  •  Completed FAA Form 8710-1, Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application with         Instructor's Signature

  • Computer Knowledge Test Report (original with raised embossed seal from testing center)

  • Pilot Logbook with appropriate Instructor Endorsements (think three)

  • FAA Form 8060-5, Notice of Disapproval (if applicable)

  • Approved School Graduation Certificate (if applicable)

  • Examiner’s Fee (if applicable)



Starting with Identification, this must be a photo ID with a signature that is issued by a government agency. It must be current and valid. A driver’s license is most common.   At least a valid third class medical certificate is required as well as a valid pilot certificate. One problem that comes up occasionally is the difference between the duration of a 3rd class medical and a student pilot certificate. Even though these documents are typically printed on the same piece of paper, they have different durations. The 3rd class medical is valid for 36 calendar months for those under the age of 40 years, while the student pilot certificate is only valid for 24 calendar months. In rare cases where pilot training has taken longer than two years, an applicant may show up for the checkride with a valid medical but an expired student pilot certificate. The checkride cannot start until this is remedied, and the examiner may not have the proper form or authorization to issue a new student pilot certificate.


8710-1 APPLICATION  or IACRA (IACRA website is: (Integrated (on line) Airman Certification and/or Rating Application)*

* The online application system is the future. Please use this system unless unable to do so for some reason. It takes a little effort to get registered but it makes everyone's life easier in the end and will result in getting your permanent pilot certificate more quickly. If unable please contact me. See below for 8710-1 instructions.


Next, let’s look at the 8710-1 form which is the practical test application. It is best for the instructor and student to fill this out together so that errors are minimized. Instructors have been known to sign the bottom of the form, hand it to the student and say “Here, fill this out and bring it to your checkride.” This is not a good practice and usually results in errors that must be corrected prior to starting the test.


Let’s start with the form itself. These days the form is usually printed from a computer file. A PDF file for the 8710-1 can be downloaded from the following link: .  The form must be an exact duplicate of the printed FAA form and must include the shaded sections in area III, Record of Pilot Time. Apparently some printers don’t print the shading, or print it in a pink or green color. Forms with these and other printing defects will be rejected because FAA Airman Records division archives these forms on microfiche, and the shaded areas must photograph clearly for a legible copy.


It is best to have the front and back of the form printed on one sheet of paper. This can easily be done by printing the current page only (making sure that the windows curser is on page 1 of the form), taking the paper out of the printer and putting it back so that it will print on the other side, moving the curser to the second page and printing this page only. The form contains an instruction sheet and if the instructions are followed exactly, there will be fewer errors. In brief, here are some common mistakes that can be avoided with a little care.


  • On the very top of the form: Check the boxes that apply including what type of checkride (private, commercial, instrument, ATP, etc) and what category and class of aircraft is being used. Don’t check the Private box in addition to the Instrument box for an instrument checkride.

  • Box A should include three names or two names followed by the notation NMN, which signifies no middle name when no middle name exists. If a Hispanic name includes the mothers name after the fathers, as is often the case, it looks like four names. Actually it is only three names because the fathers name followed by the mothers constitutes one name. It should be written as: fathers name (space) mothers name, first name, middle name.

  • Place of birth is city and state, or if outside the USA, city and country.

  •  Citizenship if other than US should be the name of the country, i.e. Denmark not Danish.

  • Height should be in inches and eye and hair color should be spelled out, even though they may have been abbreviated on the medical certificate.

  • Yes, a student pilot certificate is a FAA pilot certificate and it has a number that typically starts with two letters like FF or EE. Include these in the certificate number. The issue date is the date on the pilot certificate, not the day of the previous checkride.

  • The medical examiners name should include MD or whatever type of medical designation is included in the examiner name block of the medical certificate.

  • In area II of the 8710-1, at least one box should be checked including Box A.

  • If box C is checked (graduate of an approved course) the date should be the date on the graduation certificate. This is important because the entire test must be completed within 60 days from this date in order to use the graduation certificate in lieu of part 61 experience requirements. Part 61.71 spells this out. Unfortunately there is no remedy if the 60 days have passed except to meet part 61 requirements for the certificate or rating sought.

  • Box D must be checked and filled out anytime eligibility for the test is dependent on a foreign pilot certificate. For example, a pilot who holds a FAA restricted Private Pilot Certificate  based on a valid foreign pilot certificate, and who is testing for a FAA instrument rating, must check Box D. In addition, if this box is checked, the pilot must have previously submitted the “Foreign Pilot Identification Form” to the Airman Records Division of the FAA in Oklahoma City. Contact your local Flight Standards District office or for more information. Do not delay submitting this form, it can take up to three months to receive the required letter of authorization to take the checkride. This letter must be submitted to the examiner.

  • Area III should include all pilot time. Only the pilot time required for the test must be entered, but it is best to have all pilot time recorded here. Some day if a logbook is lost or destroyed, the pilot can request a copy of this form from the FAA and use it as an aide to reconstruct the lost logbook.

  • The applicant must sign and date the application and note whether he or she has previously failed a test for this certificate or rating.

  • The recommending instructor must sign and date the form in the applicable area on the back of the form. The instructors name and certificate number must be legible, and the date should be the same or later than the date entered by the applicant on the front of the application.


These are the most common areas of confusion that are seen on the 8710-1 form.




The original copy of the knowledge test report must be presented at the time of application. Make sure that the test report has the testing center embossed seal, which is required and is sometimes missing.




The examiner must verify all the required times in the pilots flight record or logbook and this flight time must be logged in accordance with 61.51. There is a real problem on commercial checkrides with missing experience, so it is best to locate each requirement of appropriate aeronautical experience in the logbook instead of assuming that “it must be there somewhere”. Also a missing instructor endorsement of a dual flight disqualifies it as instruction received. You may round down the required numbers but never round up. 2.9 is not three. A 248NM cross country flight is not 250NM, and make sure that straight-line distances are used for mileages when required.




Next, let’s check required logbook endorsements. It is easiest for the instructor to “think three”, meaning that if there are less than three endorsements for any checkride, we should ask ourselves if something has been omitted.  It is true that the instructor may word endorsements as he or she sees fit, and may combine all the required statements in one endorsement. But why not make it simple for the examiner?


The three are:

1.       A logbook or training record endorsement from the instructor who prepared the student for the required knowledge test (if required), or reviewed the home study course that the student used to prepare for the test.

2.      An endorsement from the instructor who has accomplished the required training and can attest that the student has met all the aeronautical experience requirements, and is competent to perform at the level required for the certificate or rating sought.

3.      An endorsement that states that the student has had training time within the preceding 60 days, that the student is prepared for the test, and has been found knowledgeable in areas shown deficient on his or her airman knowledge test.


This third endorsement is often missing and some instructors don’t seem to understand that it is required. It reflects 61.39 and is always required when an endorsement is required for the checkride. Advisory circular AC 61-65D has the requirement for this endorsement buried in the Prerequisites for a Practical Test paragraph, and perhaps this is why it is so often overlooked. The appendix of this AC has sample endorsements for every other conceivable need except this one, go figure.


Anytime a complex or high performance airplane is used for the flight test, the applicant must be endorsed appropriately, and if it has been more than 24 months since the last checkride, there must be an endorsement for the successful completion of a flight review.


If the checkride is a retest, make sure that the notice of disapproval is available. The examiner must have this in order to give the applicant credit for any previously passed areas. Also, a new application must be filled out, and one additional endorsement must be entered in the logbook.


If the applicant is testing based on graduation from an approved course, the graduation certificate must be presented. Make sure that the flight school has issued a graduation certificate that meets the requirements of part 141.95. Some schools don’t include all the required information and statements on part 141 graduation certificates.


Finally, make sure that the examiners fee is available at the start of the checkride. The fee should be paid when the examiner requests it, which should be sometime before the official start of the test. If the school is paying the checkride, make sure that arrangements have been made to pay the examiner at this time.




To summarize:


1.   Ensure that all aeronautical experience requirements have been met. If there is any question about this, call the examiner and ask for clarification.


2.  Fill out the 8710-1 form carefully and neatly in ink or using a typewriter or computer. Follow the instructions, and once again call the examiner to resolve any questions. Make sure instructor and applicant have signed and dated the application.


3.  Bring the original copy of the knowledge test results and make sure that it has the testing center embossed seal on it.


4.  Bring the graduation certificate, notice of disapproval, or letter of discontinuance if applicable.


5.  Bring the valid letter of authorization received in response to the Foreign Pilot Identification form, if applicable.


6.  Check the logbook for at least three instructor endorsements (under most circumstances).


7.  If the practical test requires a navigational problem (private, instrument, commercial do), have the flight planning complete by the appointment time.


8. Do weight and balance and takeoff and landing distance calculations.  For multiengine tests, calculate single engine climb performance, single engine service ceiling, accelerate/stop distance and accelerate/go distance. If unfamiliar with any of these calculations, remedy the situation prior to the test.


9.   Have a complete weather briefing printed out including charts listed in the PTS if available.


10.  Have all appropriate aircraft maintenance records available.


11.   Have an acceptable view limiting device available.


12.  Bring a valid photo ID, pilot and medical certificates.


13.  Make a final check of all the items in the PTS Applicants Practical Test Checklist.


14.  In this age of increased international security, it doesn’t hurt to have copies of passport and visa if the applicant is not a US citizen. In some cases it may be required.


By double checking these items we can start the practical test smoothly and quickly and make the initial meeting with the examiner friendly and less stressful. Having every T crossed and every I dotted shows the examiner that the instructor and applicant care enough about the practical test to do their homework.  This saves time and effort at checkride time and helps everyone involved to focus on the task at hand, the FAA Practical Test. Good Luck and safe flying.




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 Dick Fechter
(507) 775-7686
139 13th St NE
Byron, MN 5592