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THROUGHOUT THE TRAINING LIFE CYCLE of a student pilot, the instructor will be required to provide endorsements in the student’s training record. These endorsements will include confi rmation of citizenship, preparedness to take a knowledge exam, and most importantly, the fi nal confi rmation that a student is prepared to sit before the FAA for a practical examination toward airman certifi cation. It sounds simple enough, however endorsements remain a weak link among many fl ight instructors.

When conducting a fl ight instructor practical test, I will provide the applicant with a scenario at the beginning of the exam. It is designed to include all areas of operation and tasks as outlined within the FAA Flight Instructor Practical Test Standards (PTS). The design of the scenario is simply to capture a day in the life of a fl ight instructor. Anyone that has held the position of ab initio fl ight instructor will understand that very few days are the same. With each student comes a set of challenges that are not only training related, but also encompassing regulatory and other issues as well.

Here’s the start of a sample scenario: An Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) applicant with 3,000 hours in airplanes wants to obtain Commercial Pilot Helicopter certifi cation in a Robinson R22. What is required from the fi rst day of training to the day he or she is presented to the FAA examiner?

Some topics covered in this scenario are SFAR 73 and Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) that include 61.35, 61.39, 61.63, 61.125, 61.129 … and many others. Of particular interest in this scenario is the FARs that would endorse the pilot to solo a helicopter. In many cases, fl ight instructor applicants view the pilot as a Student Pilot, when in fact he or she holds an ATP certifi cate. In reality, once a pilot holds any grade of pilot certifi cate above that of a student, the applicant will no longer be considered a Student Pilot with regard to Part 61 regulations.

Training Musings By Randy Rowles

ENDORSEMENTS The Weakest Link for Many Instructors

To be more specifi c, let’s refer to the FARs governing a Student Pilot. Contained within FAR Part 61/Subpart C/Student Pilots, the FAA outlines specifi c regulations regarding student training. This includes endorsement procedures for solo fl ight (FAR 61.87) and solo cross-country (FAR 61.93), among other topics. As per the title of this subpart, it refers to holders of Student Pilot certifi cates. If your student holds a pilot certifi cate other than Student Pilot, this subpart would not apply.

So, how would you endorse a FAA-rated pilot to solo in a diff erent category/class of aircraft? If you refer to FAR 61.31(d)(1-2), the answer will be found. Additionally in the scenario provided above, the applicant is seeking a Commercial Pilot Helicopter certifi cate. To be eligible for the practical test, ground and fl ight training must be completed and logged accordingly. However, since the applicant is seeking a grade of certifi cate other than ATP, you must also endorse the applicant I/A/W FAR 61.63(b) & (c) as well. Each of these endorsements are readily available within FAA Advisory Circular 61.65E.

As you can see, endorsements can be confusing. It is important to remember that an endorsement is your certifi ed statement that you provided the training to the applicant as directed by the applicable FAR. Endorsing a student for a privilege or training event incorrectly during your fl ight instructor practical exam may earn you a pink slip … but the same mistake as the fl ight instructor of record may cost you a career!

Randy Rowles has been a FAA pilot examiner for 20 years for all helicopter certifi cates and ratings. He holds a FAA Gold Seal Flight Instructor Certifi cate, NAFI Master Flight Instructor designation, and was the 2013 recipient of the HAI Flight Instructor of the Year Award. Rowles is currently director of training at Epic Helicopters in Fort Worth, Texas.

50 July 2015

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