Examiners often start off the oral portion of a checkride by asking about certificates, documents and airworthiness. That’s how the ACS starts out, and these are relatively easy questions so the applicant gets off to a good start. At the same time the examiner is able to determine that the aircraft is legally airworthy and therefore, pending a favorable preflight inspection, able to be flown for the flight portion of the test.
But lately I have had a lot of airworthiness issues come up during checkrides. They generally fall into two categories; lack of knowledge on the part of the applicant, and the aircraft presented not being legally airworthy.
Let’s consider the knowledge part first, which will in turn lead us to the aircraft. Then I’ll tell you what upsets me the most about this entire situation.
The typical aircraft that comes to me for a checkride is a 2 or 4-place rental trainer. For these airplanes 5 things have to be accomplished on a timely basis and noted in the maintenance logbooks in order that the airplane be deemed airworthy. They are:
- Annual Inspection
- 100-hour inspection if used in commercial service
- Transponder certification
- ELT: Inspected/tested annually and the battery be within its stated life
- Airworthiness Directives complied with
In addition, the plane can’t have any critical safety defects, like cord showing through on the tires.
All the required equipment has to work properly. If it doesn’t it has to be repaired before further flight. If it can’t be repaired at its present location a ferry permit can be obtained from a FSDO to fly the plane to a place where it can be fixed.
Any optional equipment that doesn’t work has to be placarded inoperative or removed from the aircraft. The pitot/static/altimeter certification is not required unless the plane is to be used for IFR flight OR will fly into airspace in which encoding altimeter responses are required (91.213[b]).