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Instructor and Examiner as Gatekeeper

Posted 2 years 189 days ago ago by Admin

I recently received an email from a CFII by the name of Matthew Goodrich who felt compelled to write after reading my article, Knowing it’s time to hang up the Headset that appeared in the July/Aug 2020 issue of Rotorcraft Pro Magazine. Matthew wrote to say: “Great article Randy. You mention basic criteria for passing/failing a pilot in a checkride. Do you think instructors should evaluate the same basic criteria (judgment) when endorsing someone for checkride? Or do you think instructors should focus on clear standards and leave judgment of the bigger picture to examiners? It's likely not as black and white as I'm asking.

Hi Matthew, thank you for your excellent question regarding instructors leaving the standards and judgment of a student up for a check ride to the examiner. As instructors, when we put a student up for a check ride, we are in effect saying, "In my judgment this individual has met the standards and the decision-making criteria to successfully and safely pass this ride." It is an instructor's assessment of the individual from their time spent instructing them and observing them during those hours of training that they are certifying that that the individual meets that standard. I would answer your question by saying that an instructor must know in his mind the student will pass the ride because they have satisfied the skill and decision-making requirements to make them worthy and able to take one's loved one on a flight with full confidence that they will bring them back safely. As instructors we act as gatekeepers of the public trust with the knowledge that we will only put an individual up for evaluation by an examiner (who is the final link in the line of defense) to ensure only the safest, most knowledgeable candidates are put forward to take on the heavy responsibility of being entrusted with the lives of those whom they carry.

This follow-on reply from Matthew; Thank you, Randy, for the detailed response. I like how you describe instructors as gatekeepers of the public trust. It is a heavy responsibility. Often there is pressure on the other side of the 'gate', ranging from finances to ambition. But this is another example of needing to detect pressures and prevent them from affecting our decision making, similar to what we learn as pilots. It helps to consider instructors and examiners as a team in protecting this trust, with instructors having a broader view.

Matthew highlights an important point that instructors and examiners are a team. I couldn’t agree more.

About Randy:
Randy Mains is an author, public speaker, and a CRM/AMRM consultant who works in the helicopter industry after a long career of aviation adventure. He currently serves as chief CRM/AMRM instructor for Oregon Aero. He may be contacted at [email protected].