We Are All On The Same Team


We Are All On The Same Team~Guest Blogger Randall Williams, CFII/MEI

If I could say anything to new instructors, I would say that (in addition to being super aware and not letting students kill you) our relationships with examiners will determine so many things about what we as instructors are able to accomplish. Finding examiners that we can work with as a team - and nurturing those relationships (i.e. NETWORKING) - is a big piece of doing this job well.

How well do we ACTUALLY know the examiners we’re sending our fledgling flyers to? Can we not just work within their busy schedules, but also understand/anticipate their needs and requirements? How do we meet each other as professional individuals out to accomplish mutual goals albeit through different procedural lenses? Do we know the examiner's priorities? Finally, how do we as flight instructors consciously extend our reach to meet new DPEs and expand our own horizons? It is only through establishing personal relationships that both parties can begin to answer these questions, but this takes time, effort, and primarily starts with the efforts of the instructor themselves.

Of course, every designee follows the ACS/PTS; however, I know one examiner who failed a candidate for landing with a tailwind at a non-towered field, and another who failed an applicant for not reducing a throttle all the way to idle on a Vmc recovery. In conversations with examiners I know, there is a varying degree of agreement with the original DPE in the moment judgement call.

Often, learning a DPE's subjective pet peeves or personal special emphasis areas is only possible because of a working relationship with THAT examiner. Eventually, the examiner and instructor work to a level of comfort to be able to schedule training with students who come from out of town, trust that we can get them a ride, and we are less likely to be surprised by a different interpretation of the ACS.


Now I am not saying that any of these examples are right or wrong, or an indictment on any DPE’s judgement, but is there room for more consistency and less subjectivity on a check-ride? Absolutely! Can this consistency be passed on to instructors sending applicants on checks? 100%! Through the effort of networking and teamwork between all parties (instructors, examiners, and students) a positive outcome and achievement of everyone’s mission can be accomplished to a higher degree of success. I wish I had understood that early on; it would have made a big difference in my teaching career.

Randall Williams NOTAMSRandall Williams, CFII/MEI
NAFI# 222907






Blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace independent, professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinions or position of the National Association of Flight Instructors. NAFI does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented. Readers should note content may appear in various media, including print, email, enews without further notice.

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Comments on "We Are All On The Same Team"

Comments 0-5 of 5

Randall Williams - Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Frank, thanks for your kind words - how fun to see you comment here. I’ve come close to recommending an applicant to you - we ended up going to CJ because of a scheduling thing, but I do have a copy of that list! My colleagues say nice things about you, I’m looking forward to meeting you one of these days.

Michael Montes - Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Great read Randall and an awesome reminder for new CFI's out there! Networking and Professionalism is key in the field of aviation.

Ean Sugarman - Friday, June 18, 2021

As a newly minted CFI, this information and their associated comments are invaluable. Thank you!

John Niehaus - Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Frank, I love the idea of providing students not with a gouge, but an outline of areas that people tend to struggle with! As you said it helps the student and instructor by knowing what to put extra time on, without allowing memorization of the checkride. Nice Work!

Frank Gallagher - Thursday, May 13, 2021

I could not agree with Randall more. As a DPE in the Orlando FSDO, I do not test applicants until I have relationship with their CFI. I find that this is the path to success, prevents a number of misunderstandings, and furthers the learning environment. Holding myself to the same standards, I teach my CFI's that anything they do has to be backed up by the many FAA publications. This provides a common frame of understanding and gets everyone in the books. I addition, I have a list of the "weak areas" that are encountered on checkrides, and provide this to the CFI's to use as a guide, besides the ACS/PTS requirements. Those CFI's who take the additional step of reviewing this list have found it to be very successful in their preparation of their students. Fly safe! Frank Gallagher DPE, Orlando FSDO

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