Ask and Examiner: How Long Is The Average Checkride?

Ask an Examiner: How Long Is The Average Checkride?

Noah Haydn-Myer is our featured Designated Pilot Examiner this month.  Noah has been a DPE for 7+ years and has conducted hundreds of checkrides in Robinson Helicopters. Our featured question this month is:
How long is the average checkride?
There are several factors that will affect the length of the oral and skill portion of the checkride. Let’s first discuss the oral portion, in this case I’ll be referring to a Commercial Helicopter Pilot checkride. 
Initial Commercial Pilot applicants must be evaluated in ALL tasks included in the Areas of Operation of the Practical Test Standard unless otherwise noted. Under some Areas of Operations listed in the PTS, you’ll see a “NOTE”, which determines the tasks that must be completed in the Area of Operation and which are at the discretion of the Examiner. The applicant will not know which tasks will be selected, therefore requiring they prepare for each one. Additionally, a pilot holding a Commercial Pilot Certificate in a separate category and class prior to initiating a commercial helicopter practical test would refer to the additional rating task table listed in the PTS. However, the DPE could elect to perform all Areas of Operations at their discretion, so it behooves the applicant to prepare for all tasks listed in the PTS even when conducting an add-on.
Now that we understand the topics that must be discussed, let’s talk about what affects the length of the checkride. In my opinion, the main factor is the applicants preparedness. If the individual is well prepared and displays good understanding of the topics, the ground can go quickly. If however, the applicant is extremely nervous or not as well prepared it can take longer to perform all of the necessary tasks. On average, the oral portion of my Commercial Pilot checkrides take approximately 2 hours. I’ve experienced as short as 1.5 hours and as long as 2.4. 
The skill or flight portion of the checkride also has many variables that could affect time. These include, wind, weather, how fast the applicant fly’s, ATC delays and the location of suitable areas that will allow for all maneuvers to be tested. I can only speak of the checkrides I perform in my region. With that said, a typical Commercial Pilot flight portion of the checkride takes approximately 1.2-1.4 hours.