Real Answers from Real Pilots

Two failed evals, will I be removed from program?

Hello all,

I am a fast track student who started June 21. Tomorrow is my pre-solo evaluation and I am quite worried. It took me two tries to pass the TOL eval as I struggled some with landings and I seem to have taken a step back on the last two flights (especially with crosswind). My pattern looks great, I just struggle with the last twenty feet or so. If I fail the eval tomorrow will I be removed from the program? I’ve read that it could happen and I know I’ll have to speak with my TSS (and possibly TSM). I’ll also note that, despite failing an eval, I am only one day behind in the program. I want nothing more than to stay and make my dream a reality, but I am concerned. I know ATP stresses that they honor your investment and don’t want you “wasting your money”, but I am completely fine with any overage fees that may incur. Especially considering that I am roughly $14k in debt at this point with 48 hours of training and may have to start from scratch at another school.

Lastly, I feel like someone may reply and say, “Well you may not be cut out for this. The airlines are fast-paced as well and if you can’t keep up here, you will struggle there as well.” I totally understand that, but it really is just the landings and I don’t feel I am far off. This wasn’t the start I was hoping for to say the least, and maybe I’m just being delusional… what do y’all think? Do I still have a shot at remaining in the program with two “UNSAT” evals? Thanks!

Matthew,

“Just” the landings? The landings are kind of a big deal don’t you think? I mean you can pretty much grab anyone off the street, sit them up front and talk them through an entire flight, it’s those last “20 feet” when things get interesting. Not trying to discourage you, nor am I saying “you’re not cut out for this” but let’s also acknowledge the landings are in fact a pretty big deal.

That all said as you say you’re going to need to have this conversation the TSS and maybe the TSM. I believe if they can get you over this hump you should be allowed to continue, but none of us are there nor have we flown with you. Not saying you’re assessment is wrong, I’m just saying there may be more to it.

You clearly have a good attitude and that’s half of the battle. You need to listen to your instructors and control the airplane. That may sound incredibly simple but that’s something I’ve observed in students over the years. They know what they need to do or want the airplane to do but they’re not being assertive enough to make that happen so the airplane is flying them rather then them flying the plane. If your going to be a pilot you must control the airplane and you need to understand that.

Adam

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Thank you for the time. I should’ve clarified better but my issues stem from the point of the round out to touchdown. A very specific timeframe where I just don’t have the 100% consistency required for solo. It is very frustrating, indeed. I just hope I grasp the concept before it is too late!

Matthew,
I’m a former lead instructor and I’ll try to provide you some insight.
First of all, before your solo eval make sure that the wind limitations are within the ATP solo limitations. This will ensure you the best possible conditions to show what you can do.
Second, try to relax and focus on one landing at a time. The eval criteria can seem quite daunting but just focus on one landing at a time. If things start at rough, show good decision making. Don’t ever force the landing just to say you did it. The lead would rather see a go around time and time again instead of any forced landings. If you’re not attaining the landings per the criteria, keep trying. If you’re showing considerable progress from the beginning of the flight to the end, that could help your case towards retraining and re-eval.
Third, if you do end up “Unsat”, your fate isn’t sealed. You will probably end up having a meeting with your instructor, lead, TSS and TSM. If you aren’t already on a TIP (training improvement plan) they could issue you one. It has a goal, and very specific training steps to complete towards that goal with a deadline being a re-eval. After a second Unsat Eval, program termination is a possibility but each students program is a separate case.
Hope this helps! Good luck!

-Hannah

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Matthew,

When I was in training at ExpressJet, I really struggled with the landings, too. I had to have two extra trips to be signed off to go to the line. I was just like you, everything was fine until the last 20 feet. Finally it just clicked for me. Hang in there and ask about purchasing some extra time if you need it. Do not me afraid to talk to the TSS or TSM, they are there to help you.

Chris

Matthew,

I noticed when I was first having trouble getting that perfect landing as a private student, and sometimes still, it was because I forgot to transition my eyes from my aiming point to the opposite end of the runway. Next time you are at rotation height think about doing that. Don’t get too frustrated, we all have those days where something just isn’t clicking. Take all the mentors advice and believe in yourself.

Josh

Hi Matthew,

Landing was a big hurdle for me as well. I was definitely “afraid of the ground”, as my instructor would put it. Transition your eyes as Joshua mentioned can help a lot, if you keep your eyes on your aiming point until it’s too late you are either going to fly your plane into the ground or get scared and yank on the yoke too hard. The tricky part is of course judging when to transition your eyes, maybe that’s something you can work on with your instructor.

The other thing to think about is are you truly consistent in your pattern? I’m not just talking about tracing a rectangle on the ground but are you hitting your target altitudes and speeds? Because the round out can feel very different if your final approach speed is inconsistent, even by just 5kts. It’s something else to discuss with your instructor and get their feedback, sometimes they know it’s going to be a poor landing well before the final round out even though the student only feels and retains that last few moments before touchdown.

Finally I’ll leave you one last tidbit my instructor gave me, “don’t think about landing the plane, you are transitioning to slow flight over the runway, landing is just a byproduct.” Maybe that is useful for you, maybe not.

Good luck and don’t get discouraged, but do try and figure out what you can do to improve, and what you can change to achieve a different outcome.

Alex

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Hey Matthew, welcome to the forum.

We’ve all struggled with landings at one point, I’ve seen some students go power to idle and have that urge to pull back when they’re 50’-100’ on final, I have to remind them to keep the nose down. We all have those “not so good” landings where we may float or balloon because we have too much energy coming into the transition, but it’s okay…it’ll get better with time.

I watched a lot of The Finer Points, MzeroA, Fly8MA to help me understand landings. When I was in CFI Academy, my 2-year instructor gave me a good pointer. When you’re landing is assured and you go power to idle, keep that nose down (fight the urge) and once the runway fills your windscreen start to transition not only your eyes, but the airplane into the round-out. Utilize your peripheral vision to see the ground grow outside of the plane, see buildings get taller as you get lower, visual cues should be your focus on landing. Yeah getting the airspeed appropriate and altitude is important, but feel the plane, hear the RPMs when it should show the airspeed you want to achieve and use visual cues like the horizon for straight-and-level and the wing/strut to find your distance from the runway…I stress heavily in all my lessons visual cues, sometimes taking away a PFD making my students land based on sound, feel, and visual cues. It only makes their landings better as they’re not fixating on the instruments.

There are exercises that you can use to help get your sight picture perfect when transitioning, I’ve done slow flight a couple feet off the ground down a 10,000ft runway demonstrating to my students what they’re looking for when we touch down.

Please let us know how things go and if you have any other questions.

Brady

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