My CAT-3 fail!

My CAT-3 fail!

Postby machadopfz » Fri Sep 21, 2018 7:38 pm

Good evening everybody,

This post could be considered a rant, or could be considered food for thought, either way, my objective is simple, to bring a little bit of perspective to PE staff. Hope this helps somebody.

Today, I tried my CAT-3 rating, and while at my second traffic pattern, I heard the dreaded words "it's a fail, I'll explain why when you get to the ramp." A gazillion things went thru my mind, but I really wasn't sure of what I did so wrong that a FAIL was in order, so I was very eager to hear what happened, where I messed up, and how I could improve.

After landing and getting to the ramp, the controller asks me if I was familiar with what the PTS ("Practical Test Standards") was, to which I replied back, yes I know what it is. He then asks me if I know what is the distance that I need to stay within while doing traffic patterns? I wasn't 100% sure at all, so I told him that I believed it was within a distance that given an engine failure I could make it back to the runway. He mentioned standard 12 in the PTS. Which I'm copying here for illustration purposes:

"12. Pilots operating in the traffic pattern shall operating their aircraft in compliance with AIM recommendations.

a. Pilots will comply with the published airport pattern direction or ATC assigned pattern direction.

b. Pilots shall fly their downwind leg at an appropriate distance from the runway (approximately ½ to 1 mile).

c. Pilots shall fly a rectangular pattern and make appropriate wind corrections."

He said that I flew my pattern with 1.5 NM legs not only once but twice and that for that reason, he had to fail me, because PE has to do stuff like in the real world and I was out of the standards. We exchanged some thoughts, I got to ask him some questions as a student of the art of flying, he gave me his thought on it, I said thanks and disconnected from the session.

Now, before this turns into "Battle Royale" I believe PE has some amazing controllers, I believe everybody is extremely professional and I'm nothing but happy to have found PE and being able to fly from the comfort of my home. I also appreciate the fact that everybody is trying to be as professional as possible and have nothing bad to say about PE, or the staff.

However, I do want to make a couple of points for future reference, and like I said at the beginning, I hope this helps somebody, either another virtual pilot, or PE staff, or maybe I'm just ranting, I don't know.

My points are these.

Point #1: PTS standard #12 says "Pilots operating in the traffic pattern shall operating their aircraft in compliance with AIM recommendations." This is of utter importance in this post, these are "recommendations" these are not requirements, nor is this the way every traffic pattern should be flown, why? Because every pilot is different, every airplane is different, every situation is different. The point of having recommendations is to give pilots a guidance of where to start. However, it is common practice to trust the pilot judgment up to certain point of course. Furthermore, 12.b says "Pilots shall fly their downwind leg at an appropriate distance from the runway (approximately ½ to 1 mile)" emphasis on "approximately". Do I believe a 5 mile traffic pattern makes any sense? Not really. Do I believe 1.5 NM is ok? You bet! Is it perfect? Probably not. Then you got the issue of equipment, on a VFR flight in an airplane not equipped with a GPS, how could I measure exactly 1 mile from the runway? I would have to eye ball it, which brings me to my second point.

Point #2: Flying in a simulator has some limitations. For example, I'm flying with no rudder, with an old joystick that after years of use it turns left even when it is on the neutral position. The way I move my "virtual head" is with the pan option on top of this joystick and I have a left wing and right wing view configured with my EZ-Dock (thank goodness for this add-on). It is extremely difficult to do some of this stuff with 100% precision while having to deal with basic limitations like not being able to see what's going on by simply moving your head. So, how could I eye ball a mile from the runway?

Again, I appreciate the fact that PE staff is amazingly professional, and the fact that I failed the rating makes me want to be a better virtual pilot, but I truly believe, sometimes, a little bit of perspective is needed. Do I think is unfair and unjustifiable? Of course I do. But then, I'm not the examiner.

So for my fellow virtual aviators, perfect practice makes perfect. I should've flown the pattern at least a good ten times before trying for the rating and that's my fault, but even then I would've probably failed because I would've never thought about measuring the exact distance from the runway. So if you are going to try for the CAT-3 make sure you perfect practice, and stay within 1 NM from the pattern and one more thing, make sure you " a rectangular pattern and make appropriate wind corrections" which to be honest, was the reason I thought I failed at the very beginning cause given my "simulator limitations" my pattern work probably looked nothing like a rectangle.

Lastly, for the amazing peeps at PE, you guys are great, I don't know the name of the controller, but he too is great and I really appreciate your input and teachings at the end of the session so thank you.

Hope I didn't bore anybody, thank you, and good night!

Mauricio Machado
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2018 6:45 pm

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