G-IV Type Rating, Day 20

The end is in sight! It feels like I’ve been living in this Marriott for a month. It’s a nice place. I’ve got probably five hundred feet of space in this suite. They even do the dishes for me. Still, after shuttling between Simuflite and the hotel non-stop for so long, I’m looking forward to saying goodbye to the persistently hot, humid, and windy metroplex that is Dallas.

Day two of our checkride prep was very encouraging. Only made one major mistake, setting up the aircraft for a full rated power takeoff when I was asked to select reduced, or “flex”, power departure. The flex power takeoffs make a V1 cut much easier to handle. Unlike every other multi-engine airplane I’ve flown, power available after an engine failure is not an issue in the Gulfstream IV. The limiting factor is running out of rudder to counteract the yaw from the dead engine. When you consider that the engines are mounted on the fuselage close to the longitudinal centerline, that’s really saying something.

Selecting the wrong power setting made the V1 cut a lot harder for my sim partner. And that brings up my true worry about the checkride: not that I’ll fail the ride myself, but rather that I could do something which would cause him to fail. That’s something I’d really feel bad about! The G-IV is a two-pilot airplane, so even after my sim ride is done (and I’ll be tested first), I still have to bring my “A” game for his checkride. There’s just no way for one person to do it all. This stuff only works well when we’re operating as a cohesive crew with good communication and attention to detail.

When I look back on the last week or so of sim work, what I notice is that you develop a certain amount of tunnel vision when flying left seat. You’re so busy physically controlling the airplane and running the flight that you can easily miss things. That’s where the co-pilot comes in. No matter who’s in the right seat, they invariably seem to catch things that the captain misses, and when that co-pilot isn’t on their game, it’s the captain who suffers. This checkride will be unique in that regard. In the past, a checkride was something I could pass or fail without affecting anyone else. Now, each of us has the ability to sandbag the other guy on their checkride with a simple moment of inattention. The rated vs. flex power issue from today’s flight is an example of that.

After the sim session was complete, we found out who our examiner would be for the checkride. He’s a Simuflite instructor who taught about half of our ground school days. The guy is a little gruff, but I think we impressed him when we got into the sim for the first time about a week into the course. Remember those checklists I wrote about at the time? We managed to whip through them with excellent CRM, and he commented at the time that it was clear we had been working on our flows and that it was definitely paying off.

The checkride is a long affair. If the published schedule is to be believed, it’ll take more than 10 hours from start to finish. Assuming things go well for everyone tomorrow, will the class be in any condition to celebrate, or will we just say our farewells and head out, exhausted?

After today’s session, my partner and I spent another couple of hours in Simuflite’s dining room, reviewing the aircraft systems and limitations. I remember the first time I looked at that sheet. I thought “are they serious?” Were we really supposed to commit all that to memory? Yes, all that… and more. We quizzed each other until our brains were mush. The only thing I need now is a good night’s sleep.

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