I'm a student pursuing a US Private Pilot License, and recently scheduled my checkride. I've been training in a 1981 Piper Warrior (PA-28-161), but if its annual goes sour I may have to take my club's 1980 Piper Archer (PA-28-181). I have well over §61.109's 40 hours in the Warrior alone, and only ~10 hours in the Archer. I have a separate club checkout and CFI solo endorsement for each, they're pretty similar anyway—they're even both the same ATC type (P28A)—but they aren't the same model.

Here's the catch: Form 8710, the "Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application", asks specifically for

[II.A.2.] Total time in this make/model and/or approved FFS or FTD (Hrs.)

Furthermore, according to the IACRA FAQ ("I'm a Designated Examiner. I noticed a mistake when reviewing the IACRA application...."):

A mistake in the applicant's information cannot be corrected after it has been signed by the Recommending Instructor.

My prospective DPE explicitly told me that the backup plane was fine, and I can't find any Part 61 regulations that are specific to experience in one make/model aside from adding an experimental aircraft as part §61.63(h)(1), which is what I assume the box is really for. Of course I'd rather test in my more-experienced plane, but I'm asking specifically for regulations here if Plan A falls through.

Are there any regulations or headaches that I would encounter if I need to change the tail number or model number of my checkride plane and listed hours therein, potentially long after IACRA submission?

  • This is actually an interesting question - From an ATC perspective these are "the same plane" (the type code is P28A), but from an IACRA application standpoint they're categorized as PA-28-140, PA-28-150, PA-28-160, PA-28-180, PA-28-161, PA-28-181... – voretaq7 Apr 9 '14 at 6:28
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    You probably already know this, and it doesn't answer your question, but note that the examiner will expect you to demonstrate understanding of every system in the airplane. I have heard of similar situations for instrument checkrides where a student switched to a different plane at the last minute, the plane had a backup #2 GPS or stormscope or something that their usual training plane didn't have, they didn't know how to use it, and they failed the checkride. (Even though the device wasn't required for IFR.) So make sure you know all the equipment/systems in your "Plan B" airplane! – TypeIA Apr 9 '14 at 13:23
up vote 5 down vote accepted

I came to the same conclusion as you, I don't see anything keeping you from going. You meet the requirements of 61.107 and 61.109, you have recent experience in both aircraft, and as far as make and model, they're both PA-28's. That's like going from a 172B to a 172S: it's the same make and model, Piper just makes it a little less obvious with their nickname and number combinations. If you had trained in a Warrior 160 and an Arrow, it would be a bit different, but only as far as requiring an additional endorsement.

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    Thanks. I agree it's no show-stopper—I can't be the first to encounter this, can I?—but I do wish it were rather more explicit just what to do here. FWIW my CFI did give me a second solo endorsement for the second model, just to be sure. – Jeff Bowman Apr 9 '14 at 6:42
  • I think I agree with your answer, but there can be very significant differences between e.g. a 172x and a 172y (e.g., glass/G1000 vs. traditional panel). Differences big enough to seem significant with respect to private pilot examinations. Same with PA-28-xxx (consider the Dakota, PA-28-236, which has a constant-speed prop and is "high performance", vs. the lower-HP fixed-pitch Warrior/Archers). (Interesting side note, even though the model is PA-28-236, its ATC type code is P28B... hmm.) – TypeIA Apr 9 '14 at 13:14
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    @dvnrrs My inclination is somewhat the same as yours: go by the ATC type code (i.e. consider all the P28A PA-28s to be the same, all the P28B PA-28s to be the same, all the P28R PA-28s to be the same, etc.) for checkride purposes. (For solo endorsement purposes I was endorsed separately for each model I flew (PA28-140, PA28-161, and PA28-180) when I was training like Jeff was - not sure if that's strictly required, but it's certainly not a bad idea.) You could Garminize a 1960 Cessna 172, but it would still be a 1960 Cessna 172 :-) – voretaq7 Apr 9 '14 at 15:59

Epilogue: I confirmed with my phase check CFI (and former DPE) that it's no big deal. She noted that the airplane designation "can be lined through" the day of the test.

In any case, the PPL doesn't mandate experience in a single type of aircraft, and anything one can fly in a PPL checkride requires instruction and an endorsement, so presumably the type can be adjusted even more significantly. (Whether it's a good idea is another matter entirely, but...)

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