Who’s the boss (or, is that PIC)

As is my custom, since I worry about currency and milf…whoops, sorry, I mean MIF ( did I say that) my plane came out of annual a couple weeks ago (lots to talk about there! another thread perhaps, maybe)…

I signed up for a bi-annual and an IpC…after the instructor thoroughly preflighted and flight tested the plane. For the first time in 12years, the flight test resulted in 2 return trips to the mechanic to tweak stuff. Now, it’s declared solid. Ok, let’s go fly…

This was my first time with a young, knowlegable, conscientious (perhaps a tad too much) cfii/atp.

first, 2hours of “ground school”…I needed it. Thanks. Followed by airwork as required…

10 minutes into the flight, mere seconds from joining the localizer, for our first hand flown approach, my accomplished Cirrus instructor decides to tell me how his company does it…power settings, mixture control, cht, egt temps while hand flying our first ils…well, you guessed it…I bombed. BOMBED!..

So much that my new best friend was explaining why he was flunking my ipc and taking away my instrument privileges…whaaaat?

So, devoid of defensiveness, I calmly suggested he let me fly my DAMN plane like I have successfully for over a decade and for him to take a big glass of stfu and let me fly…he said ok…what followed was a sky king performance. Spot on, needles centered…

now the point of this is not condemning my new instructor. I am telling you he’s a pro and knows his stuff. I learned. But, what Iam saying is that it was on me not to have told him sooner, “we now have a sterile cockpit and the next word I want to hear from you is : “good job”! The point? Who’s the boss? Who’s the pic?

Take charge!

Very good point John. I wonder how many of the fatal instructor/ “student” accidents occurred when the student was uncomfortable with what the instructor was doing/teaching? A good reminder that we are the PIC.

I commend you for your restraint. Hopefully this will be the last time you fly with this toxic guy. He instinctively knew just how to screw you up and he went right for it.

You are treading into a gray area here. As you are being evaluated for IPC, your instructor is PIC. You may both log PIC time, but in the past NTSB has ruled CFIs to be responsible for safety of the flight, and hence being PIC.

Here is an excerpt from an article: I look forward to learning from Gordon or Jerry about the specifics here.

As noted, the PIC is “directly responsible for the aircraft’s operation” and “safety of flight.” Accordingly, a determination of the PIC is an essential element of an alleged violation and a critical fact in civil or criminal litigation involving aircraft operations.

Not surprisingly, controversy often arises regarding determination of the PIC in cases involves flight training, when multiple pilots are in an aircraft with dual controls.

In 1977, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board reviewed an FAA order revoking a pilot’s flight instructor certificate following an attempted downwind takeoff wherein the aircraft struck a tree and made a forced landing in a pond past the runway. Challenging that order, the instructor argued that since his student had been certificated as a private pilot and was operating the aircraft controls, the student was the PIC and therefore responsible for the flight’s operation.

The NTSB rejected that argument. It ruled that regardless of who is at the controls during an instructional flight, “the flight instructor is always deemed to be” the PIC “and bears the ultimate responsibility” for the flight’s safe outcome.

See page 54 for my article “Who is really the PIC?” in the November 2011 issue of Cirrus Pilot.

Naw…you miss the point. This is not a legal argument.

The instructor was well-intentioned. He had no malice and was in no way trying to trick me. He was imparting good and valuable information, at the wrong time. He agreed, btw, and I look forward to flying with him again.

The point my good friend, is it does not matter the circumstances - a nagging wife; a crying baby; spilt coffee; a curious passenger; a barking dog; or even a well-meaning instructor, when someone or something is interfering with your ability to carry out your duties, exert yourself, as in hold that thought; or not now darling; or give me a minute; or shut up dog!..fly the plane and make amends later. You are PIC! And, that is the point.

You should read Scott’s article. You were NOT PIC. The CFI was. Case closed.

The way I am reading this is that John allowed a person in the cockpit to distract him. Once he realized that, he politely requested to try again without the distraction.

Wow, Shyam, that really is a narrow lens you are looking through. As mentioned, this wasn’t a legal question of who was technically PIC. John was flying the plane and had the controls and was being evaluated by the instructor who was also making “suggestions”. Just like in any flight exams, it is always appropriate to ask the examiner or instructor to hold that thought for a better moment while you focus on the ever more important job of FLYING THE PLANE. The argument isn’t about a logbook entry, the point is that when it is your job to fly the plane, don’t let non-essentials distract you.

my instructor purposely tried to distract me from doing my job. When I tell him to STFU he smiles and says good job. :slight_smile:

Andrew, I do not have a dog in the fight here. I am only gently reminding John who has repeatedly asserted he was PIC, that actually the CFI was PIC. I have no idea if the CFI was talking to induce a distraction, or just wanted to impart some knowledge. It is perfectly legitimate to create a distraction, which I do as well when giving flight reviews and IPC. It is also incumbent upon the pilot seeking an endorsement to request the CFI to “reduce the volume of distraction.” I have been in a similar situation on the receiving end with a CFI friend, and have learned to tune him out and focus on the task at hand. I know that nothing will stop my CFI friend from sharing some pearls of wisdom from his Navy career just as I am struggling, manually trying to intercept the localizer.

As soon as you can stop a nagging wife, crying baby, barking rescue dog and obnoxious passenger…loud local CTF and tower chatter…

Please post the answer…



Great post!

Your plane. Your hours. Your accumulated wisdom.

Of course you are right. CFI was wrong.

Shameful, really, whoever signed off on this CFI twerp.

Although this is a sidetrack, that is not necessarily so. For example, a CFI who does not have a current medical cannot act as PIC but can legally provide flight instruction. In the case of giving an IPC, that CFI could not put the student under the hood but they could fly in actual IMC if the student was current.

Generally, ambiguity as to who is PIC is resolved by agreement before the flight commences.

Ah, these are such simple cases. How about we have two CFI in the airplane, both guarding the yoke as if their life depended on it, because most of the time it does. The first CFI does the checkout of the second CFI in a flying club. Obviously, being CFIs, they couldn’t possibly talk about such down to earth matters of who is the PIC, because each thinks he or she is or should be PIC … until somebody drives over runway light. Who is the PIC?

  1. CFI being checked out
  2. CFI checking out the other
  3. both
  4. airport ops for putting runway light where it shouldn’t be
    Without doubt, my vote goes to 4.

There is nothing more dangerous than two CFIs in an airplane.

Three CFIs?

Nice job John.

How does he “take away your instrument privileges”? [^o)] Not sign off on the IPC, sure.

I had to do something similar early in my PPL training. CFI was trying to teach me about the sight picture “on the go”. Might have been a no big deal moment for him, but for some with single to just barely two digit hours in the logbook, I was not in a good listen mode at that spot.

I corrected that on the ground and got signed off to solo on the next flight.

I wasn’t PIC. Heck, I hadn’t even solo’d. But I knew I had to take charge if I was going to learn.


To your point as well as Wayne’s immediate comment, this from a Flying Magazine article online today: “Flight reviews and IPCs are not tests and hence a pilot cannot fail one. Instructors with concerns about a pilot’s abilities to safely operate an aircraft will simply not endorse that pilot’s logbook.”

It really sounds like your CSIP (if he is one, or just a CFII) really overstepped his/her boundaries.

Keep moving forward!


John, thanks for recounting this experience. I have had a similar experience before; in the process of getting my CFI.

I also admire how you took the good from the situation and recognized that you could learn something from a CFI who did a bad job on a particular flight.

The more I do this, the more i look back and cringe at some of the instruction I have given and how I could have done a better job. In this case, you both took something away from the experience and that is the essence of what I love about being a pilot in a great aviation culture.

Great job and thanks for sharing.