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ATPL Exams – Round 1

On 13 April, the ATPL ground school got under way. In the days leading up to it, I felt quite excited about the thought of doing something other than flying. After just a couple of days in the classroom, I wanted to be back in the air again! The days were long, the subjects, whilst interesting, were fairly tricky, and the thought of exams just 7 weeks later was daunting. Rather surprisingly, the first seven weeks passed quickly and the exam week was soon upon us. Earlier this week, we sat Aircraft General Knowledge (76 questions), Instrumentation (56 questions) and Air Law (75 questions).

I am feeling fairly confident about the General Knowledge exam, extremely confident about Air Law (sorry, that sounds almost big-headed) but not at all confident about Instrumentation. I remember making at least two very stupid mistakes and lost count of the number of new questions. By ‘new’, I mean questions that I hadn’t previously seen in the Bristol Ground School ATP question bank. In order to achieve the pass mark of 75%, I could make only 14 mistakes. I keep going over the exam in my head and am convinced that I may have well and truly exceeded that. The exams took place at the University of South Florida in Lakeland, which wasn’t too bad.The only real problems were the two power cuts during the Air Law exam, plunging the room into complete darkness both times!

With the exams out of the way, I have tried to squeeze in a few flights to build my hours, but with little luck. Since passing my private pilot checkride back on 9 April, I have clocked up a miserable 6.4 hours of pilot-in-command time. The biggest disadvantage of the ATPL ground school is that it puts a stop to all flying during the week. Two recently planned cross country flights had to be binned because of the weather and that means you are required to wait at least another week before trying to get up again. Earlier this week, I managed to get up for 1.1 hours, staying in the pattern and going over takeoffs and landings again. It was my first flight in two and a half weeks so it made sense to go over this rather important phases of the flight! The aircraft – N148ND – was a lucky one for me as it was the same plane that I took my checkride in 8 weeks before.

Our next ATPL module kicks off on Monday 8 June with Meteorology, Principles of Flight, IFR/VFR Communications and the dreaded General Navigation (or ‘GNAV’).

For anybody else studying for the JAA ATPL, Bristol Ground School’s question bank is highly recommended ( A 90-day subscription costs £50 (or €72) and you are given the choice to pay in either currency. Go for sterling as you will save yourself a little cash. The question bank has thousands of questions about every topic covered in the ATPL exams and based on the three exams I have sat already, 80-90% of the questions were the same as those on Bristol – word for word.

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