Hour Building Update

It has been a while so I thought I would do a quick hour building update. As things stand I have 21 hours left to do to make the 150 required for the CPL to start.

I haven’t been able to fly the share aircraft as it has been away in the shop for at least 2 months due to it having an oil leak. At first, we were limited to 1-hour flights, which of course was a problem for me. Then the plane went for repair but due to the slow movement of the authorisation for repair, it has been gone longer than needed.
It has also made the overall cost per hour rate of that aircraft higher than it should be, due to me flying it less.
I couldn’t afford to wait for the chance that it may be back in time so I am now faced with a 2.5 – 4 hour round trip by car to Blackbushe to fly as well as paying £20 more per hour. All in all, I expect that this has cost me around £1100 in fuel and flight costs and about 1.5 days in time,  so not ideal.
Anyways onto the hour building.

Blackbushe -> Welshpool -> Fenland -> Turweston -> Blackbushe

Ironically this flight was longer than the flight I did as my CPL qualifier. It worked out to be 321 NM as the crow flies as opposed to my CPL qualifier flight which was 305 NM.
welshpool
I never intended to do such a long flight but I needed to build hours for the CPL so it just worked out this way.
I departed Blackbushe and through the Farnborough RA for the airshow. I then did a zone transit of Brize Norton before heading over and into Welshpool (very difficult to spot from the air).
I like Welshpool it is buried in a valley and you have lots of high ground etc to avoid as you are going to it, it was good fun to be fair. I would only head that way on a reasonably decent day.
Next up it was off to one of my favorite airfields Fenland. I departed and then flew east under the Birmingham CTA while speaking to East Midlands Lars. From here it was across past Leicester into Fenland.
When I got the Fenland they had no fuel, therefore I had to add another stop at Turweston, which is possibly the most modern GA airfield in the UK.
The good thing about Turweston is that if you uplift 50L of fuel you get a free landing which was ideal as I never really intended on visiting it this day.
It was getting late at this point so I pretty much took back off and headed back to Blackbushe.
5.1 hours done.

Blackbushe -> Fenland

I just had time for a reasonably short flight so I decided to go back to Fenland and back. The charts all showed that the winds would be calm but when I got up there it was hard work and the plane was a bit all over the place (manageable though).
It is actually good to get up in these conditions I think.
G-CSBM Fenland
I routed again through Farnborough’s RA and up under the London TMA towards MK with a traffic service from Farnborough Lars.
From here I switched to Cranfield but didn’t contact them as they can only offer me a basic service. I listened to them so I could get situational awareness.
As I routed away from Cranfield and into Cambridge area I switched to Fenland. There was 3 of us arriving at the same time. I was number 3 in sequence, mainly due to being the slowest in a Cessna 150. I eventually joined downwind and landed.
I met a really cool guy who had his own RV7 and used to be an airline pilot flying 757’s and 767’s. He had a lot of cool stories to share and showed me around his aircraft. We probably talked for about an hour before we both set of back home.
Not much to say about the return leg as it was the same as before but in reverse.
2.8 hours done.

 

My thoughts on the ATPL theory exams

Well, this post has been a long time coming, it is my thoughts on the ATPL theory exams. To be honest, I wasn’t even totally sure that I was even going to get to write this post due to having 1 exam to pass on my last sitting. However, things went well and I passed it (so happy).
For those who do not know, I did my exams distance learning over the course of about 2 years from the material arriving to having 14 passes in the bag. This was all done around a pretty demanding full-time job.

Navigation planning

1. Distance learning is hard – The ATPL exams are hard, the ATPL exams with a full-time job are intense. Quite frankly, in my opinion, the ATPL exams are not set up for distance learning. Obviously, it can be done, I mean I did it but things like 6 sittings make it very hard for a distance learner.
If you think you are going to do an hour a night and then sail through you are in for a huge shock. You will put in multiple hours every night then even more at the weekend. Sometimes after a long day at work, you just want to lie down and chill but you need to find a second wind and go again. It feels like having two full-time jobs.
Your social life will take a massive hit. Your friends, family etc will need to be understanding and relationships can be affected.
It takes a lot of determination, quite a few people start ATPL exams and never finish them.

2. The exams are a mess – Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT saying that everything in the ATPL exams is pointless and you will never need it.
What I am saying is that the way the exams are organised is basically a shambles. EASA pretty much releases new questions which are often faulty at will and from areas that are not covered in the material you have been given.
You will regularly go into an exam and sit there like what the hell, I’ve never seen this before, and chances are, you wouldn’t have.
On top of this, we have questions that make no sense, questions with more than one correct answer & questions that quite frankly are useless information.
Of course, a lot of the stuff in the exams is relevant and knowledge that you need to have and will need at some point in the future. However, one must question if knowing how long the ICAO president sits for will ever allow me to handle an emergency at 30,000 feet. For those of you wondering, yes, that is an actual question.
The exams vary so much not only from sitting to sitting but from exam to exam. 10 people could sit in the same room and get various exams of varying difficulty.
The exams cost £71, which for a computer-based exam is nothing more than a ripoff, however, should you fail and want them to look at it, you will have to cough up £141! Granted this is refundable IF you are successful but come on, the sum is ridiculous.

3 – The order you sit exams is fixed – This is one of the things that really annoyed me. Your chosen school will break the exams up into a certain order, but this order might not be good for you. I tried to move the communications exams forward but wasn’t allowed to until I had sat he revision week. Granted this is not the schools rule but why can I not sit an exam when I want?

4 – Forced revision week – Revision weeks are a good thing, for some people the classroom environment is where they learn best so it is good for a distance learner to have the option to go into school.
However for others being forced to pay for a hotel and travel to attend is something that is not desirable.

5 – 6 sittings, 4 shots at any exam, 18 months – Yes I get it, the sittings is to create pressure. This is all well and good when you are studying full time, but to be forced to study 3-4 exams while working a full-time job and still do it within 18 months makes the workload very high. As I have stated before you need to be dedicated to get through this.

Now, this is the advice I think might be useful to people just starting out.

1 – You have 6 sittings! – Most distance learning courses are broken down to be completed in 2 or 3 blocks. Personally, I think if you have 6 spread it out a bit. I would say aim to do it in 3 or 4 which still leaves you two or three sittings spare for any resits. I see no reason to pressure yourself into sitting so many exams at once when you don’t need to.

2 – Set a timetable – Set a timetable and stick to it. If you say you are going to study 6pm – 9pm Monday – Thursday and have Friday off then make sure you do that. The material is much easier to digest if you have regular exposure to it.
Remember to take time off though, you need a break also.

3 – Speak to others – EASA are killing the question bank and to be honest nobody can argue with that. It is super important to speak to people who have just sat exams to find out what you might be facing.
Do not take any feedback as gospel, chances are there will be errors in it. Make sure you go through it and look up the information yourself.
Join this facebook group, you will find loads of students sitting the exams also and it is the best resource at the time of writing. The Bristol ATP forum is worth a read also but people seem to be using it less and less now.
I wish the FB group was around when I started my ATPL exams.

4 – They are harder than you think – No matter how hard you think they are at the moment, they will turn out to be much harder than you think. It is just the sheer volume of material that you have to get through that is the problem.

5 – Go to whatever school is best for your circumstances – You will hear people say you have to go to this school or that school. What I have learned is that it is all about the work you put in so I think the school choice is less important.
Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean you should go to any school but the difference between the top schools is most likely minimal with each having their own unique selling points.
Obviously still do your research and get feedback from students but go to the school that is most convenient for you in regards to distance and services offered.

6 – You will not bank/feedback your way through exams – Yes there are videos online and students saying they just hit the banks and got a 97% average on their ATPLS. Well, that was then and this is now.
EASA is releasing something like 2000 new questions a year and tweaking 1500 others. You simply have to learn the subject. The latest feedback will help you see what type of questions people are getting however.
If you have this idea in your head now, you should probably forget it.
This is not saying you still can’t get a high average, of course you can.

7 – Don’t be afraid to ask for help – There are many schools and many private tutors out there so don’t be afraid to ask for some tutoring if needed. Some schools offer additional weekends for you to get the help you need as part of your course.

8 – Go full time if you can – The hardest thing about this was having work in the middle of it all. If I was going to do it again (which believe you me I have no intention of ever doing so) I would most likely leave my job to do so.
This does not mean that you have to go to a ground school, but even full-time distance learning would be more beneficial.

9 – Book exams and revision week early – There is nothing worse than being ready to go to your revision week or ready to sit an exam and see that there are no places left. My advice is to book your revision week and exams when starting a module, you can always move them later if you wish.

10 – The training is going digital only – When I signed up my ground school provider gave you books as part of the package. About a year in they stopped doing that. Remember to check if you get books as part of your learning material or if they are an added extra.

With some dedication, time and a lot of hard work, you too can pass these exams.

ATPL Exam First time and overall pass rates 2013 – 2018

Fresh on the heals on the previous FOI request in regards to the ATPL exams I decided to take it one step further and request the ATPL Exam First time and overall pass rates 2013 – 2018. I feel it is important for this information to be made public and it should be available for all of us to see.

Navigation planning
The first table is the 2013 data and it is in a slightly different format, but it is there and complete.
The second table is the data from 2014-2018.
It is quite easy to see which subjects are the “hardest” by seeing which ones have the lowest first time pass rates.
I will be making another request in January 2019 so we can get a better look at how quadrant has affected things.
Just a FYI this is the UK CAA only.

First Time Pass Rates per Subject – FY 2013/2014 Overall Pass Rate2013/14
Subject Pass Rate Passed 81%
AIR LAW 80.3% Failed 19%
AIR LAW (H) 76.6%
AIRFRAMES/SYSTEMS/POWER PLANT 77.9%
AIRFRAMES/SYSTEMS/POWER PLANT (H) 65.7%
INSTRUMENTATION 69.6%
INSTRUMENTATION (H) 66.8%
MASS AND BALANCE 58.8%
MASS AND BALANCE (H) 72.5%
PERFORMANCE 49.2%
FLIGHT PLANNING AND MONITORING 71.0%
FLIGHT PLANNING AND MONITORING (H) 80.1%
PERFORMANCE (H) 98.0%
HUMAN PERFORMANCE 86.9%
HUMAN PERFORMANCE (H) 92.1%
METEOROLOGY 58.5%
METEOROLOGY (H) 62.6%
GENERAL NAVIGATION 62.8%
GENERAL NAVIGATION (H) 62.1%
RADIO NAVIGATION 78.5%
RADIO NAVIGATION (H) 70.5%
OPERATIONAL PROCEDURES 92.7%
OPERATIONAL PROCEDURES (H) 91.9%
PRINCIPLES OF FLIGHT (AERO) 52.1%
PRINCIPLES OF FLIGHT (HELI) 45.6%
VFR COMMUNICATION 97.9%
VFR COMMUNICATION (H) 98.0%
IFR COMMUNICATION 97.1%
IFR COMMUNICATION (H) 96.8%

 

 Subject 2014/2015 2015/2016 2016/2017 2017/2018
10AA: 010 Air Law 85% 84% 76% 76%
21AA: 021 Airframe/Systems/Power Plant/Electrics 84% 81% 84% 81%
22AA: 022 Aircraft General Knowledge – Instrumentation 74% 80% 76% 74%
31AA: 031 Mass & Balance 75% 82% 76% 72%
32AA: 032 Performance (Aeroplane) 67% 69% 60% 65%
33AA: 033 Flight Planning and Monitoring 76% 85% 75% 66%
40AA: 040 Human Performance and Limitations 91% 86% 78% 75%
50AA: 050 Meteorology 64% 70% 71% 68%
61AA: 061 General Navigation 73% 68% 74% 77%
62AA: 062 Radio Navigation 83% 86% 87% 82%*
71AA: 071 Operational Procedures 89% 84% 81% 78%
81AA: 081 Principles of Flight (A) 59% 62% 62% 65%
91AA: 091 VFR Communications 96% 95% 91% 89%
92AA: 092 IFR Communications 95% 95% 93% 92%
Overall Pass Rate% 89% 88% 86% 85%
*Please note the 2017/2018 FY 62AA includes the PBN subject

ATPL Theory Month 25: POF Results

Hi everyone, a very quick update here for ATPL Theory Month 25: POF Results.

POF – 81%

I have been so stressed with this exam, I have been at it none stop for 8 weeks after failing it twice. However I feel I was much better prepared this time around and even after making a few silly mistakes I managed to pass.
I learnt all the calculations inside out so was very annoyed to see all new types (not new numbers) that I didn’t know how to answer.

However, 2 years after getting the material from Bristol, 18 months after sitting my first exam it is all over! I can have a life, time to see if I actually have any friends anymore…

Now I have 31 hours to build in a month so I am excited to get some flying done!

I will be back with my views on the ATPL’s soon, in the meantime  I have a Jepperson manual that needs to see fire!

ATPL Theory Month 24: POF

Just a quick update from ATPL theory month 24: POF
Fenland

There really isn’t much to say about it really. I have been going all out on what is my last exam trying to get my head around it all.
If I am being honest I think POF got a little neglected, as first time Mass and Balance and Performance took more of my attention and last time Gnav and Flight planning did.
I must admit I am finding it easier to study for just one exam at a time, why we are forced to learn multiple exams at once I don’t really know. This issue is compounded even more when you are working full-time also.
I am making good progress and I feel my knowledge in the subject is increasing and hopefully all will be fine by the time the exam comes round.
It is mad how fast time goes, I am already down to 4.5 weeks till the exam which I plan to sit at the start of July.  Fingers crossed all will be fine and I can put this chapter behind me.
I haven’t really been flying at all as the weather has been a bit hit and miss. I did have most of this week of to get some hours done but the plane now has to go into the shop for it’s 50 hour check and a few other bits, so that’s the end of that one.
Hopefully this month will be more productive as I still have 39 hours I need to build.

 

ATPL Theory Month 23: Sitting 5 Results

Last month was a bit hectic so I didn’t get a chance to do this update. On top of this I sat exams all this week, so here are the ATPL theory month 23: sitting 5 results.

G-ASYP Milton Keynes

GNAV – 78% – I am so relieved to have passed this exam, I dunno why but I have found it very hard and having failed it first time round it is a relief to have it over with.
My brain just doesn’t seem to care for convergency or departure etc but seems I got it together just enough to pass this exam.

Flight Planning – 77% – There was two fuel penalty questions in this exam that I have never seen before and quite frankly were impossible for me to solve due to having no practice. I don’t see anything in the material about them either, apparently it is a new question type. To top this off they were each worth 3 marks each, so not ideal.
Aside from this the exam was pretty fair, with PSR, PET, GAMMA, RCF, 1.3 Trip etc questions.

POF – 70% – Gutted. To get 70% AGAIN on my 5th sitting is not ideal. In fact it sucks! This is now my last exam and I have until July to pass it. For this reason I am not going to rush. I am going to sit it at the start of July, which gives me two months to focus on only POF. I am going to learn this subject inside out!
There were 2 questions which made no sense whatsoever (they seemed to be translated) but I am not going to waste my time (or money) on an appeal.
I dunno what is going on with POF but I know 2 guys who have failed 3 times and one who has failed 2 like me. I guess I’m not the only one who’s struggling. However to be so close really, really sucks. It’s like two questions away.

So yeah 1 exam left, 1 sitting left. I am pretty down at the moment but it could be a lot worse. I just need to become the master of POF in the next two months. I have some accelerator days left at Bristol so I might use one up if I’m struggling.
Hopefully, it will be easier to grasp without the heavy work load of other subjects. I also had a lot going on with work which I think affected me a bit but that’s no real excuse.
Fingers crossed, because there is no possible way I could do all 14 exams again. It really doesn’t bear thinking about.

ATPL Theory Month 22: Gnav, Pof, Flight Planning

22 months? Wow what a slog. Heres a quick recap of ATPL Theory Month 22: Gnav, Pof, Flight Planning.

Well there isn’t really that much to say. I have been trying to get up to speed in  Flight Planning, General Navigation and Principals of Flight but after 22 months I am really struggling now. I am just so tired and worn out that after a day of work I don’t really want to study any more.
Some days I feel good and like I could sit the exam but then a few days later I seem to have forgotten a load of the formula!
I saw that there was a sitting just 3 weeks after the one I was going to sit in so I am now sitting the exams between the 1st and 3rd of May for what I hope will be my final exams.
The scores are going up (slowly) across the 3 so hopefully with one more month I hope I will be in a position to pass all 3.
I haven’t done much flying recently either as the weather has been shocking. I think I have managed a grand total of 2.8 hours this month which when you have about 50 hours to build doesn’t cut it at all. I figured I could get a good 5 hours at least this weekend but of course being a bank holiday the weather is crap.
If this weather doesn’t change in the next month or so I am going to seriously have to consider going abroad to somewhere with better weather (so basically anywhere else).
However first things first I need to pass these remaining exams and actually have something that resembles a life.

ATPL Theory Month 21: Gnav, Pof, Flight Planning

Just a quick recap of ATPL Theory Month 21: Gnav, Pof, Flight Planning.
C150 in flight

After plodding along these exams for what is now the 21st month, I must admit I am losing all enthusiasm for them. However at the same time I am so close to finishing them, that I am doing my best to work hard before what I hope is the final sitting in April.
So far my scores seem to be going up across the 3 subjects and even the dreaded Gnav is starting to make some sense.
The weather across the next week or two is supposed to be awful which means that I can spend more time on the exams and hopefully get the scores where they need to be before April.
Two of the subjects are maths based so they are taking me a bit longer than normal to get up to speed on them but hopefully I will crack them when the time comes. The formula is starting to stick so that’s a promising sign.
I have some accelerator days left with Bristol but to be honest I don’t think I will use them. If necessary I will use them if I have to do another siting but I really hope that it doesn’t come to that.
The exam week is the 2nd week of April so that leaves me with another 6 weeks of hard study left.
Fingers crossed and all that.

ATPL Theory Month 20: Gnav, Pof, Flight Planning

Just a quick recap of ATPL Theory Month 20: Gnav, Pof, Flight Planning.en route gamston

It’s been pretty quiet from me simply because there hasn’t really been anything to say. As per usual the weather at this time of year has been shocking with low clouds, high winds, rain and snow. For this reason I haven’t actually managed to fly since the 9th December.
The shareoplane is away on annual until at least the middle of next month, and I haven’t managed to get down to Blackbushe to finish my flying down there due to the weather conditions.
In regards to ATPL’s I feel I have made alright progress on Gnav with things starting to make sense. Flight planning & POF I am still putting the work in and I feel things are progressing well on those fronts.
I moved my exams back to April. I was working hard to meet this March deadline I had set myself and then it dawned on me, why? I have until July to complete my ATPL exams and I still have 2 sittings to pass these final 3 exams so it makes sense to take time on them rather than rush myself to make a self imposed deadline.
I still have 65 hours to fly before August so I really need the weather to change soon. I am glad I have managed to get a plane closer to home so I can dash to the airfield when a flying opportunity arrives. I also still need to do my CPL qualifier after having radio failure on my first attempt last year.
All in all I would say that things are going alright and with about 10 weeks till I sit the exams I still have some time.

ATPL Theory Month 19: Gnav, Pof, Flight Planning

With the Christmas period done this is a recap of ATPL Theory Month 19: Gnav, Pof, Flight Planning.
mod 3 progress

To be honest there’s not that much to say really. I sat 3 exams at the start of the month which were Operational Procedures, General Navigation and IFR comms. I passed IFR and Ops and failed Gnav.
After this I initially went back to study but I was so tired and burned out I decided to have a rest for the first time. I did no study until the 27th December and may I say it felt great and was needed to be honest. My performance and retention of knowledge had started to fall of a cliff.
This means that the 3 exams I have left are Gnav (resit) Pof (resit) & flight planning.
I am going to do my best to try to be ready to sit these in March which gives me just over 9 weeks to get exam ready. If needed ill push them to April but really I want to try and get these done in March.
I am going to try to study 5-6 days a week and cut out as many distractions as I can aka (tv, youtube, whatsapp, twitter, etc) however I can’t study in complete silence so some music on quietly in the background is essential for me.
I have only done one flight this month due to the weather so hopefully if I can pass these exams in March I can focus on actually doing some flying. As much as learning what convention deals with lost baggage is, I much prefer the flying side of things.
Hopefully the light at the end of tunnel is now getting pretty close.