ATPL Theory Month 15: Mass and Balance, POF, Performance and VFR Communications

Another month down so a quick recap of ATPL Theory Month 15: Mass and Balance, POF, Performance and VFR Comms.
atp digital complete
So it’s already exam time again, next week I will be sitting the above four subjects. The reason for this is to try to avoid some of the new changes that are coming in the Quadrant system. I mean even if I pass all of these I still have 4 exams left that will be on that system but I didn’t see the point of sitting exams in their first month on the new system, especially as we all know how the CAA tend to mess things up.
Note – VFR Communications will be on the Quadrant system.
So it has really been a month of trying to cram as much knowledge as possible in my head and try to get up to speed on these exams.
Quite frankly, I am not sure how these exams will go. I am doing my best to be as ready as I possibly can and will give them by best effort of course.
I have heard VFR communications is nothing like what we are used to so that is a bit worrying to say the least.
I have Mass and Balance on Monday, Principles of flight (POF) on Tuesday, Performance on Wednesday and VFR communications to round things of on Thursday.
If every thing goes ok then I hope to sit the final exams of General Navigation, Flight Planning, Operational Procedures and IFR communications in December.
Finger crossed and all that 🙂

Join the discussion 🙂 Sign up to the new Flight Training Forum

Subscribe to Modular Pilot via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to Modular Pilot and get the latest content right in your inbox.

Hour Building: Blackbushe to Gamston with Radio Failure

Yesterday the forecast looked good so I attempted to do my CPL qualifier but it ended up being Hour Building: Blackbushe to Gamston with Radio Failure.
The route was going to be Blackbushe -> Gamston -> Shobdon -> Blackbushe.
I got to Blackbushe nice and early did all my checks and booked out and set of for Gamston. This was to be the longest flight I had ever done my far and this leg was to be the longest leg.
As the flight was progressing I thought what a nice day it is, winds were calm and sky was clear (until about Leicester).
As I routed up and under the london TMA, to the west of Cranfield, the west of Sywell and to the east of Leicester all was fine.
en route gamston
I was then heading towards Gamston with a service from East Midlands Lars who notified me that my readability was 3 and they were having trouble hearing me. I tried all the usual things, take the plugs out and back in, change the side they are in, use the other transmit button and restart the radio to no avail. Then the worst happened, the radio completely died, nobody could hear me at all. I tried for about 5 mins to raise someone before I realised that it wasn’t coming back so I squawked 7600 (radio failure).
As I wasn’t that far from Gamston I decided to continue routing there. As I was squawking 7600 it turns out that Doncaster had already alerted Gamston that I might be diverting and were also worried that I might possibly infringe their airspace as obviously nobody could raise me. (I was aware of the airspace).
We actually managed to raise Gamston on the telephone also.
I arrived and did all my blind calls as I would normally but I’m sure nobody could hear me and landed and taxied to park.
It’s stange how alone you feel when you are not able to talk to ATC or other aircraft, it’s a bit of a weird feeling tbh.

Gamston were amazing, very helpful and refused to charge me a landing fee. They even tried to contact a radio engineer for me but unfortunately he was away. If anyone is planning a flight in that area please go and visit the good folk at Gamston!

Anyways after a while we fueled the plane again and tested the radio, it worked first time. Weird!
I then decided to head back up with the agreement from the guys at Gamston that if it failed within about 30 mins I would return.
We made it up and all seemed to be going well for 15 mins but then bam, it went again nobody could hear me so it was back to Gamston again.

Me looking disheveled at Gamston. The state of me ha!

I got on the ground thinking, I am a long way from home, even further from my car, this could be a very expensive day.
I started talking to another pilot about my predicament and he put me in touch with a guy who lent me an air ground radio. The guy who lent me it is Tony at Skytrain. I offered to leave a deposit etc but he wouldn’t hear of it. What a guy! To trust a stranger with £200-£300 worth of equipment is just an amazing thing these days and I couldn’t be more thankful. This will be going back to him first thing on Tuesday special delivery with a thank you!
Now that I had the radio I tested it and set of again for a third time. By this point it was too late in the day to finish the CPL qualifier so it was straight back to the bush.
I took off and the radio was working again, so I stuck with that, I made it all the way to the airspace of Farnborough North when yes you guessed it, it failed again. At first it was a complete failure so I tried the hand held radio on which Farnborough couldn’t hear me, I guess I was out of range for that.
Then a few mins later it came back to readability 3 which was just enough to get me back. Farnborough were understanding and got the join instructions from Blackbushe and made them aware of what was going on just incase the radio went again.
So all in all a very eventful day and definitely a lot of learning for me.
Even though I never got my CPL qualifier done, I did manage 4.4 hours of flight time, which is the most I have ever done with two very long legs!
I guess the CPL qualifier will have to wait for another day.

Module 3 revision week at Bristol Ground School

So I have just returned from my module 3 revision week at Bristol Ground School.
Bristol Ground School
Being a good 5.5-6 hour round trip I must say I am glad the this is the 3rd and final revision week that I have to attend.
Normally when I have attended modules 1,2 & 3 have been run at the same time, however this time we were the only ones in the school.
First thing I want to say is that there was a guy who was 51 on this course. I point this out as I get a lot of mail from people asking if they are too old, some are only in their mid 20’s!
This course was a 5 day assault on the brain, with non stop facts, figures and graphs being presented in Priciples of Flight, Performance and Mass and Balance.
There is no revision of communications done on this course, which I find weird as I tried to book VFR communications as part of my mod 2 exams but was told to move it till after this revision week, where we did nothing on it?
We had a good mix of people with military, PPL’s and conversion. 1 of the guys converting was flying the A320 in Brazil and another had worked for Boeing for years and was now the technical pilot for an airline.
Day 1 was all Operational Procedures, then day 2 was Mass and Balance and performance. Day 3 was all performance, day 4 was all Principles of Flight and day 5 was Principles of Flight and Mass and Balance.
My the end of the week my brain was bogged down.
My exams are booked for the first week of September and I have Mass and Balance on Monday, POF on Tuesday, Perf on weds and VFR communications on Thurs.
These exams will be the last ones on the currently multiple choice system as at the end of September they will be moving to the quadrant system.
This weekend will be spent doing Mass and Balance as it’s gotten neglected this week. Going forward till the exams I will get up at 5am to do Mass and Balance and then alternate Performance and Principles of Flight daily up until the exams. I will do 1-2 VFR communications practice tests a day as they don’t take too much time.
If this weather ever changes, I might actually get to build some hours too!

ATPL Theory Month 14: Mass & Balance, Performance, POF and VFR Comms

Another month down so this post is just a quick recap of ATPL theory month 14: Mass & Balance, Performance, POF and VFR Comms.
atp digital complete

As you can see I have completed the theory requirements in the app, however I still have 8 exams to sit 🙁
This month I finished the material in the ATP digital app which is a prerequisite of attending the brush up courses at Bristol. I am actually heading down to Bristol tomorrow as the mod 3 course starts on Monday.
This month has been full of question practice and googling things trying to get my head around some concepts.
Maths  is not my strong point so mass and balance is taking a lot of my time but thankfully my exams are not until early September so I still have over a month to get my head around what I need to.
In regards to POF and Performance I am getting better and it just seems to be a case of keep working on questions, looking things up and googling till the concept comes into my head.
VFR communications is going well so far, I am still making the odd silly mistake but this would be the exam I am feeling the most confident about at the moment.
I have more time than usual to study this month due to the poor weather. Hour building is proving to be a real slow process in the UK this year. As I sit looking out the window it’s grey skies, overcast and raining, useless for VFR flight.
I am hoping the school has some tips and tricks to share with me next week to make processing this easier, time will tell.

SkyDemon Review

So I am late to the game on this one but this is my SkyDemon review.
Skydemon Android
Now I am sure most of you are familiar with this software and most likely have used it a lot more than I have. I also know that there is a large group of people who are about to scream “children of the magenta line” or “maps and CRP”, however this is 2017 and not 1950 when the skies were clear and you could fly where you like. Both GPS and old school navigation techniques are needed.
I recently changed my home airport from Cranfield where there isn’t much restricted airspace around to Blackbushe where Heathrow, Gatwick, Oxford, Southampton and RAF Odiham are both literally on the door step along with all the restricted airspace that these airports bring not to mention danger zones etc. So as you can see it is a much busier restricted environment and you run the risk of airspace infringements more easily.
For these reasons I decided to invest in SkyDemon, a product that I have heard so much about and that I have never heard anyone say a bad word about. The cost is £139 for the first year and then £89 for subsequent years. I also brought a dedicated iPad mini 2 with LTE which is only for my flying apps so it doesn’t get fill up with the other rubbish. It is only 16GB but when you use it like I do that is more than enough. The 4G part is important as it is only these cellular devices that have the inbuilt GPS in the iPad’s. If you have a non cellular iPad then you will have to buy an external GPS receiver, but with Apple being Apple only certain (expensive) ones work.
NB – SkyDemon supports iOS, Android and Windows so you are not limited to an iPad. However, SkyDemon themselves state that the iPad is the best device to run it on and it also seems to have the least issues. I am an Android fan but I believe every pilot needs an iPad anyways.
In the cockpit I use a kneeboard mount which works great as I only need to glance at it every so often as my eyes are outside or on the instruments the majority of the time (as they should be). My mobile phone (Android) has it installed as backup but I haven’t actually used it on this device in the air.
NB – I always have my map with me.
So what makes SkyDemon so great? Well it is its ease of use. Planning a trip is as simple as clicking your start point and your endpoint and then adjusting your route as you see fit (to avoid airspace, dangerzones etc). From here SkyDemon does the rest, it gets all your NOTAMS, TAF, METAR, Winds and the weather for you to check before you go airborne. SkyDemon can also do your mass and balance however I still do this separatly at the moment.
Next you can print out a plog that will have your legs, the time it should take etc along with all the radio frequencies that you should need en route. I really can’t even put into words how simple the whole thing is and in my opinion these programs are becoming essential in our ever crowded skies. However yes I do agree that we should all still practice the conventional methods as no system is infallible and should my tablet and phone fail I will still need to be able to navigate using my map.
In the air SkyDemon will warn you if you are drifting of course, if you should change frequencies, of obstacles and most importantly of airspace. It really does allow you to concentrate on flying the aircraft as even when navigating with your map an accurate position is simply a glance away. Now of course we as pilots are never lost so to say but occasionally we can be “unsure of position”. This takes the high workload of flying the plane, holding the map and trying to work out where you are away and changes it to a “oh I need to go left a bit”. Anything that reduces workload in the cockpit and allows you to focus on flying is a positive thing in my opinion.
One of my favourite parts of SkyDemon is when you approach your destination it pops up and asks you what approach you want then draws handy arrows on the map so you can see visually what you need to do and circuit direction.
When you land you can pull up the Aerodrome information which will help you with your taxi etc, I mean SkyDemon even has fuel prices.
SkyDemon can also do your flight plans, give you estimation of leg times, warn of traffic, provide airfield layouts and information and probably a lot more that I haven’t even managed to dive into yet. The maps are updated frequently and they seem to have maps for most of Europe as well as places such as South Africa, USA, New Zealand & Parts of Africa.
With the amount of money we spend on aviation I must say in my opinion SkyDemon is probably one of the best value bits of software you can possibly buy and I would not hesitate to recommend it. 5/5.

Hour Building: Two Local Flights

As it had been a month since I had flown and due to a pressing need to build hours before next year, I did Hour Building: Two local flights this weekend.

Just a quick update from me. On Saturday I did a local flight just in the local area from Blackbushe with my GF. I had actually just planned to do circuits as the weather wasn’t geat but out of nowhere it cleared up so I decided to head out into the local area. I took the other club C150 for the first time. The one difference with this plane is MPH is the speed on the outer marker with knots on the inner so was just something to make sure I’m paying attention to. I departed Blackbushe and flew up to the north, across to the west in the area towards Swindon, back east towards Popham and then back north and into Blackbushe.
On Sunday I had a new passenger my GF’s friend, who was in a small plane for the first time. I literally just flew around the local area trying to learn the local landmarks etc as I haven’t spent much time in this area as I learned up in Cranfield. Also I didn’t want to stray too far as I didn’t know how she would like flying so I didn’t want to be too far from the airfield incase she wanted to land.
The clouds were also a lot lower so I didn’t stray too far but all in all it was a pleasant flight. My passenger seemed ok with it but almost threw up when I started the landing procedure back at Blackbushe. I hope this was no reflection of my flying skills!
I got another 2.4 much needed hours into the log book this weekend which takes me up to 72.5 total. The 150 I need to have by the time I start my CPL ME IR next year seems a long way away. I will really need to up the frequency I fly, but as I work mid-week and nowhere near the airfield I am restricted to weekends pretty much.
There are still quite a few airfields I still want to visit so hopefully I can visit them over the summer. I also have a week off booked at the end of July to hopefully get my hours up!

ATPL Theory Month 13

After sitting my last set of exams early in June I got cracking with ATPL theory month 13.

mod 3 progress

I had originally intended to sit this next set of exams in October, however due to the fact the CAA decided to make a load of changes to the exams I have moved these forward to September and will now be going to the module three revision week at the end of July.
I am now working hard to get through the material in the software before the course as it is a pre requirement to attend the revision week. I have also departed from my usual material first then question bank method and I am now doing the question banks at the same time as the material due to having less time before I need to sit the exams.
The exams I will be sitting next are Mass and Balance, Performance, Principles of flight and VFR communications.
I am not find it too bad so far apart from Mass and Balance where it seems every time I learn a new formula I see to forget the previous one I learnt. I still have 2 months before the exams, so I hope this will be resolved by then.
I will basically do the same throughout July and put in lots of practice to do my best to get up to scratch. It would be nice if EASA and the CAA could stop moving the goal posts while I am doing the exams, but that is unlikely to happen.
Also on an unrelated note, this weather this year sucks. It is July and I am looking out the window at low grey clouds, this makes hour building impossible and if things don’t change soon I may have to look into going abroad as I still have 80 hours to build.

More changes to the ATPL exams

Well it looks like there will be even more changes to the ATPL exams as apparently 1500 new questions and 2000 reviewed questions a year wasnt enough, they have decided to change the exams from multiple choice to now having four different types of questions.

Navigation planning

  1. Multiple-choice – This is the style we have at the moment.
  2. Multi-select – Where you have to select options from a list to correctly answer the question.
  3. Inline – In this one you have to complete sentences using a drop down menu containing words, numbers, or a combination of both.
  4. Text – In these questions you will have to type in answers or numbers, so an input field.

The dates that the changes will come in for each exam is detailed below. Quite frankly from my time doing these ATPL’s, I have no interest in being a guinea pig for any of their changes, so I will now try to move my ATPL exams from the start of October to September. The reason for this is October would be the first week for Mass & Balance and POF changes and in September the only exam affected should be VFR communications.

Subject Date
010 Air Law 14-Aug-17
062 Radio Navigation 14-Aug-17
091 VFR Communications 21-Aug-17
092 IFR Communications 21-Aug-17
040 Human Performance and Limitations 28-Aug-17
061 General Navigation 04-Sep-17
033 Flight Planning and Flight Monitoring 04-Sep-17
050 Meteorology 11-Sep-17
071 Operational Procedures 11-Sep-17
021 Airframe and Systems, Electrics, Powerplant, Emergency Equipment 18-Sep-17
022 Aircraft General Knowledge – Instrumentation 18-Sep-17
031 Mass and Balance – Aeroplane & Helicopters 02-Oct-17
081 Principles of Flight – Aeroplane 02-Oct-17
082 Principles of Flight – Helicopter 02-Oct-17
032 Performance – Aeroplanes 09-Oct-17
034 Performance – Helicopters 23-Oct-17


ATPL Module 2 Results

In what feels like a whirlwind week with my eyes and brain taking a pounding, I have finally got my ATPL Module 2 results back from the CAA.

en route to kemble

As you may know, I sat my module 1 exams back in January and passed the 3 I took. This time round I took another 3 at CATS in Luton which were Air Law, AGK and Rnav. It has been a long slog with these exams with many hours put in at evenings and weekends to try to get above the 75% pass mark that is required for these exams.
Before sitting the exams my scores were between 80 and 90% in the question banks. Anyways these are my results for mod 2!

Air Law – 88%
No real surprises in this exam. There were a few new and reworded questions but nothing that threw me or that I wasn’t expecting. No nasty surprises to be had here but remember you can get hit with new questions at any time…. as I found out in AGK.

Rnav – 80%
I would say that Rnav was on the whole what I was expecting. However there were quite a few reworded or new questions in it. One question that I do remember from the bank was something along the lines of “What is Kalman filtering used in?” and the answer given in the bank was “Navigation display”. I got this question however Navigation display was no longer and answer and seems to have been replaced with Electronic Flight Information System.
Now if you didn’t know that the navigation display was part of the EFIS you would have been in some difficulty. This is why you need to do your best to try to learn more than just the question bank.

AGK – 77%
Brutal, absolutely brutal. Lots of new questions and lots of reworded questions. I remember on my first pass through thinking a more colourful version of “Good heavens, this is quite a difficult exam”. However on second pass I did my best to really think about the question and do my best to solve them. I remember changing quite a few answers on this second pass through and it looks like it just did the trick.
Another guy who sat the exam said the same thing about it, it’s my opinion that a lot of questions have been released for this exam. Some did seem like they were translated from elsewhere as they didn’t read properly. I came out of this exam unsure as to which way it would go. Needless to say when I got that email this morning I was relieved! This sums up my reaction –

Anyways no re sits which I’m ecstatic about! Next up it’s Mass and Balance, Principles of Flight, Performance & VFR Communications.

Hour Building: Local Flight

It had been almost a month since I had flown due to the weather being a bit rubbish, so just to stay on top of my game on Saturday I did Hour Building: Local flight.
Local flight from Blackbushe
Now this pictures shows a reasonably nice day with some clouds however it is quite misleading. The winds were pretty strong, progress was very slow due to a slow ground speed which was due to flight into a headwind and it was generally “challenging”.
I realised I have not really been into the local area so I decide it would be good to have a flight and get to know my relatively new surroundings. I took of from Blackbushe and departed the circuit before going to Farnborough with a traffic service. Farnborough are really good with a traffic service infact there is only one time I have been denied on due to controller workload which is fair enough.
There was a lot of rudder work as well handling to keep the aircraft in level flight, however on the whole it wasn’t that bad and we proceeded north (very slowly due to the headwind).
After about 30 minutes (and very little progress) I then decided to head back towards Blackbushe as the route I had planned would have taken forever. The winds aloft were definitely stronger than the forecasted winds.
I joined from the dead side and positioned downwind again with very strong winds before turning base, on to final and doing a pretty smooth landing.
I think it’s good to get up in these conditions to make sure your skills are still good as flying in perfect weather every time is nice but unfortunately it isn’t always like that.
Anyways, another hour in the book taking me into the 70’s, I still have 80 to build before next summer! Looking at the weather this week I don’t think there will be any flying this weekend. On top of this I have exams all this week so I need to focus on that for now.