CPL ME IR: Week 2

Another week down so this is a recap of CPL ME IR: Week 2

Bartolini Air

Day 8 – 14

So I can pretty much sum up the entire week in two words, IR Prep.
We have been in a classroom with Adam all week who has been giving us lectures on the IR theory side of it all.
This covered things such as holds, reading Jeppesen plates, reading instruments, weather, learning the departure minimums and arrival minimums, flight plans and much more.
After an entire week of this my brain is pretty fried, I have also spent the weekend going over everything we have learned as I have a test on it this coming week.
We also had a progress test every day so it has been a pretty full on time.
I am looking forward to getting the test over with and to focus on the flying as most of the theory side will be complete.
I have to return to the UK for a few days this coming week but when I get back I am looking to do the MEP and CPL back to back.

Ryanair meeting

On top of this, the cadet recruitment team from Ryanair came to see us this week. They gave a presentation on the company as well as details of the cadet scheme.
I must say, they seemed really down to earth and very nice. They were also younger than I thought they would be, I would say they were in their mid 20’s.
We had the opportunity to ask questions so this was very helpful. I guess it shows that they value the training at Bartolini if they have taken the time to come out and see the operation here.


I can’t believe I have already been out here two weeks, the time really is flying by.
One thing I have found out is that even though I have the 150 hours of P1 time, this is actually not enough. I would still be 9 hours in total short of the 200 hours needed to actually take my test. It seems that pretty much all students were caught unaware on this not too long after arrival.
I have booked 4 days at the end of September to return to England and fly these hours and I will also renew my medical at the same time.

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CPL ME IR: Week 1

Bloody hell, this week has absolutely flown by, I literally haven’t had a min to myself. However here is a roundup of CPL ME IR: Week 1.
I am studying at Bartolini Air in Lodz, Poland.

Bartolini Air

Day 1
We met at the school and spent half the day getting to know each other, how the course will go, some of the team, doing paperwork etc.
From here we went straight into a VFR into class. This was learning a bit about the airspace, the endless documents you need for a VFR flight here and where to find certain information.
We also briefly went through mass and balance and things like calculating LDR.

Day 2
We spent today doing a planning exercise. I think it took most groups about 5 hours to plan a VFR flight! There is quite a lot of information that you need to gather and calculate.

Day 3
Straight into a lecture on MEP. These lectures are all day and quite draining. I must admit though, this lecture was more fun and I learned a lot of information during it.
The lecture was delivered by Bartek who is a Citation check captain and also an owner of the school. He seems to be a nice guy.

Day 4
Day two of the MEP lecture. Straight after the lecture, we went into the final test for the MEP. I passed in the end with a 90% score.

Day 5
Today we had a maths and physics refresher. The school says they developed this as a direct request from an airline. I guess people are going to assessment without decent maths and physics skills.


Day 6
I wanted to do my familiarisation flights the following weekend but the instructor insisted today was better. I did a test as soon as I got there (that I had no time to prepare for) and then we went and did a short flight to the training area. We practiced manoeuvres such as steep turns, stalling, spiral dives etc. We then came back to the airport for some touch and goes.
I paid about €280 to upgrade from the P2002 to the P2008.
All my time is in high wing aircraft so I thought it would be better and everyone says that the P2008 is the better aircraft.
This was my first time flying in Poland, flying the Tecnam, flying a stick control and on glass. I think it went reasonably well.

Day 7
Today was a VFR navigation flight. Poland uses visual reference points for joins and departures from airfields.
I had to plan the flight for the first time on my own. I started at 5 am, went to the school at 9 am and finished it maybe just after 11 am.
The instructor wasn’t impressed and seems to expect me to know everything already, I didn’t find him much help whatsoever as he had no interest in answering any questions.
Tbh his “teaching” style which seems to consist of being as unhelpful as possible and calling you stupid, does not work for me. I most certainly do not want him as my CPL instructor.
The flight was not that bad but I need to practice my diversions etc.

Update – I spoke to Alek then I had a sit down with Adam and Bartek (the owners). They heard my concerns and will sort it, so all’s well that ends well.
From what I am hearing around the school, I am not the first one to have an issue with him.

So, all in all, it has been a mental first week. I have had no time to think or to get my head around things and we go straight into the IR lectures all this week.
Thankfully I have to return home for a few days the following week. I will use some of this time to get up to speed on the P2006T and the flight planning process.
My brain is fried and the overwhelming impression I am getting is that it comes thick and fast. If you want information or to schedule flights or pretty much anything you have to sort it out yourself.
I am staying at Student Depot Salsa which is as basic as it gets but it will do the job.
A bit more info as it was requested.
Salsa 1
Salsa 2

These were taken just as I got here and was in the process of making the bed etc.
The basic room is very small but it is all they would offer when I phoned.
You get nothing like cutlery, plates etc but I did get bed linen.  Make sure to bring or be prepared to buy a towel also.
You get a desk, some cupboard space, a fridge / freezer and a hob. You also get your bathroom with a shower of course.
The reception is manned 24 hours and you get a key card which gets you in the door and of course into your room.
There is a pizza place in the building as well.
It is basic living but it is also very cheap, I think this months rent is £180 or so. There is, however, a discount in the summer so it might be a little more depending on the time of year you are doing your course.
Basecamp the other student place is quite a bit further away, from all accounts it is nicer, however.
I have purchased a bike so I can at least get some exercise going to and from the school as I very much doubt I will have any time otherwise. It takes about 25-30 mins to cycle.

Hour Building – The final few hours

So I have finally finished my hour building so this is a quick post on my Hour Building – The final few hours.
The share plane never returned so I made the right call by not waiting for it.
I have ended up finishing with 101 hours PIC and 146.9 hours total. The reason I have stopped here is because at Bartolini you have to do a minimum of 3 hours familiarisation on the aircraft, which will take me over the 150.
So in the mean time, I rounded up my latest bunch of free landings from Flyer UK mag and set off on tour.

Local area

Local area flights

The good thing about Blackbushe Airport is that it opens early. The bad thing is that most other airfields open at 9 am and also require PPR.
This gave me some time to do some practice for the CPL in regards to navigation, altitude holding etc.
Also in the morning, the wind is calmer so it’s good to get a few hours in when I could.

Blackbushe -> LyddBrighton en route to Lydd

Somehow this was actually my first time heading down to the south coast in about 2 years. Why I have left it so long I have no idea because the routing down to Lydd was some of the most beautiful I have seen in my time flying.
I headed out of Blackbushe, did a zone transit of Odiham and down towards Goodwood and Shoreham before basically tracking the coast into Lydd.
When I got there I had a flyer free landing voucher, which needed an uplift of 35 litres. I only got 30 and they let me off, so that was a result.
I hope to return to Lydd sometime soon.

Blackbushe -> Manchester BartonManchester Barton

Following my flyer free landing tour (got to save where you can). The next place I decided to go was Manchester Barton. It was a long slog getting here and back in the C150 but hey I was after flight time so it was ideal.
I routed north up across the brize zone, up towards Wellesbourne past Halfpenny green then up into the Manchester low-level corridor.
This is a pretty cool route through the Manchester TMA where you can only reach 1300ft.
You listen to Manchester and set a listening squark to do this before switching to Barton.
Then I switched to Barton and did an overhead join before landing. Unfortunately, there was not much time on the ground as I had to turn around and come back
It was 2 and a bit hours each way.

Blackbushe -> Leicester

G-AWUJ Leicester

I had actually gone to Leicester a few weeks back and the cafe was closed so it felt a bit like justice that I had a free landing this time.
I took an aircraft I had not flown before and routed up under the London TMA with a service from Farnborough before switching to London Information and then on to Leicester.
It was quite breezy so this made the flight a little challenging but nothing too bad.
I did an overhead join and landed, grabbed some food and then returned back to Blackbushe.

I really wanted to go to Sandown but I just didn’t have the time to fit it in as it is quite close to Blackbushe and I needed flight time. I hope I will be able to return when I get back.

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.
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.


How to pass the ATPL theory exams

Well, this post has been a long time coming, this is my advice on how to pass 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%


 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!

UK ATPL pass rates for 16/17 and 17/18

So someone had the genius idea of submitting a freedom of information request for the UK ATPL pass rates for 16/17 and 17/18 from the UK CAA.
The UK CAA doesn’t publish this information so it is probably the first time this information has been shared, well at least publically anyways.
I thought I would share it here incase anyone has an interest in seeing it.

Navigation planning

SUBJECT // PASS RATE 17-18 // (PASS RATE 16-17)
Air Law – 83% (87%)
Airframe/Systems/Power Plant/Electrics – 87% (89%)
Aircraft General Knowledge – Instrumentation – 83% (81%)
Mass & Balance – 81% (82%)
Performance – 78% (72%)
Flight Planning – 76% (81%)
Human Performance and Limitations – 85% (84%)
Meteorology – 79% (77%)
General Navigation – 86% (82%)
Radio Navigation – 85% (90%)
Operational Procedures – 83% (91%)
Principles of Flight – 76% (73%)
VFR Communications – 95% (96%)
IFR Communications – 97% (98%)

So looking at the stats Flight Planning, Principles of Flight, Perfomance and Meteorology seem to be the exams with the lowest pass rates over the two years.
It would be interesting to see how this compares to other CAA’s.

ATPL Theory Month 24: POF

Just a quick update from ATPL theory month 24: POF

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.


Jet2 pilot apprentice open day at Virtual Aviation

With an eye on the future today I went to the Jet2 pilot apprentice open day at Virtual Aviation.

en route gamston

So the day started with us registering and then going into a room so that we could mingle with the other students. Most students seemed to be at CPL ME IR stage or has recently completed their training.
Being the small world that it is, I actually met someone who actually trained at Cranfield Flying school also, so that was nice.

We then went down to a room for a presentation from Jet2. I must say, Jet2 seems to be a really good company to work for and they heavily emphasised that they prefer to promote from within and develop people.
Obviously the pilot apprentice with its bonded type rating is one of the premier schemes in the industry.
The main takeaways I got from this in regards to what Jet2 like to see is the following. They did however say this is all considered on a case by case basis.

  • Strong ATPL results.
  • Recent flying – They want to see you flying with a decent amount of consistency.
  • Jet2 are Independent – Jet2 do not prioritise any schools or training organisations and they said it is best to do your MCC / JOC wherever is best for you.

Talk with captains and pilot apprentices.
We then went up into a room to speak to some current captains and two guys who were on the pilot apprentice scheme. This was a good opportunity to ask about the job and if they could offer any advice.
We were probably in here for 20 mins or so.
The pilots were very passionate about how good Jet2 were to work for and how they seem different from other airlines they have worked for.

Sim Visit
We then went to have a look at Virtual Aviation’s new Boeing 737 sim. I must say, the sim is very impressive.
We had a quick go at handling it which was nice but quite rushed as obviously they had a lot of people to get through.

APS MCC talk
Lastly we had a talk from a very nice Easyjet captain about the APS MCC. I must say the course seems very well designed and quite intense.
The guy leading the course seemed to be very passionate about teaching and really helping you get the best you can from it.
The course is designed to last around 20 days and I believe it costs about £6500.
This is much more than the £2650 that CRM Europe are charging for their MCC / JOC course which is not an APS course or on a Boeing 737 sim.
Ryanair are saying that the APS course is preferred but Jet2 stated to do which course you feel is best for you, so there is a decision to be had there.

All in all it was a good day and I was glad I heard both from Jet2 about the pilot apprentice and from Virtual Aviation about the APS MCC.