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Frequently Asked Questions

Click here for ATPL course information on remote learning via the Internet.

Guidance for those studying ATPL theory.

FAQ’s by those studying ATPL theory.

Question 1. What are the credit time limits on my ATPL theory passes ?

Answer: A three year clock starts ticking the day you sit your first ATPL theory exam, whether you pass it or not. Between then and the end of the three year period you must have passed all seven exam subjects. If you do this, you are awarded a “frozen ATPL”, and once you reach the required flight experience for the issue of an Australian ATPL (ie: 1, 500 hours total flight time, 100 hours night experience, etc, etc), you may apply to CASA for issue of the Australian ATPL licence. There is no flight test requirement, as there often is in other countries.

Should you NOT pass all seven exam subjects within the three years since the first sitting, you will lose all credits, and you must re-sit all subject areas, even recently passed subjects. The idea is that you continue to sit and pass subjects in a scheduled way, something that the airlines wish to see also.

Air Law should be sat only after the other topics have been passed, as it only has a one year theory credit, the others having three years.

Question 2. What subjects should be sat in what order ?

Answer: I suggest to my students that they should do Navigation first, Flight Planning second, and Performance and loading third. The reason for this is that navigation builds knowledge required for Flight Planning, and Flight Planning builds knowledge needed for Performance and Load (ie: both based on B727 aircraft). Then any subject in any order, except Air Law, which should be sat last. Time has shown that departure from the above sequence can lead to a re-sit of some subjects.

Question 3. When will the B767 replace the B727 for flight planning ?

Answer: How long is a piece of string ? The B767 was to be introduced some time ago, but CASA has no actual planned introduction date in mind at the time of writing (Feb/2002). Personally, I think the B767 introduction to Flight Planning will not be for about two years. There will likely be a period of grace of perhaps six months thereafter, during which those who studied the B727 will be able to sit exams based on that aircraft, while those trained on the B767 will be able to sit Flight Planning exams based on the B767.

Question 4. What subject elements are currently based on the B767 ?

Answer: Only the glass cockpit (ie: EFIS/FMS/Autothrottle) in the Aerodynamics and Aircraft Systems examination, though if there is any doubt as to which aircraft say a hydraulic theory question is referring to, the B767 may be assumed.

Question 5. Some commercially available text books on Aerodynamics and Aircraft systems still feature information on conventional “round dial” (non-EFIS) flight decks. Am I likely to be assessed on these, and therefore do I have to know both cockpits ?

Answer: To my knowledge only the B767 (EFIS) cockpit is applicable in the examination.

Question 6. The Navigation syllabus specifies knowledge required of Omega VLF (ONS), and Micro-wave Landing Systems (MLS). Are these still relevant, and will they be assessed in the exam ?

Answer: No to both !! Omega navigation was quietly dropped out of the syllabus database about 2 years ago when the only Australian VLF omega station was de-commissioned. GPS en-route navigation approval took over (for approved GPS sets) about this time. MLS was dropped from the CASA question database about the same time as ONS, when ICAO finally decided that Differential GPS approaches would eventually replace most ILS approaches around the world. Prior to that, there was debate in ICAO for some time as to whether to adopt GPS or MLS for this purpose. GPS won the day.

Question 7. Do I need DAP’s in the ATPL exams ?

Answer: No. They are required for the IREX exam though.

Question 8. I am trying to study the ATPL on my own (not doing a formal course of instruction) using the CASA reference book list for training guidance. Is this possible for all topics ?

Answer: It is possible to pass some of the topics on your own, these being Human Factors, Meteorology, and Air Law. The others require a fair bit if guidance especially the calculation type exams of Navigation, Flight Planning, and Performance and Load.

I would suggest an investment in a structured course of learning is virtually essential if you are not to pay CASA extra money for extra exam sits. There is just too much to know, and no commercial texts currently available in pilot supply shops will prepare you well enough for this.

Click here for information on Nav/Flight Planning, and Perf & Load courses.

Click here for general ATPL course information.

Question 9. I have heard that some people are by-passing the Australian syllabus by doing an ATPL course in the USA, and then converting that licence to an Australian ATPL, by doing the ATPL Law and CPL examinations. Is this a good move ?

Answer: If you intend to reside and fly in the USA, the answer is yes. If you are looking for a job with an Australian Airline, you should remember that:

About the third question you will likely be asked in the airline interview will be “Why did you do a US licence, then return immediately to Australia, without flying in the USA, then do a law exam to gain an Australian licence”. You had better have a very plausible reason. Remember that the Captains interviewing you will almost certainly have passed the Australian Licence to get to where they are, and may not hold your actions in high regard, and not have a high respect for the American Licence.

The airline technical interview and written exam will be wide ranging, but based on the Australian ATPL syllabus. The US theory syllabus is different from the Australian one, and may not have prepared you to a standard required for successful airline entry here. Remember that an ATPL pass may get you the interview, but only knowledge will get you the job.

The current ICAO based Australian ATPL syllabus was formed with input from the major airlines then in Australia. It is their approved syllabus - naturally the one they accept ahead of all others.

The Australian syllabus is designed to give you a basic understanding of systems, navigation, flight planning etc. Circumventing the Australian syllabus/exams may not have prepared you well for the very demanding airline induction training, and aircraft type endorsement if you manage to get a job. This could leave you dangerously exposed if your learn rate drops behind that of your classmates and the airlines demanding expectations of you.

At the end of the day, you are the Captain of your own destiny - it’s your call, but keep in mind that gaining any perceived “quick- fix” ATPL theory solution, will remain with you for the rest of your career, and you will continue to be judged (perhaps harshly) because if it, especially at your initial airline entry point.

Question 10. I am an Australian Citizen - can I study and sit CASA exams overseas ?

Answer: Not at the time of writing (Feb 2002).

Question 11. What are the current exam fees for sitting the CASA examinations ?

Answer: You buy exam sits in blocks of seven. Current cost for all 7 CASA exams is $100 including GST. If you pass all seven subjects in one attempt, that is all it will cost you. If however you fail to pass any one on first attempt, you are required to buy another block of seven credits, even if you have only one re-sit to do. An additional sitting fee is paid to the provider of the cyber exam, including re-sit exams.

Question 12. I heard that the CASA ATPL exams are to be delivered by computer in the future such as has been the case in the USA for some time. Is this correct ?

Answer: As of 11th March 2002, CASA are to implement Cyber Exams.

Question 13. What are the charges for the exams, how do I book, and where can I sit them ?

Answer: The CASA exams are administered nationwide by a separate private provider now. I suggest you go to their web site for this information: www.aslexam.com

The above statements are the opinion and understanding of the writer, and may not be relevant at time of viewing due to legislative changes. The writer accepts no responsibly for actions you may take, or decisions you may make, in response to the above opinion/understanding


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FAQ | Conversion to Australian ATPL