Fit to Fly Part 3: Do Your Homework

With 7 exams to prepare for, it is important that you have all of your bases covered when it comes to studying for your Private Pilot’s License. The 7 exams cover a range of aviation topics, from general principles of flight to communications. Once the first exam in the series is successfully completed, the following 6 exams must be taken within 18 months. After they are all completed they remain valid for two years, if a pilot licence is not issued within this time then the exams must be retaken. For those thinking about embarking on a PPL training course, here is a breakdown of the 7 exam topics you will soon become very familiar with in your PPL course manuals!

Aircraft General & Principals of Flight
The first in the series of PPL exams is Aircraft General and Principals of Flight. This topic covers aero dynamics, aircraft structures and controls, electrical systems, pressure and gyro instruments and the 4 stroke otto cycle.

Air law and operational procedures is the second exam in the PPL training series. In this topic students will cover light signals, the rules of the air, altimeter settings, SSR transponder codes, the different types of airspace and the Chicago Convention and ICAO.

The written navigation exam covers all aspects of navigation and radio aids including using the CRP computer to solve ground speed problems and wind vectors. The CRP is a valuable tool for PPL students and its usage is paramount to flying studies. The navigation exam also covers chart properties, time & distance calculations, loading/fuel conversations, altimeter settings and the use of radio aids in navigation.

Meteorology is the scientific study of the atmosphere and one of the key aspects of PPL training. The exam looks at winds, air masses, decoding TAF and METARS, reading weather charts, the composition of the atmosphere and combating problems with the altimeter. Students must also be able to identify weather symbols.

Flight Performance and Planning
The flight performance exam covers aspects such as the effect of weights on aircraft performance, loading, the different runway surfaces and slopes, flap use, head and tail winds, conversion factors and calculating pressure altitudes.

Human Performance & Limitations
The human performance exam looks at factors which affect pilot performance whilst in the sky. This includes stress, alcohol consumption, medication and the effects of smoking when controlling an aircraft. The exam also focuses attention on visual perception and the composition of the atmosphere.

The final exam in the PPL training series looks at the various forms of pilot communication. This includes QM’s, QTE’s or True Bearings, Pan Pan/Mayday calls, Matz Penetrations, Special VFR and VFR transits and the use of SSR transponders and codes along with the phonetic alphabet.

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