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So I Just completed my last ATPL subject and I thought that I’d shed some light on the experiences that I’ve had with each subject and the exams associated with them. I’m doing this purely because I wish I had something like this when I was studying, and also to help those who are struggling. Just as a reference I only had a PPL at the time, so there’s no reason why the inexperienced pilot can’t complete these exams.

The ATPL Subject’s aren’t fun, and trying to find the study material is also pretty complicated. Basically the stuff that I and many other instructors have been using are old recycled notes from Nathan Higgins over at Advanced Flight Theory and also some notes from Flight Theory Adelaide, who as you know do training programs gas nozzle keeps stopping for multiple Airlines throughout the world, so their stuff is very good. The downside however to these notes being really good is that there is a lot of material in there that whilst is good to know, doesn’t apply to the exam that you’re studying. Nathan’s notes are pretty good, but on some concepts he’s only given a one sentence description of how that object / concept works, when really he should be describing it in as much detail as possible and also giving examples. Also in Nathan’s notes there are a few areas that don’t apply to your exam. The only way you can get around this is by checking whats in the Manual of standards on the casa website, and then studying accordingly. It sucks, but it is what it is.

People Online will tell you that Human Factors is quite easy, but realistically it actually harder than everyone perceives. I struggled to Understand Threat and Error Management, and how it was written in the actual exam can sometimes throw you off. I ended up getting 88% after using some of the FTA notes. Bob Tait’s CPL book will get you 75% of the way there, there’s a little bit extra that you need which is covered in the FTA notes. I’ve had mates pass on just the Bob Tait book, but I think that may have came down to a bit of luck. Overall for Human factors, remember all the electricity in india voltage key facts from the Bob Tait book and have a really good understanding of how Threat and Error Management works, I’ve had mates in the past have a third of their exam consist of TEM’s.

This was the easiest exam that I experienced. There’s no casa bullshit questions, Its either you’re right or you’re wrong. FTA notes got me a pass first go. You could use the Bob Tait CPL Meteorology book as a reference if need be. CPL Met and ATPL Met are practically identical, except that with the ATPL exam you have to understand how High Altitude charts work, and the weather that’s associated ( Jet Stream’s ). You will get questions on High Altitude charts and Jet streams so be prepared, everything else is very similar to CPL Met.

Flight Planning is the hardest subject that most students struggle to pass. I did the course through Andrew who specializes in ATPL and IREX theory over in Perth. He doesn’t do much theory providing anymore, but he does tutor and do the hard subjects like Flight Planning and Performance and Loading and IREX. He does everything online, but he requires around 4 students to put a course together, so if you know of 3 others who want to tackle this subject all at once, then this is by far your best option. Others will tell you to go to Nathan Higgins over in Queensland, the issue is that you’ve have to pay for flights, accommodation and everything associated with travelling all to be stuck in a classroom with 40 other Students. Nathan’s course is only 9 days, where Andrews is 2 weeks + Ongoing support. And Andrew also states that if you don’t pass you’re more than welcome to sit on in, in the next course free of charge. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with Nathan, its electricity usage just I’d prefer to go through Andrew as there’s less costs associated and its more of a 1 on 1 situation, which to me feels like more bang for your buck.

Some people have studied this from old notes, but you’ve gotta be super intelligent and understand the process behind everything really well. The issue with self studying is that practice exams are no longer correct as your maps change every 3 months. So it can be sometimes difficult to see if you’re answer is correct or not. I could rant on about Flight Planning until the cows come home. I failed once with a mark of 66% and went back 4 days later and passed. If I had any tips, its to know when to do a full flight plan and when to do only half. In some questions you can save yourself precious minutes by only doing half a flight plan. As everyone says, its an easy 5 hour exam that’s gotta be done in 3 hours. With that being said, get the big questions ( 4 and 5 Markers ) out of the way at the start of the exam, and then come back for all of the 1 markers. I actually really enjoyed flight planning, and once you get the hang of it, its really quite easy. Also make sure youunderstand the limitations imposed on abnormal operations. From memory, some abnormal operations have a different MTOW and Max landing weight.

This subject isn’t too difficult, Andrew offered me the 3 day conversion course pretty cheap and I wanted to get through this subject quickly, so I did it. Honestly you could study this one online, its not too difficult. Just make sure when you gas 85 octane’re drawing your charts up your lines are dead straight. The tolerance on an A3 sheet of paper on some questions are only 0.4mm which is ******* ridiculous, but that is casa for ya. I failed once with a mark of 69.4% and went back a week later and passed. Make sure you lines on your %MAC charts are dead accurate. Take off and landing charts have also got to be very accurate!

This subject was my worst nightmare. I spent around 6 weeks ( 4 Days a week ) just getting through the notes, and that wasn’t even all of them. The FTA notes are ridiculously detailed and go on for what seems like forever. Nathan’s notes were very good for this subject, so I used his notes with FTA as a back up if i didn’t completely understand 3 gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect a particular concept. This subject is all recall questions however you need to remember literally a **** tonne of information. I struggled with this subject just because my Aerodynamics Knowledge wasn’t 100%. I failed once with a mark of 64% and went back about 3 weeks later and got 70%, I’d say I got pretty lucky. Remember to focus on the Aerodynamics side of things. In my casa exams I had a lot of questions to do with Aerodynamics, and make sure you understand how air flows and moves in front and behind a sound wave! One tip I found handy is if you don’t completely understand a particular concept, there were multiple videos online that would explain it. I’d post some links, but PPRuNe won’t allow me as of yet.

Nathans and Andrews notes aren’t too bad, but lack some mapping questions, but all in all are pretty good. In the exam I found I had plenty of time to go over the 3 mark questions, yet I was still getting the questions wrong. Make sure you understand how all the instruments work! All of my mapping questions in the exam always gave your position in terms of what radial you were on or what the DME was reading, they never actually gave me a set location to start with. Make sure you know the scale of the map you’re using, because all of the 20 or so maps that you’re allowed in the exam have different scales, so keep an eye on that. In terms of True Altitude let me clear something up. Nathans Method is incorrect, where as Andrews method is correct. If you go and have a look through universities and also through the EASA Exams in Europe that both refer to how Andrew does his True Altitude Calculations. I’ve also asked Gavin Secombe from CASA and he has confirmed that the correct way to calculate True Altitude is as follows.

Air law was interesting. This Subject took me all of 8 days as there isn’t really much study to do, but more learn whats in each document and where to find it. One thing I would recommend is to not take everything into the exam. Find out whats applicable and only take that. There is no point flicking through pages that you don’t need. In my casa exam I had a few questions in regards to flight and Duty times from both the Old and the new CAO 48.1’s. I also had some IREX related questions, so I would highly gas bubbles in colon recommend doing your IREX before the exam as it somewhat prepares you for Air Law. There are a lot of questions in regards to maintenance, such as who can carry out the maintenance. I had a couple of questions on unserviceable Instruments, and also Oxygen Requirements. If you use Nathans notes some of his questions are word for word what is in the exam.