View Full Version : ATPL Difficulty for non-engineer

16th Mar 2006, 03:08
Hi all,

I'm new, and about to pursue courses to clear everything needed up to ATPL.

However, should there be any concern if I do not come from a engineering background? I did a degree in Management, and the last time I touched any physics and maths was during college.

I'm just worried if I will be struggling to cope with the demands of the course? Or is it a case where if one puts in the hardwork, it isn't all that difficult?

16th Mar 2006, 07:05

First of all welcome. I wouldn't really worry too much about not having an engineering or scientific backround. The level of Maths and Physics is pretty much at a level that you would have been subjected to at school.

The ATPL's are hard work due to the volume of subject matter you are required to absorb. You have pretty much hit the nail on the head when you say if you put the work in, you will be fine. Obviously, if you have an engineering backround you will have a head start, simply because you would have seen the material before.

All the best with it, and you will most likely enjoy it.

16th Mar 2006, 07:28
You do not need an engineering background! More pilots are from arts than sciences, in my 30 years experience. As long as you can do some basic maths and have a limited understanding of some very basic physics, you'll be fine - and many schools offer some kind of pre-course maths and physics brush-ups for the less confident.

Jeez, if we all had to be engineers, my airline would stop operating tomorrow!


16th Mar 2006, 08:42
Thanks everyone for your replies. I'm just a littler worried, as I have never been strong academically, but better at the practical aspect of things. Hopefully I will be able to cramp everything in!


16th Mar 2006, 12:43
I would worry a lot if i was you...
I have seen many guys like you failing 6-7 tests for the second attempt, and most have even failed the nav or the met for the 3 rd attempot, after that you have to start from scratch.

if you do not have a background as an engineer or physician, or math teacher or whatever related with physic, maths,... I can tell you, it s going to be very hard that you will cry for your mom during the exam!:{ .

Piltdown Man
16th Mar 2006, 12:58
And as part of your training, I think many would agree, you would do well to ignore posts from A320rider. He's great for a laugh, continually gets the wrond end of the stick (also gets a fair bit of it as well) and is generally WRONG!.

It's they way your brain works that matters, not what it has remembered. There are many ex-airforce people with really good science backgrounds who find the exams tough - and that's because at times the questions are somewhat vague, pointless or based on inaccurate and duff information. And this is where the duffer scores, he is not lumbered with the correct knowledge, just a method of smelling out the "right" answer.

Have fun!

16th Mar 2006, 16:38
Yes I agree with PM, A320 is talking bollocks.

You will most likely coast through your ATPL studies as long as you put the work in. There were quite a number of people I studied with who were not from and engineering or scientific backround and all went through with first time passes in all the exams.

All the best.

16th Mar 2006, 17:18
A320rider, don't you mean a physicist? I fail to see why a medical practitioner such as a physician would have an advantage in the ATPL's.

Oreo, having done an Undergraduate degree in Engineering, and pursuing a Doctorate degree in Applied Physics, I can honestly say you really don't need to go to these extents to be able to complete the ATPL's.
I personally have not done the ATPL's (yet), but I've seen some of the material and exams papers, and the level of maths and physics ability is not that high.

I'm not sure where you're from. If its UK, then I'd say good passes at AS-Level maths and physics would suffice. If you're not at that level yet, don't fret, its nothing sitting down with a few maths and physics books and some self-study can't put right.

Oh yeah Oreo, take everyone's advice and ignore A320rider. I think he's having a rough time of it in the aviation industry at the minute! :\

I wish you the best of luck Oreo.

16th Mar 2006, 17:34
OK, the level of maths needed is nothing a 13 year old schoolboy couldn't do. If you can rearrange V=IR to find R=V/I then you're there already. General Nav shouldn't be taxing if you remember Pythagoras' theorem and basic trigonometry. I could go on but you get the picture. As Scroggs, and most except a320rider said, the problem is not the difficulty level of the questions but the breadth of the syllabus. Often it's more a memory test of obscure facts than an exercise of mental agility.

bfato (B.Sc Management Science)

17th Mar 2006, 00:46
I actually took the GCE 'A's Physics a long long time ago, scored rather badly with a D. But that was at a age when certain studies wasn't a high priority!

I would have thought the course would be more application, and applying the concepts, than memory work? But then again, isn't that what all examinations promise.....

Thanks a lot for the mostly positive feedback. Looks like it all boils down to hard work!

17th Mar 2006, 08:39
I actually took the GCE 'A's Physics a long long time ago, scored rather badly with a D.

Snap! The level of physics required is first year 'O' level at most. Very basic mechanics - e.g. lever arms and moments, F=ma, simple electrical circuits. Nowhere near 'A' level.

I would have thought the course would be more application, and applying the concepts, than memory work?

Sorry, I may have misled you. There are subjects such as Gen Nav, Flight Planning, Mass and Balance that are mostly about understanding, and are much easier if you learn the concepts rather than the question bank. In general though there seemed to be a bias towards testing fine detail over understanding. As examples, your ability to name the component parts of an instrument might be tested rather then your ability to detect when it has failed, or your knowledge of how many fire extinguishers should be installed in a cabin with a given number of seats. Or, even more likely, whether you have spotted the crafty 'not' the examiner put at the end of a line midway through the question or that the first otherwise correct answer in the list has the wrong units. You may start out like me with high ideals, hungry for knowledge, but you end up just wanting to get through the exams like everyone else!

17th Mar 2006, 09:26
Like the rest of my fellower ppruners say it really does boil to hard work. In fact even if you have a light foundation or bias towards scientific subjects then there are some useful publications and CDs out there that should help get you upto speed. But I think most can get by without the need for these.
I know quite a few people who have left existing professions (non technical) that have gone on to become pilots both in the UK and overseas, so yes it most certainly can be done.

With all the support of tutors and excellent course material you can get your teeth stuck and the sooner you start the sooner you finish. If there are some tricky patches during the learning phase don't worry you won't be the first person! :)

Best of luck my friend...:ok:

18th Mar 2006, 01:35
Thanks for the support guys! I will definitely be putting in the effort since the reward is so clear. Will check back in 6mths if the result is positive!