View Full Version : ATPL exams: too soon?

2nd Feb 2009, 13:38
Hi All,

I'm close to finishing my PPL and having passed my Class 1 medical last month I'm keen to progress to a professional licence. I've decided to go ATPL by distance learning so I can keep my job, build my hours and avoid as much debt as possible. (Anybody want to buy a Lotus? Sob sob…..).

My question is this: Do people think it's a good idea to start ATPL ground exams soon after attaining a PPL?

Having finished my degree back in 2000 I’m now back into a groove of learning/revising etc. and want to maintain that momentum.

Obviously this is an entirely personal decision but I wanted to find out if anybody else has been through this experience.

Cheers all :ok:


2nd Feb 2009, 13:39
I know for sure that as soon as I finish my PPL I will be starting ATPL.

2nd Feb 2009, 14:21
You could start the ATPL's distance but I would advise that you fly as much as poss during summer 2009 and 2010 to try and get a total 150 hours by the time you have sat all 14 exams. So as you can start a CPL course.

By the way, do your night rating in the winter now or at the end of 2009. Long dark nights and you might be lucky to do it all in one night or 2 at a push.

If your going to be doing it all part time, you will need to think about your hour building. If you pass all 14 exams, you may be in a rush to hour build before those exams lapse (36 months from last exam passed I think) if you have not passed an IR flight test

Plan it out, start ATPL's distance now (Bristol Ground School) and plan to do stage 1 brush up and exams at the end of 2009, beginning of 2010. During this summer 2009, hour build when the weather is good.

In 2010, start mod 2 and plan to do mod 2 brush up sit exams for mod 2 in winter 2010 or early 2011.

2011 do CPL and IR

Enjoy yourself and remember, if your married, make time for your family

White Otter
2nd Feb 2009, 15:33
I'm right in thinking that you can take as long as you want on distance learning before you take that first exam arn't I (and then the clock starts for you to finish them)? I so then why not just buy the course books, etc, read them all through until you know them quite well and have quite a few hours (like EGCC4284 said) and then take them.

Thats what I'm planning. Finish PPL, buy ATLP books, get 100ish hours, take exams, take CPL, take IR, get FIR, get married, have kids, retire and die.

P.S. my flight instructor (and the school) say that the hours prior to taking CPL is 200 not 150. Any reason why this could be as I thought it was 150.

2nd Feb 2009, 15:47
Any reason why this could be as I thought it was 150.

Yes: Because you are correct and your instructor is not.

150 hours to start the CPL training. 200 hours to apply for the licence afterwards.

White Otter
2nd Feb 2009, 17:24
Thanks keygrip. Thought that there may be some weird ruling or subclause.

2nd Feb 2009, 19:11
I'm registered with Bristol Groundschool and will be back in Newcastle next week, if you want to take a look at the material. I know a few other members of NFS who are enrolled with Bristol if you're looking for a study buddy.


2nd Feb 2009, 20:12
I'm right in thinking that you can take as long as you want on distance learning before you take that first exam arn't I (and then the clock starts for you to finish them)?

No you are not. You are supposed to finish the groundshool within 18 months of starting it.

The 18 months to complete the exams is another time limit. Your DL school should explain this to you.

3rd Feb 2009, 01:08

I am not sure and no expert, but I think the 18 month time limit to complete all 14 exams starts when you sit the first exam, not when you sign up to the school doing the course.

I think you have 4 attempts at each exam or a total of 6 sittings before you have to retake all, even those that you have allready passed.

So I think Bristol do 8 subjects in module 1 then when you sit those 8 exams, that counts as one sitting.

Mod 2 at Bristol is the remaining 6 subjects and when you sit those 6 exams, that count as a second sitiing. So you must not exceed 4 attempt at a subject or a max of 6 sitting or you will have to sit all exams again.

Alex, can you clarify on this please.

You then need 150 hours total to start your CPL training (49 hpurs of that can be your PPL training) and dont forget 300nm cross country I think. You must also of done so many hours solo cross country to get CPL licence issued, so find that out and make sure you mark in your log book which flight were cross country trips. I just marked all those that were longer than 80 minutes.

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I have happy memories of my time at Bristol.

Good luck all and dont give up

3rd Feb 2009, 08:54
Thanks for all your views people. Pretty much what I thought - starting ATPL exams asap is a good thing.

Think I'm gonna plump for BGS, starting as soon as I get my licence!!


3rd Feb 2009, 19:21

Please read what I wrote. I said there were two 18 month time limits. One is for the exams and the other is for the course.

You are right on one thing- you are no expert.

This is from the Oxford website:

Distance Learning

If you approach your ATPL(A) Ground Training this way then you will have to complete 2 key sections:1. Complete our Home Study Course

2. Complete 2 x two week Skills Revision Classes with us at Oxford Airport
Our Home Study course allows you to commence training at any time once you have your PPL(A) and learn at your own individual pace. Study time is flexible, subject to the course being completed within 18 months. Additionally, once you have sat your first JAA examination, you must pass all 14 written exams, also within 18 months. (More deleted)

3rd Feb 2009, 19:39
That sound like Oxford's own rule. I enrolled on a DL course then due to circumstances, didn't actually start studying until nearly two years later. I explained the situation to the school and they agreed to honour the course fee I had paid prior with no extra to pay. I then started the studying, brush-up courses etc and finished a further year later.

I am not aware of any JAA rule which states you must complete the groundschool in I8 months so if this IS the case, please quote the relevant section from JAR-FCL.

Rishy, if it may take some time to build your hours to 50, get some second hand manuals and start now if you want. You will, of course, get another set of manuals when you enrol on a course. There was a website (but I've lost the link) that published the Jeppeson/Atlantic Flight Training manuals in .pdf format for online, free viewing.



Edit - look what I found

Index of /materialy/testy (http://lewczuk.com.pl/materialy/testy/)

OK, the site is Polish and this is the root directory but you can download some manuals and the Volare Italian Question Bank.

3rd Feb 2009, 23:57
Honestly did not know you had 18 months to complete the distance course and the exams, thought it was as I wrote.

You are correct, I am no expert and I know this.

Captains dont like experts, it pisses them off.

Always wanting to learn more from those that know better.

4th Feb 2009, 00:00
That's why I continue to be a pert :}



4th Feb 2009, 00:02
Pert, me being thick, whats pert

4th Feb 2009, 00:09
Well, when you cease to be a pert, you become an ex-pert :ok: Gedditt???



Is that my coat? Why, thank you.

Alex Whittingham
4th Feb 2009, 10:13
Sorry, I wasn't paying attention. There's only one 18 month rule. The maximum duration of the course is set by Appendix 1 to JAR-FCL 1.285 paragraph 2 which says:

An applicant wishing to undertake an ATPL(A) modular course of theoretical knowledge instruction shall be required under the supervision of the Head of Training of an approved FTO to complete 650 hours (1 hour = 60 minutes instruction) of instruction for ATPL theory within a period of 18 months. An applicant shall be the holder of a PPL(A) issued in accordance with ICAO Annex 1.

There is some discussion as to when the period should start, though, as the regulation doesn’t make it clear. The UK CAA follow the rule in Appendix 1 to JAR-FCL 1.130 which actually refers to the PPL. It says:

Subject to any other conditions in JAR–FCL, an applicant shall be deemed to have successfully completed the theoretical examinations for the PPL(A) when awarded a pass in all parts within a period of 18 months, counted from the end of the calendar month when the applicant first attempted an examination.

and, as a consequence, LASORS Section J1.5 (a UK only document) says:

A candidate must complete all required written examination papers within 18 months of their first sitting.

This means that, as candidates tend to take their first exam after 6 months or so of study, in the UK they effectively have just over two years from start to finish to complete the course.

4th Feb 2009, 11:30

Thank you for taking the time to point this out.

Hope your keeping busy down there in Chedder


White Otter
4th Feb 2009, 14:25
Yeah cheers for clearing that up Alex and I hope to be on my wall to Bristol in the coming months (DL)

4th Feb 2009, 15:38

Are you planning any open days this year? I have a few friends who I keep telling to pop down to your place and have a look around.


4th Feb 2009, 19:23
I started the D/L course in May06 and finished my last brush up and all assignments etc by the end of October 07 when I entered for the Jan 08 exams.

I met the requirements for completeing the course within 18 months which the school confirmed and when passing the final exams in Jan 08 (previous lot done in Jan07) finished the exams within 12 months.

Overall, just under 2 years from start to finish.

A friend who started at the same time as me has expired on the 18 months to finish the course and having passed 6 exams is about to lose them as he is coming up to the exams lapsing limit.

4th Feb 2009, 19:31
A friend who started at the same time as me has expired on the 18 months to finish the course
Is that what the CAA have told him? Or the groundschool? I took, from enrolment to completion, 32 months. However, I did the exams within the last 9 of those months.

Some schools may well impose a time limit since study material becomes out of date and the fee paid I8 months ago is not worth so much to them now when you're sitting the groundschool.

If it is a JAA/CAA rule, then there must be some discetion allowed given the time I took. If it's an individual school's rule, then they should certainly allow some discretion especially if aided by some extra remuneration for up to date material (although I personally think that's "off").



4th Feb 2009, 19:39
A friend who started at the same time as me has expired on the 18 months to finish the course and having passed 6 exams is about to lose them as he is coming up to the exams lapsing limit.

You say you did your first lot of exams in 01/07, despite starting the D/L in May '06.

If your mate started at the same time as you, did he do his first lot of exams 6 months earlier than you? Which in turn might bring him close to the CAA limit, hence the problems he is now facing.

4th Feb 2009, 19:59
Whirlygig, I can beat 32 months.

I took 36 months from signing up to completing my last exam, must be because I am not very clever.

4th Feb 2009, 20:06
EGCC4284 (http://www.pprune.org/members/24628-egcc4284), am I right in thinking you are still currently occupying a RHS, despite being at the upper end of the FO age spectrum, after training modular for ages while driving trucks? (Read your story btw, one of the first things I did on this site. Mint.)

If so, I suspect there are many, many people who could do with being as "not clever" as you!

Maybe you took 36 months 'cos you had to, oooh, I dunno, feed your kids?

You do yourself a disservice IMHO. (or maybe I'm missing the irony :E)



5th Feb 2009, 10:31
Normally I would say get straight into the ATPL exams, but with the current job market, and the 3yr time limit post exams to IR, best delay.

Build hrs, get a night rating, consider the IMC or MEP rating as a foot in the door to the IR and look to take the exams towards the end of the year if there are signs of an improvement. At the moment, as you will already know i'm sure, there are virtually no jobs for low hrs pilots and even flying instructors are having a tough time. Things will improve on the job market, but at the moment its a matter of timing!

5th Feb 2009, 13:20
Hi All,

Thanks for the continued responses.

I'll be doing ATPL by distance learning and will be aiming to take module 1 exams towards the end of 2009 and module 2 exams around Easter time 2010. That's the plan anyway. There are other factors in play as to why I can't push the exams back any further. By the time I've done CPL/IR (and possibly ME/FI etc.) it's going to be into 2011, by which time I hope the job prospects have improved.


james hepnar
6th Feb 2009, 17:08
Hello all, I got my PPL in August last year im still at college so I cant go straight into my ATPL, however I have been advided to take it easy and just enjoy the PPL and not to go rushing into anything. However im getting to the point now where i am looking to start my ATPL's later this year after enjoying myself last year.

with regards to the 18 month thing I believe you can start revising the ATPL's as soon as you want, there is nothing stoping you walking into Trasnair and revising it at your own leisure, however as soon as you enroll onto a course for example Bournemouth, Cabair, Oxford etc that is when your 18 moth clock begins (after you have sat the 1st exam anyway)

Although slightly off topic I a looking to do my ATPL groundschool with Atlantic Flight Training at Coventry, I have had a look on the forum but can't find out too much about it. does anyone have any feedback about their training, if so it would really help me.

cheers all.

James :ok:

6th Feb 2009, 17:52
James - the 18 month rule was covered earlier in the thread (see post by Alex Whittingham of BGS).

The (official CAA) 18 month clock starts ticking from the sitting of your first exam, not when you enroll on the course.


22nd Aug 2009, 13:39
Hi folks,

Ive actually been thinking about starting my ATPL's now via distance learning and once they are done (in 10 months i hope) I will go to the US to do my PPL/150 hours.

Just wondering what you think about doing ATPL exams before JAA PPL? Has anyone gone this route? The main reasons are

1. Once exams are out of the way I can focus solely on flying without any breaks. JAA PPL/150hrs in US followed directly by JAA CPL/IR in Europe (most likely Spain)
2. I can hour build in the US rather than Ireland saving a lot of €s
3. I can work a little during my 10 months of study to save some cash for my licences.

Thanks a lot

22nd Aug 2009, 14:18
As far as I know the only pre-requisite for starting the ATPL exams is a PPL. So I think you have to do the one before the other.

Happy to be corrected on this if I'm wrong.



22nd Aug 2009, 14:23
Just wondering what you think about doing ATPL exams before JAA PPL? Has anyone gone this route?

You cannot do this.

There are only two qualifications required to start an approved JAR ATPL THeory Course. These are.

1. You must have an ICAO PPL.
2. You must be able to pay for the course.

If the CAA find that you have started a course before obtaining your PPL they will often get very shirty.

I am aware of one student who started his ATPL ground school having completed his PPL exams, PPL flight training and skills test and applied for his PPL.

But he had not actually received his PPL. There was a delay in processing the application and when the CAA found that he had started the ATPL course with having been issued a PPL, they threatened to declare all of his ATPL training invalid. It took a lot of arguing to change their minds.

I have also known other occasions when the CAA have been asked if it would be OK for a student to start the ATPL course while his/her PPL application was being processed and they have agreed. But even when they are in their best of moods, they will never agree to let a student start the ATPL course before he/she has qualified for the PPL.......Unless of course the student is on an Integrated course, in which case they will never get a PPL at all.

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