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ATPL Flight Planning

Old 19th Mar 2021, 04:07
  #1 (permalink)  
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ATPL Flight Planning

Hi crew,

Like many I am struggling to pass the reched flight planning exam and it has become the bane of my existence.

I have completed the AFT course with Nathan which I have found great to understand the fundamentals however I seem to have issues deciphering the CASA exam. What other options have others found helpful for this exam apart from AFT? Has anyone used Pilot Practice Exams for ATPL studies or am I best to stick with AFT or Rob Avery? Any recommendations would be great!

Thanks all.
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Old 19th Mar 2021, 05:58
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Former colleagues found that Rob Avery worked for them if Higgins didn't. Horses for courses, literally.

Unfortunately, the exam is not based on reality in any way, shape or form. I found it most helpful to keep that in mind and try to divorce any sense of reality from it, treating it as a completely academic exercise. But I did mine before the answers were grouped much closer together I'm told.

j3
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Old 19th Mar 2021, 06:48
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Originally Posted by j3pipercub View Post
Former colleagues found that Rob Avery worked for them if Higgins didn't. Horses for courses, literally.

Unfortunately, the exam is not based on reality in any way, shape or form. I found it most helpful to keep that in mind and try to divorce any sense of reality from it, treating it as a completely academic exercise. But I did mine before the answers were grouped much closer together I'm told.

j3
Agreed. Whilst Iíve used the fundamentals of it in real life, I canít say Iíve actually sat down and drawn up a 727 flight plan to the accuracy that CASA seems to think is necessary.
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Old 19th Mar 2021, 08:08
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Isn’t it 2021? Just take in the EFB.

OK sorry not helpful.

Good luck!
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Old 19th Mar 2021, 11:26
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Sounds like things haven't changed much since I failed my first flight planning attempt for the (then) Senior Commercial Pilots License or SCPL in 1968. Took four attempts to pass. Then on joining DCA Head Office at 188 Queen Street Melbourne I was given an office across the corridor from the Theory Examiner, one Ted Steele, an em-bittered former Wellington bomber navigator from WW2.

I asked him why exam questions on gyro steering theory and grid navigation over the Antarctic when flight planning questions on flying a DC3 between the mainland and Tassie would be more relevant?.
Old Ted spat the dummy and his hate for pilots came to the fore after his time as a navigator on Ops over Occupied Europe getting shot at.

His excuse was that Qantas being Australia's international airline set similar questions to its pilots and that was the standard DCA should aim at. That was in the old days when Qantas had navigators on their aircraft.
What a load of tosh.
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Old 19th Mar 2021, 16:54
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short flights long nights
 
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I sat my SCPL Flight Planning Exam around 1979. Are you saying they are STILL using the 727 as the example?

From about 1990 until I gave up flying in 2016.. I never produced my own flight plans.. .. Iím getting old.
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Old 19th Mar 2021, 20:41
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The CASA exam system situation needs investigating. The person in charge of the exam system is an ex theory provider who has decided the data provided by Boeing is not accurate enough and must be corrected prior to answering an exam question, Circular slide rule solutions also need correcting with the use of formulas and an electronic calculator. Exam questions are set by a panel of industry experts, including theory providers. The traps set in questions can only be avoided by attending classes run by theory providers. The exam content is so far out of date and irrelevant it would only be applicable if HARS chose to fly the Connie around the world. CASA would not allow an operator to have crew complete their own flight plans using these archaic methods. Itís time the gate keepers were replaced by people with knowledge of current flight planning methods.
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Old 19th Mar 2021, 22:08
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I've said this a couple of times, but...

The exam shouldn't be on an airline type. Airlines have heaps of support - especially in the computer age.

The exam should be on a Westwind medivac flight to Norfolk, or a Learjet flight to Darwin. Something that you'll actually have to fly without support....
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Old 19th Mar 2021, 22:33
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There is no point complaining about the exam. Itís called flight planning and thatís what you do in the exam. Whether it applies to modern day operations is irrelevant.

The biggest tip I can give is make sure you know the rounding rules given in the ATPL syllabus. Read it over and over and highlight key items. CASA have added a PNR question in there too which shows working step by step.

When finding winds, being 1-2kts in error will not deem the answer incorrect. You will find that youíre making mistakes in the processes to get the answers instead. Most questions are fill in the box now, so when completing a practice exam work off a 1% accuracy. You will find this is quite generous no matter how small the number as generally for higher weights there can be more cumulative errors building (full flight plan). Where as for smaller weights (such as fuel flows), you either have the answer or you donít. For 70T, +/-700kg. For 4500kg, +/-45kg for example.

AFT is greatly helpful and the exam questions are similar to the actual exam. Some have changed since, but they still teach you what you need to know. Supplement with Rob Avery practice exams for a different view on questions (also to get you thinking more).
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Old 20th Mar 2021, 05:22
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One thing that helps in a multiple choice exam and helped me get 100% first try in ATPL flight planning was taking a second to read the question and think about what the answer should be.

Use this information to immediately strike out 1, 2 or even 3 of the answers.

For example (and I was stunned when this happened), my PNR question in the exam had a decent headwind and of the 4(?) answer choices, only one was past the nil-wind PNR quoted (bear with me in case i've remembered this wrong - PNR moves into wind right?). Anyway, whichever, the point was that 1 of the 2 hardest/highest mark questions had only one possible answer. I therefore did no calculations on that one, picked the only possible answer, and moved on (had some time to spare at the end and came and checked it but there was no pressure because I was already sure I had the answer).

(the other thing that helped me get 100% first time was the Lionel's old course at Moorabbin - suspect he's not around any more?). For this more than any other, a face-to-face course is a worthwhile investment.

UTR
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Old 20th Mar 2021, 12:15
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Lionel is alive and well and still at Moorabbin Airport, or what is left of it!
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Old 20th Mar 2021, 15:56
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Most of the CASA ATPL exam content is outdated or irrelevant now. I'm still trying to figure out why I need to know the "3 types of hydroplaning" or how many [email protected] ring gyros in an INS. If the runway is wet there is a chance of hydroplaning and if your flying an aircraft with an INS the company will provide training for it.

The thing is none of this stuff is hard, CASA make it hard. The difficulty of the ATPL exams have no correlation to air safety, but try telling CASA that.

Last edited by Climb150; 20th Mar 2021 at 21:23.
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Old 20th Mar 2021, 22:08
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One thing that helps in a multiple choice exam and helped me get 100% first try in ATPL flight planning was taking a second to read the question and think about what the answer should be.

Use this information to immediately strike out 1, 2 or even 3 of the answers.
Unfortunately, I don't think the exam structure is now "multi-guess" - you have to physically type the answer into a box - can someone confirm?
When I did it, it was still multi-guess...
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Old 20th Mar 2021, 23:41
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Originally Posted by Climb150 View Post
Most of the CASA ATPL exam content is outdated or irrelevant now. I'm still trying to figure out why I need to know the "3 types of hydroplaning" or how many [email protected] ring gyros in an INS. If the runway is wet there is a chance of hydroplaning and if your flying an aircraft with an INS the company will provide training for it.

The thing is none of this stuff is hard, CASA make it hard. The difficulty of the ATPL exams have no correlation to air safety, but try telling CASA that.
The issue these days is having the attitude of ďI donít need to know that, so I wonít learn it.Ē

Knowing the different types of hydroplaning will help you identify the risks and mitigate against them for example.

There needs to be an ATPL syllabus, so theyíve put items in that they believe are useful. Itís not as easy as deciding one day to change an entire subject to better suit the modern day airline environment. If that was the case, everything could probably be condensed into one exam. Not very useful for a syllabus at ATPL level IMO. People just need to do the exams and get on with it, not the constant whinging we always hear.
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Old 21st Mar 2021, 05:01
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Originally Posted by josephfeatherweight View Post
Unfortunately, I don't think the exam structure is now "multi-guess" - you have to physically type the answer into a box - can someone confirm?
When I did it, it was still multi-guess...
Can definitely confirm this is the case! Of the 19 questions only about 5 of them multiple choice really making it hard for time management as there is no chance of even having an option to narrow down some of the answers. Very frustrating exam indeed and yes I can complain about how irrelevant the exam is until I'm blue in the face however there is no option, I need the box ticked to move forward!

Can confirm Lionel is alive and well at MMB and still running courses.

Thanks for your input everyone. I think the safest is to continue using the AFT methods that I have learnt, throw in some Avery to mix it up and just keep throwing money at PEXO/CASA until I pass it.

I used to love the 727. If I ever see one again I might just loose it! haha

Thanks all.



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Old 21st Mar 2021, 08:01
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What were you planning to loosen on it?

I'm sorry, couldn't help myself. Goodluck
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Old 21st Mar 2021, 11:12
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Don’t try to finish the exam, try to pass it. I’d be giving Avery a solid look, I wasn’t a fan of the AFT stuff but many have passed with it. The day you burn that book will be one of the best of your life.
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Old 21st Mar 2021, 14:52
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The issue these days is having the attitude of “I don’t need to know that, so I won’t learn it.”
+1

It's sad when you tell a story to a cockpit colleague to pass the time, and that evolves into a tip or trick about, say, calculating the Last Point of Safe Diversion by map folding ... and you get a blank stare and "but this isn't in the manuals" as a reply... *sigh*
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Old 21st Mar 2021, 14:58
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Originally Posted by transition_alt View Post
The issue these days is having the attitude of ďI donít need to know that, so I wonít learn it.Ē

Knowing the different types of hydroplaning will help you identify the risks and mitigate against them for example.

There needs to be an ATPL syllabus, so theyíve put items in that they believe are useful. Itís not as easy as deciding one day to change an entire subject to better suit the modern day airline environment. If that was the case, everything could probably be condensed into one exam. Not very useful for a syllabus at ATPL level IMO. People just need to do the exams and get on with it, not the constant whinging we always hear.
Knowing the types of hydroplaning will mitigate the risk? Tell me your joking? You think we sit in the cockpit on a rainy day and discuss what type of hydroplaning we may encounter?

I got on with it and did the exams like you said. That is why I know they are mostly nonsense.
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Old 22nd Mar 2021, 09:15
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I sat my SCPL Flight Planning Exam around 1979. Are you saying they are STILL using the 727 as the example?
Did my ATPL theory back in mid '92 and the Flight Planning was based on the 727. Found it fairly straightforward, once I had it mastered, so to speak.

The actual exam was, most thankfully, almost indentical to one of the practice exams we had been given!

Somewhat surprised to read that they are still using the 727 though!
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