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Differences between Aus and USA CPL Theory

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Differences between Aus and USA CPL Theory

Old 23rd Sep 2021, 23:54
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Question Differences between Aus and USA CPL Theory

Started this thread out of curiosity, not to turn into a CASA bashing exercise.

In Australia, a candidate for a Commercial Pilot Licence has to complete 7x separate exams (12 hours total), at a total cost of AUD$1146 in fees. Obviously, this does not include textbooks, practice exams, or tuition.

In the USA, a candidate for a Commercial Pilot Licence has to complete 1x exam (3 hours total), at a total cost of USD$175 (~AUD$240) in fees. 20% of the price of Australia. Again, does not include textbooks, practice exams, or tuition.

The format of the FAA exam appears to be 100 questions, with only three answer options for each.

In comparison, it seems that the CASA exams would be approximately double the questions, with four (or more?) answer options for each.

Why the difference in theory testing standards? Has it always been this way?
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Old 24th Sep 2021, 03:47
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Originally Posted by MagnumPI View Post
Started this thread out of curiosity, not to turn into a CASA bashing exercise.

In Australia, a candidate for a Commercial Pilot Licence has to complete 7x separate exams (12 hours total), at a total cost of AUD$1146 in fees. Obviously, this does not include textbooks, practice exams, or tuition.

In the USA, a candidate for a Commercial Pilot Licence has to complete 1x exam (3 hours total), at a total cost of USD$175 (~AUD$240) in fees. 20% of the price of Australia. Again, does not include textbooks, practice exams, or tuition.

The format of the FAA exam appears to be 100 questions, with only three answer options for each.

In comparison, it seems that the CASA exams would be approximately double the questions, with four (or more?) answer options for each.

Why the difference in theory testing standards? Has it always been this way?
There is a subtle point missing in your comparison, that the casa approach is still painful . In the USA you need an instructor to give you a logbook endorsement that you have the knowledge before you can take the test. You cant just rock up and pass the test. Read 61.123, an extract is below. In a way the test in the USA is really just checking on that instructor. If the instructor gets too many fails then the FAA may have a chat with them. Usually, at a minimum, the instructor that signs off that you are ready for the knowledge test gives you a bit of a grilling to make sure that you will pass the test. If you do a theory course, online or in person you would get that on successful completion of the course.

(c) Receive a logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor who:

(1) Conducted the required ground training or reviewed the person's home study on the aeronautical knowledge areas listed in 61.125 of this part that apply to the aircraft category and class rating sought; and

(2) Certified that the person is prepared for the required knowledge test that applies to the aircraft category and class rating sought.
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Old 24th Sep 2021, 04:19
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Curious about this too. I've done five of the CPL exams so far and am not looking forward to doing it all again for ATPL! The Americans seem to have it laughably easy compared to us.

They've also got most of the question bank available ahead of time through companies like Sheppard, so most candidates recognise the vast majority of the questions going in, unlike here we're they're all novel.

I shouldn't really complain about being held to a higher standard, but it's hard not to be a little envious sometimes.

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Old 24th Sep 2021, 05:29
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For info, I have trained a number of people who are converting FAA to CASA. For many, tracking VFR to a place that is not a NAVAID has been a battle of epic proportions. I also had the learning experience of putting too much trust in a business jet pilot who wanted a CASA MECIR (at the time) and managed to turn a simple engine failure practice on the ILS into what would have been better considered a demonstration of aerobatics.

Edit to add that I can only discuss my own experiences and acknowledge that not all will be like that.
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Old 24th Sep 2021, 05:32
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Originally Posted by no_one View Post
There is a subtle point missing in your comparison, that the casa approach is still painful . In the USA you need an instructor to give you a logbook endorsement that you have the knowledge before you can take the test. You cant just rock up and pass the test. Read 61.123, an extract is below. In a way the test in the USA is really just checking on that instructor. If the instructor gets too many fails then the FAA may have a chat with them. Usually, at a minimum, the instructor that signs off that you are ready for the knowledge test gives you a bit of a grilling to make sure that you will pass the test. If you do a theory course, online or in person you would get that on successful completion of the course.
Thanks no_one, that's actually kind of what I was wondering. The yanks call this the 'oral', right?

I haven't sat a CPL flight test but I always thought is there something like the lengthy pre-flight part of the PPL flight test where the ATO does something similar to a USA 'oral'?
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Old 24th Sep 2021, 05:34
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Originally Posted by phlegm View Post
Curious about this too. I've done five of the CPL exams so far and am not looking forward to doing it all again for ATPL! The Americans seem to have it laughably easy compared to us.

They've also got most of the question bank available ahead of time through companies like Sheppard, so most candidates recognise the vast majority of the questions going in, unlike here we're they're all novel.

I shouldn't really complain about being held to a higher standard, but it's hard not to be a little envious sometimes.
Yeah - again I'm not necessarily saying that having higher testing standards here in Aus is a bad thing (apart from the cost!), more just wondering if there is any evidence that our more stringent standards make 'better commercial pilots' after all?
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Old 24th Sep 2021, 06:54
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For an alternative view - I completed an FAA endorsement on a wide body jet and the 2hrs+ oral
exam on top of the written exams for systems etc was arduous and hard work. The examiner wanted 2-3 levels depth of knowledge on each and every switch and knob on the overhead panel. Once the oral had been passed we then commenced the full motion simulator training component.

It made every other endorsement I had done at the airline I work for in Oz seem trivial.

The FAAs way was certainly not a cake walk at ATPL+ level. Perhaps the basic CPL is different.
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Old 24th Sep 2021, 08:16
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It wasn't always this way in Oz. I did my theory in 1992. There was one exam which covered every topic (apart from HF....it wasn't invented back then.) You allowed 6 hours to do the exam. I don't recall paying a fee for it either.
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Old 24th Sep 2021, 09:07
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Originally Posted by MagnumPI View Post
Yeah - again I'm not necessarily saying that having higher testing standards here in Aus is a bad thing (apart from the cost!), more just wondering if there is any evidence that our more stringent standards make 'better commercial pilots' after all?
Ever met an ex Ansett pilot? 😂😂😂😂

🎩🧥🚪
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Old 24th Sep 2021, 09:21
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I did my CPL in 89 or so, and I am sure there was more than one exam. PPL had three, Met, Nav and BAK.
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Old 24th Sep 2021, 12:01
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Just to clarify:
FAA CPL requires ground study and passing the knowledge (theory) exam, and passing the practical test (checkride), consisting of an 'oral' portion, typically several hours worth, and a flight test, maybe 1.3-1.5 hrs in the plane.
The ground training can be accomplished by formal "ground school", or one-on-one with an instructor, or self-study using online or video course, or book(s). Each method requires the mentioned instructor endorsement prior to actually taking the exam. Also required is a second instructor endorsement attesting to the candidate's readiness to take the final practical test, signed by the flight training instructor. The self-study programs usually include that endorsement upon completion of the course, but there really is no direct monitoring of the student's knowledge, other than maybe completing all sections of the course. Years ago, the FAA did publish the entire question bank, and there were study programs that simply consisted of reviewing every question in a rote memory fashion, enabling test-passage, but maybe not ensuring any real retained knowledge. Now, the FAA no longer publishes the questions, but there are still study methods that present sample tests that are made up of similar questions. So, conceivably, a student with a minimal rote-learning could pass the knowledge exam, but whose knowledge deficiency would be (easily) caught by either their flight instructor prior to endorsement for the practical test, or at the last, by the examiner during the 'oral' portion of the checkride.
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Old 24th Sep 2021, 12:09
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Originally Posted by Roj approved View Post
Ever met an ex Ansett pilot? 😂😂😂😂

🎩🧥🚪
Well happen to know one rather well - knowledgeable, laid back, good balance of approach regards CRM, realised never wanted head in the management direction ("rather flexible attitude towards everything is desired" I believe he opined).
All round pleasant character, can only imagine would have been a pleasure to fly with.

So your point....??

Cheers
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Old 24th Sep 2021, 23:21
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I left Australia mostly to avoid flight planning. The ATP was study-able in about 5 days, with the study software saying, "if this question asks about a papi, the answer is xx, if this question asks about a mtow out of x airport, the answer is y.

The software guarantees money back if you get less than 80%, some people were so dialled in on the question bank, and poor, that they deliberately got some wrong so they'd get 79%
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Old 24th Sep 2021, 23:24
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Originally Posted by galdian View Post
Well happen to know one rather well - knowledgeable, laid back, good balance of approach regards CRM, realised never wanted head in the management direction ("rather flexible attitude towards everything is desired" I believe he opined).
All round pleasant character, can only imagine would have been a pleasure to fly with.

So your point....??

Cheers
I was joking..............sort of.
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Old 24th Sep 2021, 23:41
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Originally Posted by Roj approved View Post
I was joking..............sort of.
So was I..........sort of.

Cheers
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Old 25th Sep 2021, 00:09
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If you hunt around on the CASA site you can find a history of the examination requirements in Australia over the decades.

Flight Crew Licensing Procedures - Civil Aviation Safety Authority - PDF

Summary for CPL:

1960s - 7 exams, essay based, sittings a few times a year at DCA offices, all but air legislation done at DCA offices and all but air leg closed book.
1970s - exams changed to multi choice
1985 - introduced a final exam done after all the other subjects passed
late 80s - exams "on demand" not fixed sitting dates
1991 - single exam covering all subjects
1992 - "exam fax" - the exam was faxed to an independent conducting officers (eg TAFEs, training organisations etc) and marked by the officer
1993 - CAA took back marking due concerns about cheating
1996 - resumed scheduled sittings not on demand due concerns about cheating
2002 - 7 part exams - can be done on demand at authorised centres, system we have now
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Old 30th Sep 2021, 09:57
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CPL Exams

As I recall it was when Dick Smith got into power with CAA/CASA that he introduced the single 100 Question CPL exam. That would have been circa 1993-4 not 1991. He liked the then American style. He also introduced the regulator to the use of the web / internet to conduct business and easily spread information. After Dick left CASA went back to the seven subject exams and to be capped off within three years.
Prior to then CASA had CPL exams conducted three-four times a year. Usually at a race course pavilion and used former school head masters as supervisors. The exams were hand marked and when the results came out there was little time to apply for the next round of exams and to study up for them.
A CPL holder told me in the past that Civil Flying School was the very first to do the new style CPL exam of 100 questions. Comment from others?
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