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EASA ATPL Theory needs reform?!

Old 1st Sep 2014, 15:00
  #1 (permalink)  
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EASA ATPL Theory needs reform?!

Well, I thought this s a nice subject to kick-off a little discussion.

Here's my opinion, and I know that I'm not the only one out there, the EASA ATP exams is a shining textbook example of a flailed concept. Instead of educating pilots this concept promotes the "jack of all trades but master of none" pilot. It's nothing uncommon that many training captains complain about the poor knowledge of junior FOs. In my opinion it's high time to restructure the EASA FCL syllabus, especially the theoretical part in cooperation with qualified specialists, such as instructors and training captains and leave the armchair-pupers from Brussels out! I think France already did the first step and revised the IR theory, if so, hopefully this process will continue and will be adopted by other member states.

So, that was my opinion, what do you think?
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Old 1st Sep 2014, 16:35
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Yes 100% agree. There are instructors and some schools already working on this but it's an uphill battle.

The JAA had a great chance back in 1999 to make the theory system/exams much more relevant but like anything out of Europe it's a compromise committee, hence the current shambles.

The 'database' has become a joke and is not serving the industry. It might even be giving some students the false hope they can become commercial pilots by rote learning the answers. Whereas in New Zealand for example the ATPL flight planning exam is a combined FP/Perf/M&B using the B777 data manuals for a flight across the Pacific - much more relevant and difficult.

Though the old CAA system wasn't brilliant you certainly had to know your stuff to pass and at least the air law was relevant to a pilot. The only good thing to occur recently is the electronic exams with quicker results.
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Old 1st Sep 2014, 18:07
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EASA ATPL Theory needs reform?!

Why oh why oh why the "compulsory brush up" classroom crap too?
I have to work for a living, so not only do I have to cram studying for 14 exam loads of crap into my life somehow, I'm also expected to take numerous weeks off work not earning, travelling half way down the country and having to find accommodation etc to attend classroom studies. Then I have to traipse somewhere else to sit the exams (which are finally done on a computer, like under the FAA system) on certain dates.

I was fortunate enough to study full-time in the States a few years ago, and passed the equivalent CPL/IR exams out there for the FAA certificates. It probably took about 2-3 weeks of hard graft around the flight training to pass the writtens. More importantly, I still remember the theory, and a while ago tried an online mock exam, which I passed with a high score. Surprisingly, the FAA theory has helped to some extent with the EASA crap, but far too much of it is overly complicated and lacks relevance. The "meat and bones" technical side I've definitely got a head start on, and it's just the (mostly) nonsense about HP&L and most of the Air Law and Ops that are a pain.

To anyone who wants to argue that the FAA written tests are "easier", I'd agree. They are more accessible, cheaper, more relevant etc and have a pass mark of 70% out of best of 3 answers. Then you have an oral exam as part of your skills test... No amount of learning answers by rote will help you with this, and this is a much better test of someone's knowledge in my opinion.

How many newly minted IR holders in the UK/Europe would happily hire a light single and file IFR on a trip? How many would actually know how to do it and have practiced it during training?
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Old 1st Sep 2014, 19:06
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Don't get me started

The system is an international joke. At least my contacts in other agencies fall about laughing when I tell them what goes on over here. Learning objectives written by people who don't understand the subject they are asking about, no references for the schools to work on (so they are pretty much guessing what to teach, and how deeply if they do find out), multiple questions with wrong answers, etc. There is no real faith in the question bank even now.

Last edited by paco; 1st Sep 2014 at 19:30.
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Old 1st Sep 2014, 20:01
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I agree 100% with all of Paco's comments. It is a disgraceful embarrassment!!!
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Old 2nd Sep 2014, 00:12
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Its all about revenue raising , CAA want people to fail, good source of income, almost like speed cameras on a highway !
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Old 2nd Sep 2014, 01:50
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I have seen may people really just memorising the bristol database last year. Is it still the same or changed a bit, maybe a little revision?
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Old 2nd Sep 2014, 06:33
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I was wondering when you were going to comment Phil? Hit the nail on the head.

ersa - I agree it is morally wrong for an organisation (CAA) to 'run' an exam system when they have a financial interest in you failing.

QB does change a little each time, high risk strategy in GN,FP, MB as it is easy to change numbers others you'll get away with it but your comment adds even more weight why the system needs to change.
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Old 2nd Sep 2014, 08:21
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Yeah I think ersa got it. It is a similar case up here in Sweden, where the government forced the regulator into cost neutrality and in turn the regulator is incentivized to fail candidates for the sake of revenue raising. And it shows in the design of the exam questions, even down to the PPL level. Ridden with hidden technicalities which contribute nothing to the candidate's ability to conduct practical flight operations.

On the European level, progress can be made - as evidenced by the recent EIR/CB IR ruling which is a godsend to everyone with a stake in it. Provided only that you first remove entrenched interests in propagating the current system for the sake of revenue generation.
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Old 2nd Sep 2014, 08:36
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To be fair to the CAA, this whole nonsense started with Europe, and the CTKIs of all the schools have helped to make the UK database the most logical. Aside from that, all involved should hang their collective heads in shame. As mentioned above, they had a golden opportunity, and screwed it. I don't believe it is going to get any better with the new EASA CEO either.

However, some questions have appeared in UK POF(H) exams that do not appear to be in the European database. I am told that 60% of the questions for POF(H) have now been disabled. If that is not an example of what we are talking about then I don't know what is.
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Old 2nd Sep 2014, 08:39
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I don't think it is for revenue raising to be honest. The money we are talking about is chicken feed in a large organisation.

In the old days the syllabus use to be made by a mixture of backgrounds from engineers through to ex mil Navigators.

This did sometimes give you to much on certain subjects and it more relevant to there experience. But better to much than to little.

Now there seems very little input from people that have actually done the job.

This means that stuff we actually use is missed and attention is focused on stuff that is never used.
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Old 2nd Sep 2014, 11:18
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The exams and CQB are in a dreadful state, and require a major overhaul. They certainly need to be made more relevant. But in my opinion any overhaul should actually make them much more difficult to pass.

At the moment we have lots of people passing exams by memorizing answers, then rushing off to spend vast sums of money doing very expensive flight training. Many of them then find it impossible to get jobs as pilots and they and their parents are stuck with large loans to repay.

If the exams were much more difficult, many of these people would drop out of training before spending (wasting) any really serious money. This would of course be very unpopular, but this is a situation in which it is necessary to be cruel to be kind.
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Old 2nd Sep 2014, 11:23
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My thoughts exactly Keith.
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Old 2nd Sep 2014, 11:42
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They just need to match reality. I for one am heartily fed up with teaching stuff for the exam then explaining what the real world does.

They should do what the FAA and Transport Canada do, which is make the checkride more oral and include TK questions.

That would wake a few people up, including the examiners I"m thinking
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Old 2nd Sep 2014, 12:51
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2 words.....

Transport Wander

I mean seriously......
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Old 2nd Sep 2014, 13:08
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The inertial VSI takes its information from the INS.......
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Old 2nd Sep 2014, 13:52
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I was referring to the need to have to memorise and be able to apply the formula to calculate said useful adjustment.... wonder how many times that's been used on the line?
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Old 2nd Sep 2014, 16:04
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Not many I suspect, although I used to use convergency in my head every day in N Alberta.

Just to clarify my comment above, modern technology may well link the VSI to the INS, but there is some confusion because another name for the instantaneous VSI is inertial VSI. This LO is from those written for the EIR which is purported to be for pilots flying non-complex aircraft, typically PPLs. If they really did mean the INS and have not just confused the names, why is it even mentioned?

<fx: mutter, mutter.....>
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Old 3rd Sep 2014, 06:28
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How I enjoyed learning about that mainstay of modern approach aids, the Microwave Landing System!

What frustrated me more than anything was that the requirement to learn reams and reams of useless garbage pushed you in to a rote learning / QB based approach and blurred the lines between what was useless and the elements which might one day be useful. For me the exams just became a game to be passed with the minimum effort rather than an opportunity to learn and become a better pilot as a result.

I came to the EASA exams from the FAA system. Even though the FAA exams are much easier I learned a lot more from them as the content was relevant - and I had to know it inside out for the oral exam.
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Old 3rd Sep 2014, 06:42
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I agree. I have found now I'm working that I have a few books I come back to regularly to refresh my knowledge - one is Aerodynamics for Naval Aviators; the other is Aircraft Performance Theory for Pilots.

I didn't realise at all until I started flying to limiting runways quite how well I needed to know the assumptions and detail of Perf A for example...
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