One step closer to the flight deck…

A day I never thought would come, the completion of my ATPL examinations! It’s been exceptionally tough, but I am delighted to announce that I have completed all exams with an average of 87%. My ATPL sentence is over and it hasn’t quite sunk in!

Firstly, an apology. It’s been a few months since I have posted anything on my blog. This is primarily because since graduating, I’ve focussed all my efforts into ATPLs. I had until the 31st of October to sit the following subjects:

  • Flight Planning & Monitoring
  • General Navigation
  • Mass & Balance
  • Principles of Flight
  • Performance

Essentially, all the easy ones. I wish.

On reflection, I should never have bottled both Gen Nav and Flight Planning from both module one and module two examinations. This would have saved a great deal of pressure and stress. The best way to go about the ATPL examinations is with a ‘low risk strategy’ i.e. sitting more exams nearer the beginning together to avoid a situation alike mine where you run out of sittings or like me, where you spread them out too thinly and subsequently become very pushed for time.

I initially planned to sit Flight Planning, Mass & Balance and General Navigation during August but bottled this sitting and moved to a sitting in September. This was probably a wise decision in terms of my readiness for the examinations but definitely put the pressure on for the last two exams. It left an undesirable quantity of time to prepare for both Performance and Principles of Flight but I worked with it and gave it my all. Thankfully, Principles of Flight was very similar to recent feedback and the banks, whilst Performance was similar but required a greater understanding of the subject in my opinion.

Thinking back to September, Flight Planning was exceptionally challenging in the way of fuel calculations. You must understand these to heart and have a great deal of experience  interpreting the potential questions you may face. General Navigation requires a thorough understanding of the subject and confidence handling the CRP-5 to obtain answers for wind correction, TAS, Groundspeed and and Headings etc. Mass & Balance was reasonable but very tight on time and as a result, I’d really recommend pushing yourself to work fast and accurately during preparation.

The whole ATPL process has definitely not been as easy as I’d anticipated and has stretched me well beyond what I ever could have imagined. This is particularly true whilst studying towards these examinations alongside a degree and part time employment. However, passing them all despite these challenges makes me hugely proud and has prepared me well for a career as an airline pilot. A huge thanks to all at Bristol Groundschool, the quality of the tuition alongside the professionalism of the staff and their genuine interest in getting you through these exams really does help guide you through the gruelling process.

My message? Keep going! Find what motivates you and keeps you engaged and run with it! This process will challenge you, if it’s not the content, its balancing everything or dealing with the pressure of the sittings. Despite this, each and every one of you will do it! Keep strong and remind yourself of why you are doing it! For me, I found great inspiration in the Aer Lingus video linked below. Find something similar that works for you and watch it when you feel disheartened or unable to focus. I guarantee it will change your mindset and help you through the process.

Until next time, all the best and keep the dream alive!


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