FAA IR(A) Written Test

What to do in a bad weather? Of course, the best choice is studying! I felt pretty confident about my knowledge, so I decided to take a written test. The exam itself is not so hard. The program interface looks exactly like gleim’s software, the pictures are the same as the ones available in all popular question banks (for example, gleim, jeppesen, sportys, aviationexam).

The questions are not exactly the same as in preparation books, but nothing special. Take your time, read the question very carefully, don’t hurry up, and you’re done. The point is knowledge.

One more advice for those who prepares for the FAA IR tests: apart from reading the books (which is essential), use question banks to get the idea about your knowledge. I heard a lot about Sheppard, but less expensive alternatives work too. For example, I used gleim and aviationexam (both are good, the latter also offer monthly subscriptions – very convenient if you want only refresh your knowledge) and got 87%. Not an astonishing result, but not bad too.

FAA Instrument Rating

Long time passed since my previous post, but that’s only because almost nothing was happening. I am studying a lot, it’s really hard to remember all this stuff. I didn’t have much free time, but when I did, I was looking for the best American flight school.

Finally I found the option which satisfied me enough, and I’m in progress of getting I-20 for M1 visa. I decided to obtain an Instrument Rating in the US.

I’m not going to stay in the US for a log time since I still have a job in Russia, but I’d like to obtain a Commercial License there. I am almost sure that I will have to come more than once for that, so I am talking about Instrument Rating only for now.

Since I cannot speed up the visa process, I am studying and gaining money for my training. I am going to get my EASA license as well regardless of the FAA one.

ATPL Theory

Finally I found a school where I am going to study my theory. The school is in Poland (I already described some thoughts why I choose that country). The problem is that I have to obtain a permission (something like a TSA approval in the US), and I have to send my application in paper form, which takes some time. I sent my papers, and now I am waiting for an answer.

My meteorology results are not so bad, and I am switching to the Human Performance.

I also applied for the FAA validation of my EASA PPL to the FSDO in Miami since I am still considering that option.

IFR English

Today I passed my practical IFR English exam. In Europe it is a requirement for Instrument Rating. I don’t plan to get European IR now, but my English is pretty good, so why not? It was nothing special even in spite of the fact that I don’t have any IR experience except one flight as a backseat passenger in Cessna C172. Of course I don’t consider my flights as an airline passenger because I don’t hear any communications ๐Ÿ™‚

In the first (written) part I had to define some terms like “straight-in approach”, “jet stream” or “alternate current”. I did not find any unfamiliar terms, and it was harder to express it than understand. After that I had to unfold some abbreviations.

In the second (oral) part I described approach plates (RNAV and ILS) and answered some questions about them, and finally there was a simulated communication with ATC.

Everything was OK, and now I have one more important document ๐Ÿ™‚

Meteorology

After some studying I am not so bad in Aircraft General Knowledge. My result is still not perfect, but I have more than 80%. I am going to continue, but now it’s time to start a new subject. I chose Meteorology as the most difficult one for me as it mostly requires knowledge compared to, for example, Navigation, where I can solve lots of questions by computation.

Meteorology looks like a nightmare for me now as it contains lots of information and bunch of new terms. I had to refresh my knowledge in Geography as well. Nevertheless, it is very interesting, and I am happy that I can understand what happens in our atmosphere much better. Now it is not just beautiful clouds there but logical physical processes. Some years ago I learned some of that information in my hanggliding course, but we did not consider high altitudes then.

I am going to dedicate about 2 weeks per subject. Some subjects will require a longer (for example, Air Law or Meteorology), and others will need a shorter time (for example, Communications). I suppose that I have to maintain my streak for getting closer to my goal. Some years ago I passed Quantum Mechanics exam (my personal nightmare in the institute), so I hope that I have no fear after that ๐Ÿ™‚

Piston Engine

I am working on the ATPL theory. Currently I am studying Aircraft General Knowledge just because it is the first on the alphabetical list after Air Law in alphanumeric order, and I don’t want to learn EASA Air Law now. I am still thinking about studying in the US, and regulations differs there more than any other subject.

I have found a great explanation of Piston Engine work principle: suck, squeeze, bang, blow ๐Ÿ™‚

Actually I am pretty good in school-level physics, and I like vehicles, therefore I know how Piston Engine works. But I love that explanation ๐Ÿ™‚

ATPL Theory

I still did not choose a school for my theory, and my license is still pending, but I am planning a next trip to Europe. I hope that my docs will be ready in one-two weeks, and I’d like to get a first-class medical. It is a requirement for ATPL, and I’d like to be sure that I fit. Additionally I’d like to visit the school, and probably fly some more hours.

I have to stay in the Russian countryside for some weeks, and I miss airplanes. I don’t see any reason to study in Russia now because the flight hour prices are the same, but there are only a few authorized schools, and nobody allows me to fly solo. I am not talking about large institutions, because they require at least three years just for about 200 flight hours, which is not affordable for me. I already have a higher education in Math, and I can easily obtain a Commercial License in some months, therefore 3 years are too long, and 200 hours are too low. I suppose that about 5-7 years ago I could consider that path, but not now.

The time is passing, and while I cannot fly, I still can study. I ordered some books from Oxford Aviation Academy, and signed up for Bristol Ground School question banks. I am going to take at least one test per day, and, of course, read the books. I’d like to pass the exams before winter, but not sure that it is real.

I study a lot. At least 4 hours per day for books and questions. I am still working full-time, that’s why it is not easy at all. I also continue to listen liveATC, and I still not so good in listening, especially in a busy environment.

Apart from airplanes, I study Spanish. It allows to keep my mind in shape.

Now I feel like a student again: lots of information, lots of tasks, a few time for sleeping. Now it’s OK because I am not flying, and I try to use my time efficiently.

ATPL

I have just finished my PPL, and now I am thinking about the next steps. The US seem very attractive, but they are too far. During my PPL from April to June I had to return to Moscow at least twice. It would not be so easy to do that from the US, especially if we are not talking about NY or LA. The other problem is transportation, because I cannot drive to the US, but in Europe I used to easily commute to the airport by myself without renting a car or using public transportation. And, finally, I am not totally sure about the FAA license applicability somewhere outside of the US.

The US is an English-speaking country though, and it has a much more interesting airspace, there is a possibility of internship, and written tests are much easier there. I do not know exactly, but I am trying to gather as much information as I can.

As usual, while I am thinking, nothing happens. That’s why I decided to take a distance EASA ATPL theory course. It usually requires two weeks of on-site training, but it does not matter at all. At the end it can be useful even if I go to the US.

I made a small research, and found two large services: Bristol Ground School and CATS. I also found AviationExam, which is very impressive, but it is only a question bank.

I decided to buy ATPL books, QB from BGS and AE for practicing, and find a good school in Czech or Poland, because I am going to take my exams there.

I also found an interesting fact: the exam price is different in different countries! In spite of EASA (practically you have the same license regardless of a country where you passed your exam), for example, in UK it will be about 1000$, but in Poland it will be about 200$. Ground school prices also vary between countries. I am not sure that UK instructors are better than Polish or Czech, and I am not going to fly only in the UK, which is why my decision about Czech or Poland became even more solid.

I am looking for Bristol paper books, because I love old-school paper books. Of course I have electronic subscription, but it is not a dichotomy: I can have both. I also like AviationExam and BGS Online question banks.

I considered Lithuania as well, because it is closer to Moscow, but I did not find any good school for foreigners there. I considered Hungary, but I don’t see any significant advantages compared to Czech or Poland. They have attractive rates for time building though.

I chose a modular way, and I am going to try flying in different countries. I consider Germany, Greece, Spain, Hungary, Czech. It depends on weather, price and my free time ๐Ÿ™‚

Now I am waiting for replies from different schools, reading Oxford books and looking for Bristol books. I am moving on ๐Ÿ™‚

EASA PPL Written Exam

Today I passed the rest of my written exam subjects. There is a nice point: retaking is totally free. I supposed that I have to pay for all attempts, but I was wrong, in Czech you pay only once.

This time the exam was easy for me. I was better prepared, I knew what to expect, and I went through all of questions in aeroweb.cz. Nevertheless, I am happy that I read the books. I heard that every pilot should do that not just for passing an exam but for solid knowledge, and I am totally agree with that.

Today I saw some students from Hong Kong with graduation certificates from “Flying Academy”. As I know, they did not pass all subjects from the first attempt. Unfortunately I did not have enough time to ask about that school.

I am happy that now I can study in English! ATPL subjects are approximately the same in all EASA countries, but PPL varies significantly. The exam questions in Czech are perfect, but there is not enough evaluation tools in English before the exam. British resources do not work: you can have 95% result in average there and still fail that subject in Czechia. British books help though. Nevertheless, now I am on the ATPL track in terms of theory. I believe that ATPL books and Question Banks match the questions in all EASA countries. Of course, I am not talking about FAA: English is a first language there. I still did not make a final decision about EASA vs FAA track.

EASA PPL Written Exam

Today I took a written test. Actually there were multiple tests, because the whole exam contains 9 subjects. I remember my student years, when I used to not sleep at night before exam, and tried to fulfill all possible blind spots in my knowledge.

Generally speaking, I am a passionate leaner, if the subject is interesting for me. That’s why I don’t suffer from the theoretical part of my education. Possibly only Air Law bothers me a little bit: I don’t understand why I should remember a year of Rome convention on something like that. But to be honest, most of information is relevant and important.

Every time I am very nervous before an exam. I can do nothing with that. This time it was the same: I entered the room, got the question list. Initially checked every question multiple times. And, as usual, after some minutes my brain starts working on the subject itself: I am pretty well prepared, and I should just carefully read the question and select the best answer.

At about 6th subject I felt like that: “ONE MORE? Oh, I supposed that it was the last one!”

Generally I got a very unexpected result: I failed the subjects I was the most confident in before the exam. Of course, during the exam after getting the question lists I approximately understood that I am in danger with those subjects, and possibly I have to retake.

I failed Navigation, Aircraft General Knowledge and Principles of Flight. About Navigation – everything is OK with charts and computations, but compass turning and acceleration errors, magnetic north drift, AIP GEN 1-2-1… Uhh. About Aircraft General Knowledge and Principles of Flight – I just have to study some more, it is not so simple as it seemed to me.

I have to tell some words about question banks. I used to read the books, but I also use question banks to estimate my level. For PPL I used ppltutor.com (heh, now they provide only FAA version, but in 2017 they gave EASA) and pplcruiser.co.uk. None of them is a good idea for Czech. Later I also found aeroweb.cz, and it is great. The only problem is that it is in Czech, and google translate works (or worked in 2017?) terribly with that language. Anyway, oxford books works in any case.

I am not very disappointed. Of course I am not happy, but not a big deal. The main point is that I passed Air Law: I have to do it before the first solo. I am still not ready to fly solo according to my instructors, but it is always good to finish at least the paperwork. The next exam is in one month, so I have plenty of time to prepare just 3 subjects. Especially because now I better understand my weak points.