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Exams: CPL only (13) versus ATPL (14)

What exactly does this involve nowadays?

A friend has an EASA PPL and is planning to do the CPL theory, purely to enable instructing for the EASA PPL. (Without the CPL theory one can instruct only towards the LAPL).

The CPL used to be 9 exams for as long as I can remember (with a credit for HP&L if you previously did the JAA IR theory) but is apparently now 11 exams. Is this correct, and is there any way to reduce it?

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

but is apparently now 11 exams. Is this correct, and is there any way to reduce it?

13 it is AFAIK. With an IR, you will have to do two less (HPL and MET). With a university degree in aerospace engineering – or similar – one usually gets credit for some of the technical exams. The good thing for your friend: If he does the full CPL he will be able to instruct PPL and CPL too.

EDDS - Stuttgart

FCL.310 Theoretical Knowledge Examination
An applicant for a CPL (A) shall demonstrate a level of knowledge appropriate to the
privileges granted in the following subjects:
— Air Law,
— Aircraft General Knowledge – Airframe/Systems/Powerplant,
— Aircraft General Knowledge – Instrumentation,
— Mass and Balance,
— Performance,
— Flight Planning and Monitoring,
— Human Performance,
— Meteorology,
— General Navigation,
— Radio Navigation,
— Operational Procedures,
— Principles of Flight,
— Visual Flight Rules (VFR) Communications.

So that seems to be 13 subject headings.
But no ‘signals’ exam . The pleasure of decoding Morse that’s given so slowly that you’ve written ‘T’ or ‘E’ before the letter’s finished.

If you are thinking about doing the rest of the CPL, then the exam passes are only valid for 3 years IIRC

KHWD- Hayward California; EGTN Enstone Oxfordshire, United States

Hmmmm… the increase from 9 to 13 increases the length of the whole exercise, including the # of times you have to visit Gatwick for the exams.

There is no intention in this case to actually do the CPL flight training and test AFAIK.

Am I also right that since only “CPL theory” is required to teach the PPL, it doesn’t matter if some of the exams have lapsed before the others are completed? Obviously there is a danger there in that if the syllabus is regrouped, the CAA could declare that those you have previously passed need to be done again.

I heard that CATS (an FTO at Cranfield) is doing the classroom stuff at Gatwick which makes it more accessible for those who have to travel a long way.

Last Edited by Peter at 25 Jun 06:49
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I thought there was a proposal in the works to enable PPLs to become instructors? Or have I got it wrong?

Darley Moor, Gamston (UK)

Yes – a pure EASA PPL can become an EASA PPL FI but needs CPL theory exam passes (which can be expired).

This I believe is true regardless of whether you are paid or not.

There was a proposal from EASA a few years ago to not need any CPL stuff but there was a huge uproar from the PPL training business. So this got killed and remains for the sub-ICAO LAPL only.

Decades ago, in the UK, a PPL could teach the PPL and even get paid for it. Then, with JAA (1999+) I think, you needed an actual whole CPL to get paid. Now you don’t need the CPL but need the CPL theory passes.

I used to fly with an instructor (a school CFI, now retired) who never had more than a PPL. He got grandfathered all the way, and was teaching the PPL and the IMCR All kinds of things were possible and some I won’t mention because the people are still in the business.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

OK, not of interest to me but I can’t help thinking that’s bad. I learned a lot in my formative years from old timers who were purely voluntary club instructors, who had no interest in commercial flying and just wanted to help out at the club and pass on their knowledge.

We live in an age where the basics of actually flying aeroplanes is being lost to system operators with no finesse or feeling of the air over the wings. This stuff is still there with the Gliding, and lighter end of powered flight, but has all but gone from the newer recruits to the professional ranks.

This leads to bad things like AF447.

The days of the “self improver” who ended up in the left seat of an airliner after instructing on 150’s then flying newspapers in Aztecs, have gone, and that’s a pity.

Darley Moor, Gamston (UK)

All kinds of things were possible and some I won’t mention because the people are still in the business.

Yes, the old times… I know a guy (an excellent pilot and instructor by the way) who – through countless changes in national rules and legislation and later JAR, EU and EASA – now has an unfrozen/unrestricted ATPL without sitting a single ATPL exam or having flown a single minute in a multi-crew aeroplane. Unfortunately he is too old now to use it…

Last Edited by what_next at 25 Jun 09:24
EDDS - Stuttgart

Does anyone know the reason why they increased number of subjects for the CPL theory?

(When i did my JAA IR 3 years ago i was thinking that i might add the CPL theory one day…)


ESOW Västerås, Sweden

I’ll answer my own question since i contacted an ATPL-ground in Stockholm yesterday.

The CPL theory content is still the same. They just re-arranged it so it has the same structure as the ATPL-theory.

13 subjects.

If you have EASA IR, then credits for HP and Met.

If you have PPL then credits for VFR Com.

So total 10 subjects for a student with IR.


Last Edited by Jonas at 28 Aug 09:38
ESOW Västerås, Sweden
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