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Now official: JAA/EASA ATPL theory is largely garbage

MedEwok wrote:

Still, the quota of failed exams is very low because med students are absolute gods at hammering MC questions over and over after 5 years of doing so throughout the course.

My brother (who’s doctor) asked me when I was preparing for IR exams: “And you’re making big deal about some 12.000 questions?”

LDZA LDVA, Croatia

Emir wrote:

My brother (who’s doctor) asked me when I was preparing for IR exams

I think we are missing the point, is he a “private doctor” (treating himself) or “commercial doctor” (treating others)?

ESSEX, United Kingdom

Capitaine wrote:

Bloom’s taxonomy is a great place to start:

Interesting. From the technical university there were two main roads to go. Every subject involved lots of exercises. Most people focused on doing the exercises. Lots of work, but a main part of the exercise is to apply methods of dealing with complex problems. Reading for the exam almost completely consisted of doing the most difficult exercises and doing exercises from old exams (no multiple choice).

The other method used by much fewer were to actually read and study text books. Understanding the basics on a fundamental level and applying that to the exams.

You could get straight As with either method, but in graduate courses, after 3-4 years, the exams started to become oral, due to more specific courses and fewer students taking each course. The problem wasn’t so much about the exam itself, but rather how on earth am I going to study for an oral exam? The guys and girls who had adopted the “read text book approach” simple continued as usual. For the rest (the majority) some (much more) more reading had to be done of course, but the way it went was mostly to pass questions to each other, make small problems to solve and so on. Instead of working hard on exercises, it became a thing of creating questions, discussing topics etc. Still, you could get straight A’s doing either approach.

The brain works in mysterious ways IMO. But I think for higher order skills a requirement is to let the knowledge mature. That process can take several years, and is not something you do at the university. There simply is way too much (raw) knowledge to consume, and this knowledge is needed for the higher order skills to have any value. After some years, you may not remember half of the knowledge you had, you only use maybe 10% of it, but the process of acquiring that knowledge is never lost, whether you read, work on it, or discuss/pose questions. When doing the thesis, some higher order evaluation and synthesis is required, but only in a very specific scope.

ATPL, I have no idea really, but if it is remotely similar to PPL, I would do a combination of studying, doing exercises and discussing with others. It worked just fine for the PPL. However, for some subjects you simply do have to know a lot, like medicine and law.

Ibra wrote:

I think we are missing the point, is he a “private doctor” (treating himself) or “commercial doctor” (treating others)?

a commercial one

LDZA LDVA, Croatia

One could learn the flying stuff purely from the books (or other written theory material) but it would be unbelievably tedious.

I never really read the (then Trevor Thom, now Pooley) PPL books (used the PPL Confuser), nor the JAA IR theory (which I had to buy for £1000 to get the FTO to sign me off to sit the 7 exams, and which went on Ebay immediately); I used a computer QB. I read the FAA PPL book (more practical) and did a computer QB for it, and never read the FAA CPL book (nor used a QB; the exam was just $90 so I just sat it.

It has been stated that the stuff in the 14 EASA CPL/IR (“ATPL”) exams is equivalent to a university degree and that’s probably about right. But you can’t do a degree by banging a computer QB. Well, you can get a Masters in various humanities subjects with copy/paste from google…

I think the composition of the theory training is stuck in tradition, everybody in the business is making lots of money out of delivering it, and it serves the useful purpose of making it hard for some undesirable person to get into an airliner cockpit. If terrorists or other mad people could get into the system in numbers, airline travel would end immediately. Germanwings (and other suicides) was pretty unusual and fortunately that guy was weird, nowadays others can look out for weird pilots, and the German personal data safeguarding system was implicated too. Nearly all “proper” suicide terrorists are way too stupid; the 9/11 lot were too but some of them weren’t and did get through the pilot training to some extent. No amount of vetting can achieve this outcome; making the process tedious seems to work.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

It has been stated that the stuff in the 14 EASA CPL/IR (“ATPL”) exams is equivalent to a university degree and that’s probably about right.

Not sure this holds up. I’m trying to remember back but I don’t think I put more than, say 50 hours into each subject (only did 7 IR exams). which translates to 2 credits in the ECTS system. That would give the ATPL a total of 28 credits, and a 4 year degree is typically 240 credits. Even if my estimate of time spend is off by a factor of two you’re still only up to one year of a degree.

EIWT, Ireland

Peter wrote:

It has been stated that the stuff in the 14 EASA CPL/IR (“ATPL”) exams is equivalent to a university degree and that’s probably about right

I think this is overstating the quantity and complexity of the ATPL-stuff by far.
I have a degree in engineering (being used in my professional life), and, in my second life, I am about to finish up the EASA-ATPL written (taken 50% of the exams already and brushing up the other half to be able to get to the 85%-level that is required by the ATO before they recommend students for the test.).
The training, effort and skull sweat required to pass 14 ATPL-exams does not even come close to what it took me to get through engineering school…

Last Edited by tschnell at 08 Nov 19:25
Friedrichshafen EDNY

OK let me qualify my post above: “when properly absorbed” is the key phrase. In the flying exams the vast majority of the stuff is not absorbed at all, ever. But in theory it could be.

And indeed when I read that claim some years ago, it did say it meant one year of a degree.

I did an electronics degree myself.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Some schools do count freelance Part 66 exams as 2 or 3 modules in their MSc/Eng, I am not sure how heavy ATPL are but some do get all these done in 3 months full time so definetly not comparable to 10 years of medical studies :)

ESSEX, United Kingdom

For sure not medical studies.

I was always into electronics and I knew more about electronics when I started univ than I was expected to know upon leaving it. I thus basically learnt almost nothing (about electronics). I had to learn a lot of other stuff which most electronics engineers never use (Laplace transforms, Bessel functions, god knows what else).

A bit like aviation exams then…

And I think it is true for most human disciplines that if you take a keen personal interest in something for say a year or a few, you will reach “expert” level.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom
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