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Are big jets really easy to fly, or is the ATPL theory just garbage?

1 in 3 airline pilots in Pakistan have fake licenses according to their aviation minister.

It is unclear whether their CPL/IRs are totally fake i.e. fake flight training and checkrides and fake classroom time and theory exam passes.

They may have just bought the exams, which frankly many would have done given half a chance because the JAA/EASA ATPL exams are mostly crap. Reportedly, there used to be an FTO in Spain which sold the 14-exam packages for €10k. I met someone in Spain who described to me how it worked (an FTO employee actually sat the exams). And FTO instructors readily tell stories of exam cheating by candidates from certain parts of the world. This was many years ago, however. And a non aviation commentator may well think that without the exam passes you can’t fly a plane!

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

The theory isn’t garbage (some of it is pointless though and resources would be better used to showcase concluded accident reports). Learning multiple choice questions by hard is garbage. Profit oriented flight schools producing frozen atpls that have no real aeronautical education except for memorizing multiple choice questions, that’s also garbage.

I’d guess any „average“ person could do a type rating course and pretend to know how to engage the autopilot, some avid flight sim gamers even more so. That’s one thing.

Being a professional and competent airline pilot is another thing. „Takes one to see one“, perhaps.

EASA CB IR Training
Europe/Austria

I was just about to post this link.

What even amazes me more is the following:
PIA has grounded all its pilots who hold fake licenses, effective immediately.

Does this mean they knew who had a fake license and let them fly anyway?

Germany

Alex wrote:

Does this mean they knew who had a fake license and let them fly anyway?

I thought the same thing, but the charitable interpretation is that they’ve just found out.

ESKC (Uppsala/Sundbro), Sweden

Reading the professional part of Pprune for years, this doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Seems pretty prevalent in that part of the world, not only with PIA. I do find it extraordinary, however, that a government minister goes on the record exposing this scam. Good on him, wonder what his future career path will look like…..

Peter, to your subject question, yes big jets and even small are pretty easy to fly when things are in normal operations. You could learn how to fly one procedurally without 14 ATP exams. FAA pilots do – there is only one exam there.

As @Snoopy says, flying them well through the envelope and handling challenges is a different matter. But none of that has much to with the exams.

EGTK Oxford

Being a professional and competent airline pilot is another thing. „Takes one to see one“, perhaps.

That, however, is not something you get from a school which got you a CPL/IR in a piston twin.

Presumably the actual learning how to fly an A320 is done wholly on the TR course. Could this be achieved DIY, on a good sim, at home?

Once you are actually flying the real plane, it will be like anything else in flying: you are only as good as your currency, your ability/willingness to learn from past flights, etc. How long before you would be unrecognisable as a fake i.e. look like someone who just came off the TR course? A few flights, perhaps?

Some % of ex TR course pilots must be pretty useless, in any country, so maybe this is what enables a keen DIY simmer to get into the system. Especially if he picked up the theory ring binders from the TR course.

I actually suspect these pilots did have some exposure to the training system, so they could do the “lingo”.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I’ve seen two YouTube videos, one made in the UK, one in Germany, where they took some average Joe from the street and put them in a professional flight simulator. The scenario in both cases was something like “you are in cruise onboard a B737 when both pilots are incapacitated. Can you land the plane?”

In the UK video, the female protagonist took some 20 minutes or so to figure out how to use the radio and call for help. They then gave her a few hints how to do that, and once she had it set up correctly the simulated ATC gave her a rated pilot to talk her through landing the plane, which she did successfully via autoland. But the conclusion was that she would not have made it in a real case, because of her inability to call for help all by herself.

In the German video, the simulated case was similar, although I think they weren’t in cruise but at 10.000 ft. The guy then performed a pretty decent visual approach and manual landing at Düsseldorf with only some talking to by ATC, but at the end they casually revealed he was a simmer…duh.

I for one wonder if a PPL with some sim experience would be able to land some big iron. At least one knows how to set up the radio and dial 121,500 and 7700 in the transponder. Other than that, the “PPL knowledge” might even be harmful because a jet needs to be flown differently than a SEP (I assume my main problem would be the delay between me setting the thrust lever and the turbines reaching the desired level of thrust, as well as being clueless about the proper speeds for approach, flaps, gear down etc…)

Last Edited by MedEwok at 26 Jun 06:34
Novice pilot
EDVM Hildesheim, Germany

It’s not hard to land a 737. I had 1.5hrs on a full motion sim with an instructor and did it fine.

What I was wondering, however, was how much effort it would take for a “fake” to look no worse than a fairly bad case who has just come off the TR course i.e. good enough to not look like an obvious fake. Starting with turning up for the flight, getting into the cockpit and doing the right things there, etc.

I have been told that less than 5% of ex TR people are really good. These are the pilots who get hired first; they go past the long queue. The bulk are average; one retired airline pilot with decades of experience said that most airline pilots are not really very bright. The rest?

Many years ago I asked a lawyer how long I would have to work in his office before I could completely successfully impersonate a solicitor. He reckoned I could do it in 1 year. I suspect this is because most work is routine and repetitive, and the special cases get looked up in reference books (probably in closed forums, these days ) so the lawyer doesn’t actually need to remember the stuff he did in his study, years ago. Actually the special cases are often done badly, which is why if you need an expert you need to pick an expert

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

MedEwok wrote:

I for one wonder if a PPL with some sim experience would be able to land some big iron. At least one knows how to set up the radio and dial 121,500 and 7700 in the transponder. Other than that, the “PPL knowledge” might even be harmful because a jet needs to be flown differently than a SEP (I assume my main problem would be the delay between me setting the thrust lever and the turbines reaching the desired level of thrust, as well as being clueless about the proper speeds for approach, flaps, gear down etc…)

I’m pretty sure I would be able to get an airliner on the ground using the autopilot. I don’t expect to pull off a manual landing successfully.

ESKC (Uppsala/Sundbro), Sweden
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