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PPL FI without CPL theory

Hi Jojo,

You can do the examns in France and the training with distance learning in the UK


Thank you Vieke! That’s really good news for me, not least because the exam fees are much cheaper over here - € 350 for all 13 CPL exams, compared to a lot more, I think, in the UK. Around GBP 70 or 80 for each exam, from memory?


Presumably the CPL exams in France will be in English? And…Will the question database be similar to the one the UK CAA would use- no good doing a TK course ‘tailored’ to the UK CAA exams if you then go to France and sit a bunch of exams that your TKcourse wasn’t ‘tailored’ to just to save a few pounds / euro.

EGNV and Fishburn Airfield

Ha! you make me laugh! You obviously don’t think I’ve thought this through properly, do you ? !!! :p

The questions will be in English. French or English, je m’en fiche de toute façon…!


There is a risk in this.

Firstly, it is up to the DGAC and nobody else to decide what they accept in terms of what was done and where, for a DGAC-issued CPL.

Similarly, for a UK CAA issued CPL it would be up to the UK CAA to decide what to accept.

If you do something the DGAC won’t later accept, you are up the xxxx creek and have wasted all your time and money.

It is within their right to insist that you wear yellow knickers (or, being France, no knickers ) while sitting the exams… EASA FCL is little to do with this… The UK has a pretty good history of complying with every piece of nonsense from Brussels and even they have been fighting a dozen rearguard actions in FCL implementation where it brought a greater choice. Window screens for the IR, anybody…?

So I would check with the DGAC first, and if they don’t give an affirmative in writing, forget it. And even if they do, you may have to sue them to get it enforced if they later change their mind, which is a process which has been successfully done in the UK (well, to the extent of walking into the CAA house with solicitor) but may have “long term repercussions” in the French aeroclub scene.

Jojo – if this was the UK you would have the full FI for 3 years now, because you enrolled on a course where a full FI was assured at the end provided you met the requirements as they were published when you enrolled. A letter from a solicitor would have done it, but probably would not have been necessary.

Secondly, consider the possibility that the exams hosted in France may be based on the original JAA ATPL QB and not the later version which had many rubbish questions removed. The “rubbish removal” was done only by some CAAs, notably UK and Germany. The Greeks for example never did anything with it. Have the French? French institutions are well known for liking “academic conformity”.

So the CATS CPL online QB (which will be based on the UK CAA cleaned-up version of the original JAA ATPL QB) may not be a good match for French hosted CPL exams, in that you may encounter questions in the exams which were not in the CATS QB which you spent months learning. The removed rubbish may be 30% of the total…

What I encountered when doing the 7-question JAA IR in the UK was the opposite to the above: the online QB (not CATS; I used which was associated with GTS) was full of extra crap, none of which was found in the actual exams. So that was just a waste of my time, but the other way round would be risky. I think the CATS QB probably is quite well cleaned up nowadays.

Has anybody actually done this (distance learning in the UK and exams outside the UK)? It cannot be many people, not least because it has been “for ever” the UK CAA position that the exams and the ground and flight training cannot be separated (except to the extent that most European schools accepted UK exam passes but that also meant all-UK ground school classroom time because the ground school FTO signed you off as ready to sit the exams, for the 1000 quid). Also almost nobody is doing the CPL exams only without the CPL flight training.

Thirdly, the CATS CPL course involves several 4-day (IIRC) classroom sessions, which they do only in the UK (Gatwick and Luton). So avoiding having to travel to the UK for the exams alone may waste the whole project if the DGAC don’t like it for some reason at the very end.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Thanks for that very comprehensive rundown Peter…I really didn’t think it was going to be THAT complicated. How naive of me!

Just rang a French colleague who did his theoretical training in the UK. His view is that as long as the school is CAA-approved, it will be acceptable to the DGAC. Only way to find out is to contact the DGAC, of course.

The question bank issue is another can of worms….

Good thinking, guys! Justin, you are obviously cunningerer than I !

Some days I wonder why I’m doing all this just to go teach in an aeroclub for nada and get treated like…ahem…anyway….

Tell ya, the day I get this mess sorted, I’m opening a mega bottle of Ruinart !


The other option is to do my exams in the UK, of course….provided the final result is acceptable to the DGAC. It would just be so much easier to be able to sit them ici.


His view is that as long as the school is CAA-approved, it will be acceptable to the DGAC. Only way to find out is to contact the DGAC, of course.

Historically, UK exam passes were acceptable to just about every flight training establishment anywhere. I have never heard of any exceptions.

The issue is with the mixture of UK classroom, UK distance learning, and French exams.

And if somebody has done it they aren’t going to advertise it. I may as well post here asking if anybody has got a Class 1 with 9 diopters of uncorrected vision, or put 10:1 pistons in their G-reg PA28-181.

But, yeah, if you find somebody who has actually done this, and can show you that the DGAC is aware of the exact route used (rather than that he/she got away with it because somebody couldn’t read, which is the usual scenario these days), then you have a good data point. I would still be careful if it was me and would get it in writing from the DGAC.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

And if somebody has done it they aren’t going to advertise it.

Why not? This should all be above board and nailed down and fully acceptable….shouldn’t it?

We are in E..U…R…..O….P….E….. after all? One big exam room, non ! ?


Well, just ’phoned CATS and the person I spoke to there was very helpful indeed.

- It is not unusual, apparently, for students to do ground school in the UK and then sit the exams elsewhere
- The appropriate paperwork is issued to satisfy the national authority that the candidate has completed an approved course of study at an ATO
- Regarding the QB: there should be just ‘one’ European QB but there isn’t – surprise! So, yes, that’s a risk. But if the candidate knows the material s/he will be ok. So, hugging that nugget of wisdom (lol!), I shall get back to work….

….come and rescue me if you don’t here anything more from me soon. I might have fallen into a question bank and expired, unnoticed by the world….

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