Friday, 10 June 2011

They arrive...

It's Thursday evening and another week is nearly complete. This week again has involved JAA (European) Ground School over four days, concluding tomorrow.  As mentioned before, the Ground School consists of a number of classroom lessons lead by Ground Instructors who run through everything that we could possibly need to know. This week we have covered Communication, Operational Procedures, Human Performance and Limitations, General Flying Safety and today/tomorrow we're studying the dreaded Air Law.

The week has actually gone by extremely quickly. On Monday we took our first of two JAA internal Ground School exams. The pass rate is set at 75% (also the pass rate for both the FAA PPL and ATPL exams - more later). The test consisted of fifty multiple choice questions covering everything we had learnt the previous week. What has been great is the atmosphere amongst the group and discussions were held quite regularly which significantly helped the learning process. I got a pass rate of 80%. To me the mark was not the important thing, it was now knowing how the questions are to be presented and how to actually answer them. After receiving my paper back it was obvious where I had not read some of the questions correctly and by just taking that little bit of extra time and thought the mark could have been much higher.

Tuesday through to tomorrow sees the final phase of our JAA Ground School culminating in the second test being taken at the same time on this coming Monday.

Having first arrived in America (a place I have once visited before but only when much younger), it was all very surreal and taking everything in all at once was impossible. It was simply about going with the flow. Now that I've been here almost three weeks (a friend of mine only emailed me yesterday to remind me of that fact!) my surroundings are starting to become more of a reality. I suppose Florida is not the worst place in the world to spend the last months of my teenage years. The facilities and activities that are available to us all are fantastic. There are sports facilities in abundance, a sandy beach only ten minutes down the road by taxi, dozens of places to eat and drink and temperatures surpassing the 30 degrees mark everyday. For example - who can say their revision breaks are taken in the pool?! However this afternoon brought a blow that really brings me back down to earth with a bang - the 'ATPLs.'

The 'ATPLs' or Air Transport Pilot License exams to be exact are considered to be the most challenging exams of any commercial aviators career. The 14 tests consist of a number of subjects going into extreme detail regarding the entire world that is the air transport industry. It can cover anything from the nuts and bolts in a pressure valve to the navigation of a commercial airliner. Over the past few weeks I've spoken to a significant number of students already here training who are at various stages along their respective courses. Every one that I have spoken to has said that they are "a pain in the arse." [the extremely clean version!]

Today we received all of our folders and relevant paperwork with regards to these exams which will take six months to complete, divided into three modules. As far as I am aware these will begin in August/September. Having had a short look through one of the sealed packs the work seems extremely detailed and time consuming. I must say these for me will certainly be the hardest part of the course. The pass rate for these is again, similar to the internal exams, 75%. However due to the Flybe scheme I currently fall under an average pass mark of 90% or above (over the 14 exams) is only acceptable. Added pressure for sure.

This weekend will again involve a lot of time in the books to again try to attain a pass mark in this coming internal exam. I'm sure there will also be time for the beach and a bit of downtime in there also...

Following successful completion of the JAA Ground School brings one week (or evenings) of FAA Ground School study. More on this next week.

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