AvPrep Aviation Industry Blog - Tips to help pass a CPL flight test

Tips to help pass a CPL flight test

Got a CPL flight test coming up? Here’s some tips to help you pass…..

The time has come. You have passed all of your CPL theory exams, you have built up your hours, conducted enough training with an instructor and passed your pre-license test. The CPL Flight Test is just around the corner. Months and months of hard work and training needs to come together while you demonstrate your skills and knowledge over a few hours with an Authorized Testing Officer (ATO). It can be pretty daunting. But, there are many factors that can affect the outcome. You’re only as strong as your weakest link. So here’s a few tips to help you pass your CPL flight test.

Know what you are in for

The flight test form is your starting point. It outlines exactly what the testing officer will be asking you to do during the flight. Remember that essentially, you are assuming the role of a commercial pilot to perform a DAY/VFR Charter flight, so it’s important to conduct a well rehearsed flight briefing and fly as accurately and efficiently as possible. Information regarding the flight test requirements and tolerances as well as the actual flight test form can be found on our useful links page. Read them thoroughly and if you have any questions, ask your instructor, CFI or the actual ATO who will be conducting your test.

Practice Makes Perfect

Prior to the test, don’t be afraid to ask your ATO for a similar route to what you will be flying on the day. You may even be lucky enough to be given the actual route. Considering how much money you would have spent getting to this point, it makes sense to head out in the plane you’ll be conducting your test in and rehearse the duties you’ll be performing on the day. The solo cost of hiring a plane for a couple of hours to rehearse is minor compared to failing and needing to re-sit the flight test at a later date.

Eat well, sleep well

Although this is something you should be doing anyway, in the days leading up to the flight test and especially the day/night before hand, it’s important that you are at your peak. That only comes from maintaining a healthy lifestyle. That is, eating plenty of fresh food as part of a healthy and balanced diet, getting a good amount of regular exercise and being well rested will ensure that you are at the top of your game both physically and mentally. Also, don’t forget to take plenty of water and snacks for both yourself and your testing officer (and maybe even a copy of Aviation Trader for your ATO to flick through).

Ground theory component / KDR consolidation

Before you get into the aircraft, you will be required to complete an oral examination of both your KDRs from all of your passed exams (unless of course you got 100% for all of them, in which case, nevermind about this bit) and the “Ground Theory Component” of the CPL Flight Test. For your KDRs, take each line in each report (your incorrectly answered questions), go to the Manual of Standards for the subject, copy and paste it into a document, then collate an easily referenceable amount of information on that area of knowledge deficiency. This will take some time, but if you show your ATO that you have done the research into those areas and can easily answer a random question fired at you, it’s simply a matter of going through that document with them, and they will sign off your KDRs and begin the ground theory component of your test. Information as to the areas you’ll be required to answer questions on is located at the top of the flight test form under “Ground Theory Component”. Again, the same rules apply, create a document that you can reference information from. If you don’t know the answer off the top of your head (which is ideal), you will at least need to know where to find the information and answer the question within a reasonable amount of time. Having an EFB loaded up with all of the latest documentation and being proficient in using it to quickly find the answer to the questions posed is ideal also. Remember, the ATO wants to go flying with you, so don’t muck around, answer the question as quickly as possible.

Get to know your testing officer

Your testing officer is a human being like everyone else, and most of them are exceptional people and amazing pilots in their own right. They have a wealth of knowledge and you will no doubt learn a lot during your test. So why not try and get to know them beforehand. Having a general rapport and being familiar with your ATO means that on the day, you won’t be breaking the ice 5 minutes before you begin the test. Organise a phone call or perhaps even a zoom session with them to go over the test requirements and get a feel for how they operate and therefore, how they’ll be expecting you to operate during the test. It’s worth a try at least!

You’re just going for a fly with a mate

The CPL Flight Test is as much a mental test as it is a skills test. Your mindset and confidence levels will undoubtedly have an effect on your performance. As mentioned, the test is essentially a simulated DAY/VFR Charter flight with a whole heap of emergency procedures and skill proficiency testing, but try and imagine that your “just going for a fly with a mate”, seeing some of the sites and showing them some of your skills. Keep it simple! Remember, you aren’t “Maverick” yet. The ATO wants to see you perform a series of tasks safely and within tolerance. That’s all!

Split up the journey

It’s a long flight to several places, in and out of CTA, emergency procedures and skills testing, but it’s still simply a multiple leg journey. Split it up, draw a mud map from leg to leg. Once a leg is over, reset and move to the next. If you make little mistakes or aren’t flying quite as well as you would like, move onto the next leg with a fresh head. What’s done is done. If you’re still in command of the aircraft you haven’t failed yet, so keep going.

It ain’t over til it’s over

Many people make the mistake of relaxing too much towards the final stage of the flight test. The test is not over until you are back on the ground with your passenger (the ATO) safely disembarked and your plane nicely tied down with the gust locks in place and the keys on the desk at reception. That is when you can relax, congratulate yourself and thank your testing officer, which of course you should do.

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