Phase 2 – The ATPL Glass is Half Full

With trepidation and wonder as to where the time went, on the 9th and 10th May I sat 4 more EASA theory exams at the Coventry exam centre ran by L3.  These exams marked my half way point through all of my subjects, over 75% ground school completion on time, and with only 10 weeks remaining from starting my last phase to completion of ground school. The end is in sight, there is light at the end of this tunnel!

Since starting Meteorology, Principles of Flight, Instruments and Mass & Balance in early March, the past few months have been a blur. Phase 1 tended to drag with only 3 subjects but 12 weeks to complete. Whereas, Phase 2 was the counter opposite, the same amount of time for only 1 more subject but considerably larger content. Overall, the subject matter in these topics, while vast, was also particularly interesting.

Thankfully, I can celebrate 7 first time passes. I had my doubts but credit to my class and family, who pulled me through some dark patches were I thought the worst. There have been some good memories in phase 2: I turned 29, I gave 2 classmates the opportunity to fly in a light aircraft for the first time and I threw a classmates sock out of a moving vehicle (it was an eventful journey back from Coventry after exams).


Met speaks for itself and covers everything from the International Standard Atmosphere (ISA) to the origins of air masses, pressure systems and frontal activity, global climatology and practical interpretation of meteorological information (SIGWX, TAFs, METARs, surface pressure charts and satellite imagery).   Met is the largest and longest exam in the syllabus with 84 questions lasting 2 hours.

SIGWX chart for Europe

Principles of Flight

One of the most technically challenging subjects, Principles of Flight (PoF) is also arguably the most interesting. In Pof, flight mechanics is taught in different aircraft states (effects on Lift, Weight, Drag and Thrust in the climb, descent, and turning) which will take the form of trigonometric equations. Subsonic, transonic and supersonic flight conditions, the effects of subsonic incompressible and compressible airflow conditions and how this effects drag (and its associated coefficients) and how it changes the quicker the aircraft travels. Most people dread the word “stability” and its associated content, it is a mind bender, but there are lots of sources, other than course material, that can help. I found NASAs website really useful, in particular in visualising the effects of controls and its impact on stability.

NASAs website is an absolute goldmine of easily digestible information and helped me grasp concepts before my brain exploded!


Instruments forms part of the Aircraft General Knowledge syllabus but I assume has been split out into its own subject due to shear size of content. This is a topic which is best learnt whilst actually sitting in a school simulator; using a good quality flight simulator model at home on the likes of X-Plane or Microsoft FSX or at least sitting in a light aircraft to play with pressure and air driven instruments. Otherwise, the content can be extraordinarily tedious without any applied context to reality.

Clearly a very important subject given these are the information sources for the pilots to make informed decisions, but can be quite difficult to learn the inner workings of modern jet transport aircraft from a PowerPoint slide….all in all can make for good sheep counting! Minus the self confession of some falling asleep in class, you do learn about the functions of: Flight Management Computers, Inertial Navigators, Modern EFIS Primary flight displays and Engine instrumentation in particular: Boeing EICAS and Airbus ECAM.

B737 Main Panel

Mass and Balance

This is all about calculating where the Centre of Gravity of the aircraft is situated and ensuring it is maintained within limits. Remember when you were at school doing levers, calculating distances and balancing the see saw? Well this is no different just with some mean looking graphs (they are actually really useful) and a few equations.

Mass and Balance
Example Load and Trim sheet used for a Medium Range Jet Transport (MRJT) aircraft and what happens when you get it wrong!

Famous Last words….

Reflecting on the half way marker makes me excited for the final push and the 21 May marks the start of my final 7 subjects. Its going to be a very quick final 10 weeks in Ground School.


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