Flight test for air transport pilot licence

You must do a flight test to get an air transport pilot licence (ATPL) for aeroplane (ATPLA) or helicopter (ATPLH).

The test finds out if you can:

  • fly as pilot-in-command of a multi-crew aircraft operation
  • manage normal and non-normal operations with a strong focus on non-technical skills.

Who can do the ATPL flight test

To do the ATPL test, you must:

  • be at least 21 years old
  • have passed the ATPL knowledge exams
  • meet the minimum experience requirements
  • have a command multi-engine aeroplane instrument rating if you're applying for an ATPLA.

You must also have completed multi-crew cooperation training.

You are exempt from this under CASA EX102/18 if you work for an airline and:

  • hold a pilot-type rating
  • have at least 50 hours experience as a pilot in multi-crew operations under an Australian air operator's certificate holder
  • engaged in regular public transport operations in line with Civil Aviation Order (CAO) 82.3 or CAO 82.5 during the last 3 years.

Flight test format

You will be assessed against Part 61 Manual of Standards (MOS) Section K, Schedule 5.

The tests are different for each category rating, but will be in a realistic environment.

ATPLA flight test format

You will do the ATPLA flight test:

  • as an instrument flight rules (IFR) operation
  • in a multi-engine turbine-powered aeroplane configured for flight and operated with a co-pilot.

The test includes elements of the:

  • instrument rating test
  • pilot type rating flight test.

ATPLH flight test format

You will do the ATPLH flight test as a visual flight rules (VFR) operation. You will do it in a turbine-powered helicopter that is:

  • certified for night VFR operations
  • configured for flight and operated with a co-pilot.

You may do the ATPLH test as an IFR operation.

What you can expect

ATPL flight tests are scenario-based, line-oriented assessments.

In the test, you will use:

  • operational documents for your aircraft
  • operational briefings
  • a real-time flow of events.

During the test, you could be in non-scripted situations. This tests how well you can manage changes in areas like:

  • leadership
  • cockpit management
  • communication management
  • task prioritisation.

The examiner will make the test to include challenges such as:

  • variable and high workloads
  • non-normal conditions that can affect a planned flight's operations, such as air-return, diversion or continuation
  • significant weather issues
  • technical issues, such as minimum equipment lists or configuration deviation lists
  • reaching operational or aircraft performance limits.

Where to do the flight test

You will probably do your flight test as part of a command upgrade training program.

Some airlines have the test as part of their first-officer upgrade training program.

Your test will be with one of the following:

  • A pilot with a Part 61 flight examiner rating and ATPL flight test endorsement.
  • A pilot with a regulation 61.040 approval including conducting ATPL flight tests.
  • CASA officers who hold an appropriate delegation.

You may need to do the test in an aircraft.

It's sometimes possible to do the test in an approved flight simulator.

Working overseas

If you need an ATPL overseas, you may have to pay for your own flight test in Australia.

You don't need to do the flight test if your licence is from the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand.

If you're converting another foreign licence, you must pass the Australian ATPL flight test.

You can only do a flight test outside Australia with:

  • a flight examiner
  • 61.040 approval holder
  • delegate of CASA.

It may be hard for an operator to arrange this. It can also be costly if a CASA inspector does the flight test overseas.

It may be cheaper to have the inspector do more than one test while on site.

Operators who do instrument proficiency checks and pilot type-rating flight tests could arrange for one of their flight examiners to apply for:

  • the ATPL flight test endorsement
  • a 61.040 approval for ATPL flight testing.

Passing other proficiency checks

Your flight test could also satisfy both the instrument proficiency check (IPC) and operator proficiency check (OPC).

You pass an IPC when:

  • you pass the ATPLA
  • you pass the ATPLH flight test as a VFR or IFR operation and IPC during a combined flight.

To get the ATPL licence, you need a separate:

  • flight test report
  • instrument proficiency check notification.

A regular OPC would not satisfy the ATPL flight test standards.


Online version available at: https://www.casa.gov.au//licences-and-certificates/pilots/pilot-licences/air-transport-pilot-licences/flight-test-air-transport-pilot-licence
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