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Re-training periods and exam windows
A failed exam attempt indicates the candidate has a significant knowledge deficiency on the subject tested. This is a safety-related issue, which must be addressed by the candidate prior to re-attempting the failed exam.
Exam failures, especially repetitive failures on the same subject, would generally be a consequence of inadequate re-training or/and the candidate’s personal difficulties in attaining the required standards.
Apart from good instruction, dealing with exam failures requires satisfactory allocation of re-training time to ensure the candidate has a reasonable chance of reaching the required standards, and passing the CASA exam. CASA sets a mandatory re-training period to allow the candidate to re-study on the knowledge-deficient areas to a satisfactory (safe) standard.
Preparation for exam
The importance of allocating a reasonable period of re-training time cannot be over-emphasized as the most common cause of exam failures is inadequate preparation. The length of time required by the candidate depends on the extent of the knowledge deficiency and personal ability to attain the required standard.
The CASA mandatory re-training period is only the 'minimum' that a candidate is required to observe before re-attempting the exam. The candidate is advised to consult the instructor on whether the 'minimum' period is adequate for his/her personal case. The likelihood of further failure cannot be discounted if the candidate elects to re-sit the examination without adequate and satisfactory re-training.
There is no excuse for ill-prepared haste to sit a CASA flight crew exam as the availability of PEXO exams sessions supports schools and students with flexibility in planning the training program and preparing thoroughly for exam attempts or re-attempts.
The possibility of exam failures and the associated mandatory re-training periods is an important but often neglected consideration for planning that the candidate should take into account. This has particular importance for the following candidates:
- Those who are sitting for the aeroplane and helicopter CPL and ATPL exam, each of which have multi subject-parts. All passed subject-parts must be passed within a prescribed period of time, referred to as a ‘window’.
- Candidates from overseas who are here in Australia on a time-limited visa, whether they are training for their CPL, ATPL and ratings, or those who are in Australia for conversion of their overseas licence.
- Candidates who have travel plans in the immediate future.
The onus is on the candidate to plan and manage his/her personal and exam activities, which should include the possibility of an unsuccessful exam attempt, which carries a re-training period.
The re-training periods for all pilot theory exams are as follows:
|1st fail of a specific subject examination||2nd fail of that same subject examination||3rd fail of that same subject examination||4th and subsequent fails of that subject examination|
|No MINIMUM re-training period specified.||No MINIMUM re-training period specified.||A MINIMUM re-training period of 3 months applies. No exceptions.||Applicant must satisfy CASA that they have completed appropriate training. (Note)|
Note: In order to satisfy CASA that a candidate has completed appropriate training, the candidate will need to send CASA proof of completing training from:
- A theory provider; or
- the CFI of the flying school at which they completed the remedial training for a Private pilot theory exam
Candidates should realise that a failure in a subject is still counted as a failure, regardless of how long ago it occurred, and will be used for the determination of re-training periods.
Any re-training provided should be by a person or organisation competent to do so with that particular subject. There are no specific rules for what constitutes appropriate re-training as what remedial training a candidate will require may vary markedly from individual to individual. We trust that theory providers conducting remedial training will have a responsible approach, knowing that you have already failed this particular subject on multiple occasions, prior to signing any letter saying that a candidate has completed the required training with them.
As a minimum, CASA would expect the theory provider to go through:
- each of the KDR items mentioned on all of their KDRs for that subject; and
- verify that the individual has an adequate understanding of other key elements within that particular subject, particularly those which are safety related.
In most cases, this would not require the candidate to re-sit a complete classroom course as though they had never studied for that subject. As CASA only requires evidence of a candidate having completed remedial training after they have failed that particular subject four or more times, it would be reasonable that such training would take more than just one or two hours.
Re-training after five (5) or more fails
There have been some instances, where candidates have failed a subject five or more times. Repeated failures of the same subject, demonstrates a lack of application by the candidate and/or their theory provider to ensure the candidate has the required aeronautical knowledge for that particular subject.
CASR Part 61.225(4) states:
If on 4 occasions a person attempts, but fails to pass, an aeronautical knowledge examination, or a part of an examination, the person is not permitted to attempt the examination or part again until CASA is satisfied that the person has completed appropriate training.
Candidates who fail the same subject, five or more times, are required to provide CASA (email@example.com) with a detailed report, signed by their theory provider, showing:
- What training they have undertaken since their last exam attempt of that subject; and
- How their theory provider addressed each of their knowledge deficiencies in that subject.
Without a detailed report of what re-training has been completed, and CASA considers that re-training appropriate, candidates will not be authorised to re-book that particular subject.
Evidence from a theory provider or CFI
Once a candidate has completed the remedial training, then they should request a letter from the theory provider which includes:
- the name and ARN of the candidate;
- the subject name (or exam code, e.g. PPLA, CNAV, IREX etc.) for which the training was provided;
- a statement or description about the training that they have received, i.e. what training did they complete, practice exams, private tuition, review of their KDR items, etc.; and
- the name of the person/organisation who conducted the training and their contact details.
Such letter should then be forwarded to Flight Crew Licensing, (this can be by post, email to FCL.firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax 02 6217 1450) to enable FCL staff to ‘unlock’ that subject for one additional attempt of that subject for the candidate concerned.
NOTE: Candidates should realise that this procedure must be repeated for each subsequent failure (from the fourth failure onwards) of that same subject-part examination.
Multi-subject part exams - ‘Window’ definition
An examination, consisting of a number of subject-parts, is referred to as an exam ‘bundle’. All subject-parts within the bundle must be passed within a prescribed period of time, referred to as a ‘window’ in order to gain a theory credit for a particular licence. The three main ‘bundles’ that must be passed within a ‘window’ are:
- the seven subject-parts for the awarding of either a CPL or an ATPL theory credit;
- a bundle of subject-parts when converting from an aeroplane to a helicopter category, or vice versa; and
- a bundle of subject-parts for pilots converting a foreign licence to an Australian licence.
CASR Part 61.225 (2) requires that a person passes all parts of an examination within a period of 2 years.
Candidates commencing a ‘bundle’ of subject-parts on or after 1st September 2014 should plan their studies and exams so that all subject-parts are completed within two years of their first pass. If at the end of two years, a candidate has not passed all subjects within their bundle, then the status of individual subject passes will progressively change to expired on the second anniversary of the pass date of that subject and must be passed again.
Once a full theory credit has been awarded for a completed ‘bundle’ of subject-parts completed within a window, then that credit is perpetual. Candidates should take particular care checking the dates of exams when applying for a licence or rating to ensure that all subject-parts required have been passed within one ‘window’ which is:
- 3 years for those who passed one or more of their CPL or ATPL exams prior to the introduction of Part 61; and
- 2 years for those who passed their first CPL or ATPL exam after the introduction of Part 61.