5 Time saving tips in ATPL Flight Planning

Updated: Jul 18

ATPL Flight Planning is a very time-critical exam. There are a few things you can do to save valuable time. The most important thing is being confident in the exam and knowing what steps to do for every question. If you still find yourself stumbling through exams, keep practicing!

Once you are confident in the material and you can comfortably finish every practice exam, use these tips to speed up!

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1. Stop writing too much

When you first start studying ATPL Flight Planning it is common to write down everything. As you progress through your study you need to ween yourself off filling in every box on the flight plan form. There is a lot of information that doesn't need to be referred to later and some information that is just unnecessary.

Notice in the plan below that the following information is not written.

  • TAS & GS on the climb/descent

  • ISA Deviation on descent

  • Start zone weights (these are the same as previous End Zone weights)

  • Fuel Flows (you should save them to the calculates memory)

  • ETI sometimes (you don't always need it written down, it is something you can calculate quickly if need be)

2. Make better estimates

When it comes to estimating fuels, landing weights, PNR's and BRW's; there are some estimates that need to be more accurate than others.

If you find yourself having to redo cruise legs because of wrong EMZW's your estimates may not be accurate enough. Using 10kg/NM is an easy way to waste 10 minutes redoing cruise data in the exam. I highly recommend downloading the cheat sheet in our earlier post and start using more accurate SAR's. Learning these now will save you time in the exam (when it counts.)

I have listed them below:

LRC 9.2

M0.79 9.5

M0.80 9.5

M0.82 10.0

M0.84 10.3

1-INOP 10.7

DP 12.5

Gear Down 20.0

Tailskid Ext 10.0


3. Get used to your calculator

Find a calculator you like (that’s allowed in the exam) and stick with it! It may not sound like a big deal, but during your study, you will become so automated with your calculator that if you chop and change you won't develop the muscle memory you need.

This cheap calculator from Officeworks is good for the exam

4. Use your calculator for TAS (and stop looking on page 3-106)

If you need to look in your 727 POH at all for a TAS calculation you are wasting precious time in the exam. The fastest and most accurate way is using your calculator. My record is just under 4 seconds, I think most people could achieve that! If you are unsure how to do this, get in touch and I can send through a tutorial video 🙂

5. Highlight relevant information on the ERC's and 727 POH

The 727 POH is filled with a lot of data, with so many pages and so many numbers it’s tough to find the relevant information sometimes. Find a method of highlighting your book that works well for you, I recommend the following:

  • Highlighting 2-14 with red and green highlighters (green for easterly FL’s and red for westerly, think which side your nav lights are- green on the right and red on the left)

  • Highlight in yellow the ISA temperatures on page 3-106 (ISA temps are in the 0 column.)

  • Highlight in yellow FL130 on page —- (this is your depressurised cruise level)

  • Highlight FL280 in red and FL290 on page —- (this is your Yaw Damper INOP data) (ask me about the Mach Number trick!)

  • Don’t forget you can also fold pages for quick access!

  • Similarly, on the ERC’s highlight tracks in your practice exams depending on their direction. If it is a West only track then highlight red. If it is a East only highlight green. If it has no direction, highlight it in yellow.

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