Aviation theory

To some people, aviation theory comes easily. For others it can be a real effort, a bit like learning a new language. Some people find topics such as aerodynamics a real challenge while others seem to have been born speaking that language. Whatever your educational background or learning style, your WardAir instructors will find a way to help you through the required theory to gain the licence or rating that you desire. Here are some of the theory exams that you may encounter along the way to becoming a licenced pilot:

Radio Operator’s Exam – a short exam set by WardAir under CASA’s authority which tests your knowledge of radio communication equipment, phraseology and regulations. Essentially, you need to demonstrate that you can communicate clearly and correctly in order to pilot an aircraft safely.

Pre-Solo Air Law Exam – before being released to do your first solo circuit in your flying career, you need to have passed this short exam which will test your knowledge of the aerodrome signs, markings and emergency procedures, the airport environment, the circuit pattern, the rules of the air and basic operations of your aircraft. You wouldn’t want to go solo without knowing these things! This exam is also set and conducted by WardAir under CASA’s authority.

Pre-Area Solo Exam – similar to the Pre-Solo Air Law Exam, this exam will test additional knowledge that you should possess in order to act as pilot in command of your aircraft within 10nm of the airport, in other words, in the training area. You need to be able to find your way to the training area and back, separating yourself from traffic along the way, making necessary radio calls and flying at the correct altitude and along correct routes. Your knowledge of these procedures and regulations will be tested in this short exam which is also set and conducted by WardAir under CASA’s authority.

Basic Aeronautic Knowledge (BAK) Exam – this is a larger exam and is the minimum theory requirement for gaining your Recreational Pilot Licence. This exam is also set and conducted by WardAir under CASA’s authority and tests knowledge on the following topics:

  • Air Law
  • Aerodynamics
  • Aeroplane General Knowledge (engines, systems, instruments)
  • Aircraft Loading and Performance
  • Human Factors

Private Pilot Licence (PPL) Theory Exam – prior to sitting your PPL flight test, you need to have passed the PPL theory exam which covers all of the knowledge areas of the BAK but in greater depth, plus the following two new topics:

  • Meteorology
  • Navigation

This cyber-exam is set by CASA and can be sat at WardAir or at an approved CASA testing centre.

Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) Theory Exams – before sitting your commercial flight test you must have gained passes in all 7 of the CPL theory exams which must be sat at a CASA testing centre. The subjects are the same as for the BAK and PPL but the depth of knowledge required is much greater and there is a separate, full length examination for each topic.

Instrument Theory – if you are interested in an instrument rating (Private Instrument Flight Rules – PIFR or a Single or Multi Engine Command Instrument Rating – SECIR or MECIR) you will need to do some more theory study on the particular rules governing instrument flight. The PIFR exam can be sat at WardAir but the Command Instrument Rating Exam (IREX) must be sat at an approved CASA examination centre.

Courses – Everybody learns at a different pace and in different ways. Some students like to prepare for these exams by self-study supplemented with private tuition where needed; others prefer group learning and structured courses. At WardAir we can help prepare you for any of the above exams and we will tailor tuition to your needs, giving you as much or as little help along the way as you require. From time to time we offer weekend or evening courses on different topics and we can easily arrange small group tuition or courses for you and your friends, as and when needed.

Check our FaceBook page for forthcoming courses or call us for more information:

02 6337 3400 / info@wardair.com.au

A summary of theory exams

Exam Required for:
Radio Operators Exam Before going first solo
Pre-Solo Air Law Exam Before going first solo
Pre-Area Solo Exam Before first solo in the training area
Basic Aeronautical Knowledge (BAK) Exam Before sitting RPL Flight Test
Private Pilot Licence (PPL) Exam Before sitting PPL Flight Test
CPL Exams:

Flight Rules & Air Law

Operation, Performance & Flight Planning



Human Factors Aerodynamics

Aircraft General Knowledge

Before sitting CPL Flight Test
PIFR Theory Exam Before sitting a Private Instrument Rating Flight Test
IREX Before sitting an Instrument Rating Test either single or multi-engine