In order to gain a place at Oxford Aviation Academy I had to take part in a two day assessment to determine my suitability for the course and a life as an airline pilot. Here is a account of my two days;
Tuesday 6th August 2013
The day started at 8.30am at Oxford Aviation Academy’s home at Oxford Airport in Kidlington. After a quick registration I met the other four candidates who were also applying for a place on the course. We were all lead upstairs and given a brief talk about OAA and the Skills Assessment process. The talk was very informal and made us all feel much more relaxed about the daunting two days ahead.
My first task was the C.O.M.P.A.S.S test, the section I had been most worried about. The test is all computer based and tests a basic understanding of maths, physics and aptitude. The first section of this test is aptitude, which is split into five tests;
In this test you have to keep the plane within a given boundary using a joystick for 90 seconds. This test is repeated 3 times.
This tests hand-eye-foot coordination. We had to keep the dial on ‘0’ using a joystick whilst keeping the ball between the two white lines using rudder pedals.
In this test we were given 3 aircraft instruments, giving you the aircraft’s altitude and position in physical space. You then, using this information, had to say which of the four aircraft bellow matched the instruments.
In this test we were given four pieces of information for a flight; Altitude (36,500), Heading (055), Speed (320) and Radio Frequency (122.55). The information was displayed for 10 seconds, after that time it disappeared and we had to recall as much information as we could. This test was repeated with different information for two minutes.
During this test we were constantly receiving information about the aircraft’s Altitude, Heading and Speed which we had to input into the primary flight display using the arrow keys and numeric keypad. At the same time warming lights would appear on the screen that we would have to extinguish within seconds.
Following this section was the maths test, 24 questions in 20 minutes all approximate to G.C.S.E standard. this was then followed by the technical test, which is made up of Maths, general science and mechanics questions. The technical test consisted of 15 questions. The C.O.M.P.A.S.S test concludes with a psychometric profiling, 250 questions which are meant to give an indication of your personality.
After a short lunch we moved on the second section of the day, the simulator test. In the this section we had to fly a simple 45 minute flight in Oxford’s CRJ-200 simulator. This test took in all of the basics of flight control with some fun thrown in at the end – I actually got to perform a barrel roll!
The first day concluded with a quick talk on course financing if we were to be accepted…. Fun!
Wednesday 7th August 2013
The second day started a little later as some of the group had an early interview slot – mine was scheduled for after lunch, the last one of the day!
My first activity was the team building exercises. In the first one we were given a map and were told we were stranded and had to find our way to a rendezvous point within a set amount of time. Each member of the group were given two cards each with clues as to how we would achieve this goal. In the second exercise we were given a box full of wooden blocks and rods and had to build a bridge that would support a glass of water. We finished both exercises and felt very confident leaving the room.
After lunch I had my interview with two people from British Airways. I must admit this was the hardest part for the day for me. I felt like I was on an episode of The Apprentice, being questioned about why I want to become a pilot, what I have done to help me prepare for the training and why i had left it until i was 27 to apply.
After the gruelling interview I waited for my debrief, which was the longest hour of my life! During the debrief I was told I had performed really well in all areas, including getting full marks on the team building exercises. Unfortunately I was one mark short of a pass on the technical test and was asked to come back after a few week for a resit.
It was disappointing to have come so far to fall at one hurdle, however in hindsight I think it was a good think. Ground School is such an intense part of the training process it is important to have the correct level of knowledge before starting at OAA.
1st October 2013
After a few weeks of revising I went back to Oxford to resit the technical test. The test was incredibly short (only 10 minutes) and felt much more familiar than the previous test. This was followed by a debrief.
As soon as I walked into the room for my debrief i was told I had been successful and officially offered a place on the course. It was such a relief to know all of the hard work had paid off!
After the debrief I met with one of the airline managers at Oxford who took my through the course structure and made a provisional booking to start in January.
The next step on my road to an ATPL is to get my Class 1 Medical and arrange the course finance before I start…. still a long way to go!