Navigation Exam | Private Pilot Written Exam

Navigation Exam – Aviation Exams

For most pilots, flying around is a fun and exciting thing to do. When you are at the beginning of your PPL flight training, there is very little to compare with the feeling you get of mastering the aircraft, making it do what you want and getting the feeling of freedom in the air. Before you know it, your doing circuits and with more practice you find your landings are being completed with a little more contra and grace, greasing it as we say.

Once you have managed to do your first solo and then your first cross country, there immediately appears to be far more than just flying local and around your local airfield. After all their is one of the biggest reasons we become pilots.

To fly beyond your local airfield though, you will need more thank just basic flying skills. You will need to be able to navigate visually along your planned route and be able to fix your position by reference to the map. Today with the aid of radio navigation, global communications and best of all GPS, most PPL student pilots wonder whether learning map reading and understanding compass headings and using a stopwatch is necessary or interesting – but it is a wholly necessary skill.

To make the most of today’s moving map displays from some of the high end GPS units, you must understand the map symbols, heading and track etc. What use is it knowing your off track if you cannot use this information to alter your heading to reach your destination.

The Navigation exam is the longest of all exams, bar the radio telephony exam. The PPL navigation exam consist of a multiple choice exam paper with a number of general navigation questions, but the majority of the paper is concerned with undergoing a flight planing exercise whereby you are given a flight scenario which you must use an aeronautical map as reference. During the VFR flight you will be presented with scenarios along the way, such as a diversion to an alternative airfield, avoiding a MATZ or CTZ.

You will need to be confident with your flight planning knowledge, triangle of velocities, map reading, map symbols, time and distance etc.>/p>

Some of the topics that you will learn about in your PPL navigation exam ground school training are:


The Earth

  • Latitude & Longitude
  • Axis & Poles
  • Direction & Distance

Aeronautical Maps

  • Different forms of map projection
  • Locating points on an aeronautical map
  • Measurement of direction
  • Scales and distance
  • Converting units of distance
  • Depiction of point of interest
  • Depiction of airfields and other aeronautical information
  • The map checklist

Navigation principles

  • The triangle of velocities
  • Using a flight computer

Vertical Navigation

  • Obstructions
  • Calculation of minimum safety altitude
  • Altimeter settings
  • Checking the altimeter
  • Vertical navigation calculations

Aircraft Magnetism

  • Your aircraft’s magnetic field
  • Compass deviation
  • Use of the compass

Practical Navigation

  • Dead reckoning
  • Map reading principles
  • Practical visual navigation
  • Departure procedures
  • En-route procedures
  • Turning-point procedures
  • Arrival procedures
  • Off track calculations
  • 1 in 60 rule
  • Track markings
  • Diversion procedures & reasons for diverting
  • Diverting around weather or a hazard
  • Diverting to an airfield or landmark
  • Lost procedures – why pilots get lost
  • Uncertain of position procedures
  • Lost procedure
  • And if all else fails

Special Navigational Situations

  • Navigation at minimum level
  • Navigation over featureless terrain
  • Transits

Flight Planning & Performance

  • How not to run out of fuel
  • Fuel planning
  • Fuel volume conversions
  • Specific gravity calculation
  • Mass & balance
  • Take-off & landing performance
  • Crosswind component

AIS (Aeronautical Information Service)

  • What it is
  • Aeronautical Information Circulars (AIC’s)
  • The Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP)
  • Pre-flight information bulletins
  • Obtaining AIS Information

The Flight Plan

  • When you need to file a full flight plan
  • The full flight plan form
  • Filing the full flight plan


  • UTC and Local Time
  • Sunrise and Sunset

To test your knowledge of the navigational exam, try a sample exam paper from PPL Exam Pro below:

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