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PPL Navigation Exam

Updated: May 11

Aspiring private pilots in the United Kingdom must pass the UK PPL Navigation Exam to advance in their training. This exam assesses a candidate's proficiency in navigation, aspects of flight planning,navigation aids, practical navigation and related topics. Successful candidates must show a comprehensive grasp of the material and the ability to apply it in practical scenarios.

The theoretical knowledge exam is a multiple-choice test that covers navigation principles and a wide range of navigational subjects. The exam is computer based and is usually taken at the candidate’s local flying school, though any Declared Training Organisation (DTO) or Approved Training Organisation can provide the exam. Though there is no particular point at which the exam must be taken, it is suggested that it is taken around the same time that the student performs their dual or solo cross-country flight.

Preparing for the exam.

To prepare for the UK PPL Navigation Exam, candidates are encouraged to study thoroughly with up-to-date study material and practice navigational concepts in their flight training, particularly when flying solo. Our online theory course will ensure you are well prepared for the exam.

Piper Arrow cockpit with VOR, NDB and GNSS
A solid understanding of VOR, NDB and GNSS is required

Subjects on the test include understanding the use of navigation instruments, such as the magnetic compass, VOR, ADF, as well as the use of navigation charts and aeronautical information. Some aspects of flight planning form part of the navigation training, though other aspects are found in the Flight Performance and Planning exam (such as fuel planning, weight and balance calculations, and performance calculations). There is some degree of overlap between both exams.

One key aspect of the exam is understanding the use of navigation instruments. Candidates should be familiar with the different types of navigation instruments and be able to identify and interpret navigation information, such as latitude and longitude and aeronautical charts. It is also important to understand the difference between true and magnetic north and the principles of the triangle of velocities; this will be tested on the exam.

In addition to studying the material, it is important to practice navigation and flight planning skills. This can be done by using flight simulators, or by going on supervised navigation flights with an instructor. It is also recommended to practice with flight planning software such as SkyDemon or Runway HD, as this is a simple way to see how calculations are made and what flight plans look like on paper. However, it should be noted that this software cannot be used in the exam and the candidate will be expected to solve any calculations mathematically or with a flight computer.

Another important aspect of the exam is time management. Many candidates struggle with time management during the exam, resulting in poor performance. Although there are only 12 questions in the exam, the candidate is only given 45 minutes. This doesn’t leave much time to check your answers, especially if you have had to make calculations. To overcome this, it is important to practice working under time pressure, so that you can complete the exam tasks within the given time.

How is the PPL Navigation exam structured?

The candidate must answer 12 questions in 45 minutes. At least nine questions must be answered correctly to pass the exam (pass mark 75%).

What type of questions are asked?

Here are some example questions to give you an idea of the standard required for the PPL navigation exam.

1. Determine the ground speed given:

Wind: 270/20

TAS: 100kts

Course: 030°

  1. 88kts

  2. 95kts

  3. 108kts

  4. 105kts

2. An aircraft has 76 litres of fuel on board. During cruising flight, the fuel burn is 3USG/hr. What is the aircraft's cruise endurance (not counting one hour's reserve fuel)?

  1. Five hours and 41 minutes

  2. Three hours and 25 minutes

  3. Three hours and 57 minutes

  4. Five hours and three minutes

3. If the sun moves 20° of longitude across the sky, how much time has passed?

  1. 40 minutes

  2. 57 minutes

  3. One hour

  4. One hour and 20 minutes

(Correct answers: 1: c, 2: a, 3: d)

Other question subjects likely to appear on the PPL Navigation Exam:

  • 1-in-60 calculations

  • Interpreting NDB indications

  • QDM,QDR and QTE

  • Conventional signs on aeronautical charts

  • Direct Mercator and Lambert Conformal Conic Projections

  • Variation and Deviation Calculations

  • TVMDC calculations

  • Converting distances between one unit to another

  • Great Circles, Rhumb lines

  • Dead Reckoning techniques

  • Principles of GNSS

  • Wave propagation theory (Radio Navigation)

  • Primary and Secondary Radar

QuizAero offers a large database of highly realistic CAA style Navigation questions. Click here to purchase.

If you fail the PPL Navigation Exam.

Hopefully you will have plenty of practice and this won't be the case, but in the unlikely event that you fail the exam, you will be given a Knowledge Deficiency Report. This report provides the syllabus reference numbers for each question which you answered incorrectly. Rather than stating the questions explicitly, which would inadvertently release the exam questions to the public, you are expected to look up the references on the official CAA list of learning objectives. This is simulated in our practice exams, though you can also view the questions you answered incorrectly along with the correct answers. We also provide a free tool for searching syllabus references and quickly finding the associated learning objective.

CAA Navigation Syllabus.

The official navigation syllabus is available by clicking the link below.

Navigation Learning Objectives (Aeroplane and Helicopter)
Download PDF • 649KB

Which equipment can you take into the PPL Navigation Exam?

You can take standard navigational equipment into the exam such as:

  • Flight Computer (known as the “Whizz Wheel”)or

  • Electronic flight computer

  • Scale ruler

  • Protractor

  • Compass and dividers

  • Calculator

  • Chinagraph pencil or marker pens

You cannot take tablets or mobile phones and navigation software is not permitted.

Advice for the PPL Navigation Exam.

Here are some tips for preparing for and taking the UK PPL Navigation Exam:

Study the material thoroughly.

Make sure you have a solid understanding of the various topics covered in the exam, including navigation principles, meteorology, flight planning, and air law. Our highly acclaimed online ground school is completely up-to-date and reflects the knowledge requirements for the latest CAA questions. We will get you through the exam first time and make sure you enjoy your studies. See Bitesize in action using the video below and click here to learn more.

Practice with flight planning software.

Many flight schools will recommend you with flight planning software. Use this to practice planning flights and get a feel for the process.

Use flashcards and mnemonics.

These can be helpful for memorising important information and concepts.

Student pilot taking practice exams
Take lots of practice exams

Take lots of practice exams.

Practice makes perfect after all. Well designed practice exams not only give you a realistic depiction of what to expect in the exam, but also challenge your knowledge and highlight your deficiencies. It is best to find out your weaknesses before you take the exam to ensure you have a solid foundation when the day comes. Our practice exams are written by a CAA flight examiner and will let you know plainly whether you are ready to take the exam. They work on any device too so you can study on-the-go. Take a look here for more information.

Get practical experience.

Make sure you have enough flight time, including solo flight time, to have experienced some real in-flight navigation. This will help you develop the skills and confidence you need to pass the exam.

Stay current.

Keep up to date with the latest laws and regulations related to flight, as well as any changes to the exam format. The exams are always up-to-date but many sources of information are not. Our online ground school is 100% up-to-date.

Get additional help if needed.

If you're having trouble with certain topics, consider seeking additional help from your instructor or a tutor. You can always talk to us too. We offer all users the ability to discuss any topic with an examiner.

Remember that the more you practice and prepare, the more confident you'll feel going into the exam. Make sure you have a good understanding of the material and the ability to apply it to real-world situations.

Final word.

The UK PPL Navigation Exam is often dreaded because it is seen as complex and confusing, but it is a vital hurdle for aspiring private pilots in the United Kingdom. To be successful, test-takers must exhibit a comprehensive knowledge of navigation, meteorology, flight planning, and other relevant subjects. Preparing for the exam involves plenty of studying, regular practice, and focusing on key areas such as time management, understanding navigation instruments, distinguishing between true and magnetic north, and flight planning. Familiarising oneself with meteorology and weather forecasting, as well as mastering all aspects of flying, including takeoff, navigation, landing, and emergency procedures are also crucial. With the proper preparation and the right preparation and mindset, candidates can successfully pass the UK PPL Navigation Exam and take the next step in their aviation career.

Study for the Navigation Exam with QuizAero. Click here to view our highly acclaimed products.


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3 commentaires

Membre inconnu
08 janv.

I got the T.O.V question as 110kts, so the closest answer would be 108kts.


Membre inconnu
21 janv. 2023

Great article on navigation - many thanks. Could you please check the answer key to the four example questions - I believe the correct answer to the Triangle of Velocities question is 108 kts, and should be coded as 1c, not 1a.

Membre inconnu
21 janv. 2023
En réponse à

Hello Liam Yes you are correct answer to question 1 is C, not A. Thanks for pointing that out.

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