# Stupid PPL exam questions

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A friend of mine recently brought to my attention how STUPID some PPL exam questions in Spain are. I don't know how it is in other countries, but these questions make the sweet ******* child cry:

I'm going to translate them from Spanish to English literally (or as literally as I can).

The stall is the moment at which:

a) We stop having lift

b ) The boundary layer separates

c) We have reached the critical speed

None of these options are correct. The "most correct" one would be "b", but not quite, since the boundary layer is ALWAYS separated at some point on the wing. Also, there are wings that exhibit a "recirculation buble", which means that a large portion of the wing has a separated boundary layer, yet the wing is not stalled.

The proper definition of a stall is the following: The stall is the moment at which a further increase in angle of attack DOES NOT result in further increase of the lift coefficient CL. In mathematical words, the stall happens at that AOA at which the first local maximum of the curve CL(AOA) takes place.

When does a propeller have more thrust?

a) On the ground

b ) Before taking-off

c) At cruising speed

Very tricky question. First of all, grammatically incorrect: A propeller does not "have" thrust, it "generates thrust". However, talking about "thrust" and "propellers" does not go well. Thrust is a term normally used in conjunction with turbojet/turbofan engines. Power is the term that's used with piston/turboprop engines (engines with propellers). And while it's of course true that a propeller ultimately generates thrust, thrust is not an appropriate indicator of the propeller's performance.

The equation that relates power (P) and thrust (T) is: P = T · V, where V is the aircraft's velocity (true airspeed). On a propeller engine, power is given and then thrust depends on the airspeed V. Power depends on engine parameters such as RPM and mixture, we can say that at a rich mixture and open throttle, (full RPM), power is constant. So the power of the propeller at the start of the take-off run is the same as the one at rotation. Thrust however is not.

Also, the options are logically incorrect: Option b ) implies option a), before taking-off, how do you mean that? Just before rotation? Before starting the take-off run?

What affects bank angle?

a) Weight

b ) Load factor

c) Speed

d) Wind

Again, horribly formulated question. What affects bank angle UNDER WHICH CONDITIONS? Bank angle for a constant radius turn? Maximum bank angle? Bank angle for a given trajectory over the ground? If you don't apply restrictions to the flight condition, bank angle is a free variable, independent from the rest.

You could relate bank angle to all 4 options depending on the desired condition of the flight.

Which of the following statements regarding spins is correct?

a) It can not be recovered

b ) It can be recovered

c) It can be recovered and it's due to the fact that one plane is stalled and the other one is not

d) None of the above

I would say d).

Options a) and b ) are not universally correct. You can't state something like "a spin can always be recovered from" or "can never be recovered from", it depends on the aircraft, the type of spin etc.

Option c) can't be correct, because if it were, it would logically conflict with option b ), BOTH would have to be correct at the same time.

Also it's not true that one wing MUST NOT be stalled. It's true that in a spin AT LEAST one wing is stalled, but not necessarily both. What is true however, is that one wing generates more lift than the other.

BTW1: Limit to the number of emoticons? Yeah, found out using no space at the "b )".

BTW2: The name "Jesús" is censored? Come on! it's a common name in many countries!

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So, given that they are stupid questions - which answer is correct for the authority? Which one do they WANT regardless of the stupidity? Learn to pass the test, THEN learn to FLY perhaps? Aviation is somewhat more restrictive, and rightly so, but here in the UK for passing your driving test for example. There is an adage which says "Learn to pass the Test, then learn to DRIVE".

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Which one do they WANT regardless of the stupidity? Learn to pass the test, THEN learn to FLY perhaps?

I couldn't agree more.

The problem with these questions is, I honestly don't know which answer they WANT to hear... I'm not able of "lowering my mind" enough to the level of the examiners, so to speak.

And yes, Driving tests and exams are a complete joke. A fraudulent and corrupt system at best.

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Back in 2006-7 when I earned my PPL, I was not impressed at all with the ground school training software that was part of the kit.  The Jeppesen book was so, so much better.  And yea, some of the questions on the test were bad...  From that, and other PPL holders I spoke with, I got the impression that the average PPL holder only has a slight grasp on the physics, technical/mechanical aspects of flight...  I was quite dissapointed by that.

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Back in 2006-7 when I earned my PPL, I was not impressed at all with the ground school training software that was part of the kit.  The Jeppesen book was so, so much better.  And yea, some of the questions on the test were bad...  From that, and other PPL holders I spoke with, I got the impression that the average PPL holder only has a slight grasp on the physics, technical/mechanical aspects of flight...  I was quite dissapointed by that.

Explains so many accidents, specially here in Europe with ULM.... Preparation, on basic aerodynamics, is so so poor....

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Explains so many accidents, specially here in Europe with ULM.... Preparation, on basic aerodynamics, is so so poor....

ULM?

Also should have stated I got my PPL in the U.S.

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ULM?

It's Spanish (probably Portuguese also) for ultralight airplane (VLA in English, I believe)

But if as you say the standard for a PPL pilot is low, for a VLA pilot it's even lower... I was told of a case in which a VLA pilot didn't know about the difference between TAS and IAS. He'd say: "Wow, I've noticed that when you climb higher, there's ALWAYS a tail-wind, you see, I fly at a constant 100 km/h on the indicator, but the GPS shows a higher speed!" haha

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Regarding boundary layer separation being independet from a stall conditions, this is why:

At point c) on the graph, the boundary layer on top of the airfoil is completely separated, yet the airfoil is NOT stalled.

I don't think however that a PPL exam considers these effects, that's why I "think" that the option they are looking for is "Boundary layer separation", but I honestly don't know... Maybe if by "critical speed" they mean the speed at which stall occurs taking all other variables into account, then that would be the correct answer...

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Spain is a member of EASA, the PPL and ATPL exams all come from a standard database formerly called JAA. I don't understand how their question bank can be different to other EASA member states. I did my PPL and ATPL exams in Ireland under the IAA and our questions where not as poor a standard as the examples given above and I don't believe the CAA exams in England are as poor either.

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I don't understand how their question bank can be different to other EASA member states.

I think it's a clear case of "lost in translation" haha

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Jaime, I am trying to find some way of linking here a very interesting monography by a friend of mine, on the "Principles of Aerodynamic Lift".

It is not directly related to the OP, but it would be very interesting to read since we're talking about this often misinterpreted phenomenon...

I believe it only has a Portuguese version of the text, but should there be an English one, I'll certainly post it here if he so allows me to, or, even better, if he get's into the AVSIM forums and posts it himself :-)

Another very interesting thread Jaime started by you!

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Thanks a lot José! And I will be awaiting that monograph from that friend of yours!

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These are hard questions....   I'll only tackle the first one.

The stall is the moment at which:
a) We stop having lift
b ) The boundary layer separates
c) We have reached the critical speed

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These are hard questions....   I'll only tackle the first one.

hahaha, good one! made me laugh!

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A friend of mine recently brought to my attention how STUPID some PPL exam questions in Spain are.

I passed my PPL test back in 1995 in Germany. There were some difficult questions, but they all had (strict!) logical results.

It is a long time ago (21 years) so that I do not remember anymore if the test was multiple choice with several right answers...

Is it possible that also the Spanish test has not only one right answer?

My flight instructor's mother tongue was Spanish and I personally have the impression that the Spanish culture, administration and language is very logical.

Reading this contradictive or "mean" multiple choice answers is quite astonishing for me...

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Is it possible that also the Spanish test has not only one right answer?

I think these questions are all single answer, not multiple choice.

To be fair towards the "administration", I can't guarantee 100% that these are the actual exam question. They might have been leaked out of the exam by examinees and so on, hence the poor wording. But still...

And yes, the Spanish language can be very logical and precise. Whether the Spanish culture and/or administration are logical, hehehe, that would be the subject of another debate

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And yes, the Spanish language can be very logical and precise. Whether the Spanish culture and/or administration are logical, hehehe, that would be the subject of another debate

Simply replace "Spanish" for "Portuguese" in the above sentence, and you'll get my opinion :-)

For some reason my aerodrome is filled with "D-" gliders and tug aircraft. Not a single "CS-"....

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For some reason my aerodrome is filled with "D-" gliders and tug aircraft

Same thing happens in Spain, or LEOC where I had the chance to glide

First day I said "Oh my! So many Germans flying in here", people laughed to my comment, haha.

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Try some of the engineering exams, ppl childs play by comparison.

Uk caa Multi choice 4 answers,1 obviously wrong and the other 3 correct to varying degrees only 1 totally correct.

For what its worth my thoughts regarding the answers are 1a 2b 3c 4c

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Uk caa Multi choice 4 answers,1 obviously wrong and the other 3 correct to varying degrees only 1 totally correct.

Oh boy, I would have a heart attack in the middle of the exam, hahaha.

In my binary mind, an option is either correct or incorrect. "correct to varying degrees" will cause me a stoke, haha

For what its worth my thoughts regarding the answers are 1a 2b 3c 4c

I won't argue with the rest, but I can tell you that 1a is not correct. When the aircraft is stalled, lift is not exactly ZERO, which I believe is what the option implies when saying "stop having lift".

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1 - B

2 - A

3 - D

4 - D

The key is to not overthink.

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The key is to not overthink.

Yeah, but you see that none of your answers matches the ones from Pete, right?

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Yeah, but you see that none of your answers matches the ones from Pete, right?

Sure... but... first, mine spell b a d d... always a good start... second:

1b - The beginning of a stall always has this.

2a - Thickest air density it's going to operate in. It generates thrust by moving through air mass and the air's density will affect it's efficiency.

3d - The only variable that impacts what angle you will need to use for a turn to get where you intend to go. Weight isn't a factor, at all. Load factor is a result, not an input. Speed is an input, but it dictates basic bank angle. Wind will override it either requiring greater or less as you go through the turn.

4d - Seriously, any of the first three are possible, but they're aircraft specific... not generic enough.

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3d - The only variable that impacts what angle you will need to use for a turn to get where you intend to go. Weight isn't a factor, at all. Load factor is a result, not an input. Speed is an input, but it dictates basic bank angle. Wind will override it either requiring greater or less as you go through the turn..

You're overthinking it. The correct answer they're looking for is C. You can argue all you want to the scantron machine with your esoteric justifications, but you'll still be marked wrong. Cooperate, and graduate.

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The correct answer they're looking for is C

But why? Speed and bank angle are, in principle, independent. They only become dependent on each other once you apply conditions (like keep a constant turn radius), which the question does not.

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