Getting a Canadian pilot’s licence [Part 3: The tests]

Welcome to my series on becoming a licenced Canadian pilot. The information below and in previous posts refers to the Private Pilot Licence training as this is the one I am most familiar with.
Check out the whole series:

In this post I discuss the tests you are expected to write and pass before getting your licence. Some of them will need to be written and passed before going solo (PSTAR and Radio).


Also called the Pre-Solo Test of Air Regulation by some people, it is a 50 question test, all multiple choice dealing with, as you may have guessed, air regulations. This includes collision avoidance, communication, aeromedical questions and more. A sample question reads:

Two aircraft are on approach to land, the aircraft at the higher altitude shall

  1. have the right of way.
  2. overtake the lower aircraft on the left.
  3. give way.
  4. complete a 360° turn to the right.

To prepare for the PSTAR, I recommend Robyn’s Improved PSTAR Study Guide. There you can find all the questions you can expect with answers and explanations. Also check out Transport Canada’s TP 11919 – Student Pilot Permit or Private Pilot Licence for Foreign and Military Applicants, Aviation Regulations (leave it to a government corporation to name it something confusing like that).


It may have an official name but I am not aware of it and really, it is not that important.
The radio test examines your ability to communicate. It tests your knowledge of standard and emergency procedures as well as (recently) your English proficiency (though this is a separate, oral test). The licence is a Restricted Operator Certificate With Aeronautical Qualification and is issued by Industry Canada. They also have a study guide available for this certificate, RIC 21. Here is a sample question from the test:

When making initial contact with a Canadian ATC unit, the pilot of aircraft C-FBSQ should transmit the registration as

  1. FBSQ.
  2. Fox, Baker, Sugar, Queen. **</p>
  • Foxtrot, Bravo, Sierra, Quebec. </strong>

  • Bravo, Sierra, Quebec.</ol> </blockquote>

The problem I noticed many people in my class were having was learning the NATO phonetic alphabet and then, once in the airplane, actually using it along with the proper radio procedures.

From In the sky and around CYHM


PPL Written Test

Called the Written Examination for the Private Pilot Licence Aeroplane, this test is half the battle for the PPL. It is made up of 100 multiple choice questions divided among four sections:

  • Airlaw
  • Navigation
  • Meteorology
  • General Aeronautics

To pass the test you must achieve at least 60% over all as well as in each section (so you can’t get 90% on Airlaw and totally blow Meteorology). Don’t worry though, you will be well prepared for this test. To be able to write it you need a letter of recommendation from your instructor and you will not receive that until you successfully complete (i.e. get more than 80%) on the school’s practice exams. You also need at least 10 hours of flight experience so that you get a chance to see exactly how things work.

From In the sky and around CYHM

Once you’ve passed all these tests, all you have to do is finish your flying hours. Let’s get flying!