B – Reading comprehension

B – Reading comprehension

Carefully read the short text or document linked to the aviation world (i.e. NOTAM, safety information, meteorological report…). Afterwards, summarize the subject, speak about it in order to show that you have understood the meaning and the content of the document.

My tips:

  • Check your summary/explanation with the full text afterwards.
  • At the test, you have approximately 2 minutes to read and review it.
  • The examiners will invite you to speak about the document you have just read.
  • They may ask you questions if they deem it useful.
  • All documents are in one way or another related to aviation.

Here are examples of documents:

This document is a chart showing what may be described as the normal decrease in safety margin during the course of an average flight.

There are two obvious but significant observations here: accidents are most likely to occur during approaches and landings, and it is the landing phase—at the end of the flight—where the workload and fatigue factor are at their maximum.

We can also see that the taking-off phase is the second phase during which the safety margin decreases.

The level of pilot capabilities reduces gradually during all the duration of the flight.

LGAV 230850Z VRB03KT 9999 FEW030 BKN070 23/16 Q1009 NOSIG

Location is LGAV (Athens in Greece) – Day of month is 23, Time: 08:50 UTC
Wind is variable in direction; speed = 3 knots
Visibility is 10 km or more
Cloud coverage: few (1 to 2 oktas) at 3000 feet above aerodrome level
Cloud coverage: broken (5 to 7 oktas) at 7000 feet above aerodrome level
Temperature is 23 degrees Celsius
Dewpoint is 16 degrees Celsius
QNH (msl pressure).: 1009 hPa
No significant changes for the next 2 hours

This document depicts and explains what you can carry through security as hand luggage for flights departing from Julian Adolph Penget International Airport.

Only limited quantities of liquids may be carried through airport security into the departure lounge. This includes bottled drinks, suntan lotion, fragrances, cosmetics and toiletries. Liquids may only be carried in containers holding 3oz ( that is 100ml) or less. They must be carried separately in a single bag which is transparent. The following exceptions will be made to the 100ml rule: baby food or baby milk, liquid medicine or formula.

The articles presented in the second part of the documents are banned in hand baggage: guns, flammable or explosive materials, sharp objects, tools,…

I do believe that these controls are necessary for the security of the airport and flights, but it takes a lot of time and you have to be at the airport well in advance to make sure you don’t miss the departure.

Here is another example of document for more training:

What is wind shear?

Wind shear refers to a change in wind speed or direction with height in the atmosphere.

Wind shear can also refer to a rapid change in winds over a short horizontal distance experienced by aircraft, conditions that can cause a rapid change in lift, and thus the altitude, of the aircraft.

Some amount of wind shear is always present in the atmosphere, but particularly strong wind shear Wind shear is important for the formation of tornadoes and hail.

Larger values of wind shear also exist near fronts, extra tropical cyclones, and the jet stream.

Wind shear in an atmospheric layer that is clear, but unstable, can result in clear air turbulence.

Interesting facts: To make air travel safer, many airports now have wind shear detection equipment near the ends of runways to warn aircraft if it is too dangerous to land.

Texts from the 2018 database

Joining the circuit at an uncontrolled aerodrome

The best way to join a circuit pattern at an uncontrolled aerdrome is to make what’s called a Standard Overhead Join (SOJ). The first step is to approach the airport from the traffic side at 1500ft Above Ground Level [AGL] (which is 500ft above the circuit height. This altitude is normally given in the aerodrome plates). Make a radio call, like the one in the diagram to state your
intentions so other pilots know you are joining the circuit.

After this track towards the runways threshold you are going to land on, in this case runway 23. Once overhead make another radio call (refer diagram) and start descending to circuit height while flying in a curved path so that you track over the opposite runway’s threshold. You should be at circuit height at this point so make sure you adjust your path in order to do so.

From here its a matter of joining the downwind leg and flying the circuit into land. Make sure you get a call when you are turning downwind and look out for other aircraft already in the downwind leg!


The aircraft must be equipped with a functioning radio and the pilot must be radio qualified (in English or French). On arrival, the first contact with Sion Tower(118.275 MHz) should be made at the following locations:

Martigny for arrivals from the west in the Rhone Valley

Leuk for arrivals from the east in the Rhone Valley

Sanetch for arrivals from the north, or five minutes before entering the
controlled zone (CTR)

The descent must be planned so as not to reach the minimum altitude (MNM ALT) before the reporting point (REP), taking safety into account. Reporting point S (Sierra) is used when Runway 07 is in use while reporting point N (November) is used when Runway 25 is in use.

Go around

During the following periods, aerodrome training circuits are forbidden for
aircraft not based in Sion:

  • On Mondays to Fridays: from 0700to 0800 LT, from 1200 to 1300 LT, and from 1800 to 2000 LT.
  • On Sundays and holidays.

SION AIRPORT – VFR departure

Before each flight it is requested to file a flight plan or a flight notification.

For aircraft on VFR departure, it is not compulsory to ask for switching on the engine, except in case of a joining IFR is planned with the control area of Geneva (flight plan Z). Proceed as instructed by Sion Ground on 121.7000 MHz towards the holding point of the runway in use. It is not allowed to cross the runway towards holding point 07 unless authorized by Sion Ground Control.

Before departure, transmit the exit route (crossing W or E1).

Sion Tower (118.275MHz) and Ground Sion (121.700MHz) frequencies can be coupled. If the authorization for takeoff is received on the Ground frequency, the pilot should switch over Tower Frequency on his own after takeoff. After departure, leave the CTR while keeping to the right of the valley and announce crossing or E1. Do not confuse E1 with E2. E2 (the village of St. Leonard) is nearer the airport than E1 (the town of Sierre).

VFR Transit

When the weather is good for flying in the Alps, many aircrafts are transiting in the Rhone Valley. To ask for a crossing, simply contact the tower frequency giving the complete registration, its position, altitude, and the direction of the crossing. If the aircraft is equipped with a transponder, insert the code VFR 7000 in mode C (altitude). In summer, you should expect the presence of gliders, para gliders and delta-planes.

Why Planes Crash?

Apart from sabotage or intentional harm, air accidents are generally caused due to Environmental Factors.

Weather plays a key role in flight safety. Poor visibility, lightning, cloud bursts, and other inimical weather conditions hike up the risks of an aviation accident. Bird hits may also cause damage to the craft and the airfoil. Technical factors contributing to a crash could include lack of adequate radio-navigational aids, mechanical problems with the engine/avionics, or parts malfunctioning during flight. Technical errors include system issues. The human error factor is the most important among all the causes for crashes. Pilot/ground crew fatigue, experience, mental-physical strength are all contributing factors. Competent air traffic controllers and pilots with adequate English language skills are imperative to effective radio communication as well.
According to statistics from planecrashinfo.com, pilot error has been the leading cause of aviation accidents through all time.

Cockpit Checkouts

Pilots compensate for an aircraft cockpit poor design and layout. Experienced pilots, who have been exposed to more aircraft of all ages, are able to compensate better than the neophyte. Any pilot who first sits in a cockpit should make a mental and physical survey of controls and instruments. The direction things move is better when consistent with your past training. Some older VOR heads are read from the bottom not the top. Same with older heading indicators which are built like and read like a compass.

All switches, knobs, handles, need to be checked for identification, operation, and function. The controls may obstruct at least one or more instruments or knobs. A gauge that is hidden or obscured is a no-fly consideration. It is not unusual to have one side of an instrument face be hidden from one seat or the other. Sit in the cockpit and confirm you know what every instrument, knob, and button is used for.

Bernoulli’s principle

Bernoulli’s principle helps explain that an aircraft can achieve lift because of the shape of its wings. They are shaped so that that air flows faster over the top of the wing and slower underneath. Fast moving air equals low air pressure while slow moving air equals high air pressure. The high air pressure underneath the wings will therefore push the aircraft up through the lower air pressure.

How do we control flight?

Control of an aircraft is on three axes: Yaw, pitch and roll. Moving parts of the wing, tailplane and fin surfaces change the the camber of these parts and affect their lift (and their drag) and provide forces to change the aircraft’s path.

  • Rudder controls Yawing (left/right)
  • Elevators control pitching (nose up/down)
  • Ailerons control rolling