The Professional Aviation
   Board Of Certification

This section describes the features, functions and rationale behind the  GPPC Exam, including:

In addition, this section also describes:

The GPPC and MPL

ICAO developed the Multi-crew Pilot License (MPL) to provide a safe and effective way to train the large number of pilots needed to meet the future global demand for commercial air transport. ICAO and the MPL development team deserve great credit:  MPL standards are the most current and comprehensive training criteria available today.

To achieve the full potential of this MPL initiative, four more steps are required. The MPL standards need to be:

  • Expanded to address the knowledge, skills, attitudes and competencies (KSACs) needed by all professional, fixed-wing airline and business pilots.
  • Validated by a substantial number of subject matter experts (SMEs) from across that broader body of professional pilots.
  • Adapted for application to ab initio and bridge training programs that provide most of the pilots entering the profession today. 
  • Assessed to provide independent proof that candidate pilots have acquired the KSACs defined by the standards.   

Industry SMEs will determine the extent to which the airline-based MPL standards need to be expanded in order to support "business operations".  That expansion is generally expected to increase emphasis on flight planning, aircraft loading, servicing, maintenance and inspections, enroute and terminal support services, and customer service subjects.  

Comparing the GPPC to Other Training Standards & Exams

By using MPL as its starting point, the GPPC standards and exam will equal or exceed the scope, depth and rigor of current ATP/ATPL and MPL written testings.

Generic Standards 

The GPPC uses generic standards in order to provide the best possible support  for the written testing required by state regulators for pilot licensure. Typical ATP/ATPL written tests evaluate a pilot's generic understanding of foundational knowledge that is the basis for more detailed training on specific aircraft and operational conditions in the future.

A generic GPPC supports instructors, examiners and pilots involved in:

  • MPL programs - assuring that candidates are ready to enter the type-specific phase of their course work.
  • Ab initio and bridge programs - because most candidates do not know which aircraft they'll fly or the company they'll work for after graduation.

Generic standards reduce the cost of pre-employment training for candidate pilots and instructional programs by:

  • Maximizing use the full spectrum of Flight Simulation and Training Devices (FSTDs) recommended under the new ICAO Document 9625.
  • Reducing the level of dependence on costly high fidelity simulators.
  • Enabling training providers to reduce the cost of developing and maintaining a variety of unique programs for different employers and regulatory bodies.

Generic standards benefit employers by:

  • Attracting more candidates to the profession through reduced training costs and clarified career entry requirements.
  • Increasing the effectiveness of employer-provided training by:
  • Ensuring that pilots know and can apply foundational knowledge. 
  • Eliminating the need to "un-learn" previous training. 

ISO's Importance to the GPPC

ISO Standards 17021 and 17024 are the "gold standard" for developing and administering an internationally recognized professional certification program (scheme). In addition, ISO regularly audits its certifying bodies, such as PABC, to ensure ongoing compliance with ISO accreditation requirements.

ISO Standards are NOT career-specific. They are critera that have been agreed to by psychometric (testing) experts from aound the world for  developing and managing professional certification programs. They do NOT address the unique KSACs required of profesionals in aviation, health care, engineering or any other career field.  

Three of the most prominent features of ISO-accreditaiton are its standard-setting, exam development and maintenance requirements.

Standards must be:

  • Developed by highly qulaified SMEs from across the discipline  served by the credential; in this case, by a cross-section of commercial and business pilots from around the world.
  • Validated by a statistically significant number of equally well-qualified and diverse SMEs.

Exam development is similar:

  • SMEs write test questions
  • The test items are then:
  • Validated by an independent set of SMEs for currency and technical accuracy.
  • Evaluated using ISO criteria to ensure that individual test items and the overall set of questions in the exam (the "test form") are: 
  • Effective         Objective         Comprehensive
  • Clear                 Unbiased         Fair
  • Proportionally representative of KSAC criticallity
  • Predictive of the candidate's future performance
  • Defensible in an international court of law.     

Maintenance requirements are stringent

  • Exam Items (test questions) are continuously monitored
  • Candidate exams are analyzed to identify questions that are: 
  • Too easy or too hard
  • Frequently misunderstood or reported to be "confusing"
  • Standards and test items must change with regulatory changes
  • Standards & Exam Forms
  • Standards reviews are regularly scheduled to ensure currency.
  • A complete review of all standards is conduced every 5 years.
  • Exam questions are:
  • Updated to support changes in the standards.
  • Continuously monitored to detect security breaches.

Computer Based Testing (CBT)

Computer based testing (CBT) enables the GPPC to provide the highest quality testing and most timely and cost effective operations for our stakeholders. Although CBT is much more expensive to develop than traditional paper testing, the cost is fully justified by benefits that include:

  • Use of enhanced graphics to support test questions
  • Prompt scoring and reporting of test results
  • Timely and cost effective analysis of test item effectiveness
  • Instant worldwide exam updates

Multiple Exams vs. Single Exam Format

To support ICAO and MPL testing conventions, the GPPC exam will be constructed as a series of separate tests. In consultation with regulators and industry SMEs, PABC will determine the final number of exams and the specific clustering of subject matter within each of the GPPC tests.

The 10th edition of ICAO Annex 1 standards, July 2006, list the subject areas below as being required training for the MPL. ICAO also requires that English language competency in radiotelephony and written communication be demonstrated. 

  • Aerodynamics & the Principles of Flight
  • Aircraft General Knowledge
  • Systems, Limitations, Operations and Servicing
  • Air Law
  • CRM/TEM/SMS & Human Performance
  • Meteorology
  • Navigation
  • Operational Procedures (Normal, Precautionary & Emergency)
  • Performance, Planning & Loading

ICAO, many state regulatory authorities and IATA encourage the use of competency-based standards in the training of pilots and other aviation professionals. The GPPC supports that concept and extends it to the design of this exam. The GPPC will test the candidates' ability to apply their KSACs in dealing with normal and non-normal problems that arise in typical commercial and business flight operations. 

The problems will be presented in the form of scenarios that require candidates to use commonly available references and resources to safely and effectively resolve the problems they encounter.

Such testing benefits all stakeholders by providing credible, independent proof that the pilot has developed a foundational level of competency across the full spectrum of required operational subject areas.

Future Testing

As state regulators, employers, training providers and other stakeholders gain confidence in the GPPC, advanced testing concepts will be evaluated for use that have the potential to significantly enhance the effectiveness of the GPPC. 

Ultimately, through the use of "adaptive testing", the number of exams in this series may be reduced - without compromising the quality or scope of the assessment process.

Pilot qualifications for testing

While the specific qualifications will be determined by regulatory authorities and stakeholder SMEs, the expected eligibility requirements appear likely to call for candidates to:

  • Hold a current commercial pilot license with instrument rating,
  • Have completed at least Phase 2 of an approved MPL program

Test Familiarization

The GPPC standard-setting and exam development process is expected to take approximately two (2) years. During and after that period, the PABC website will provide:

  • Access to the standards as they are finalized, and
  • Examples of the types of test items (questions) used in the exam

Feedback for Candidates

Soon after completing one or more of the exams, candidates will receive a private summary of their personal performance on the test(s) they've taken. When appropriate, the summary will identify any areas in which further study is needed, but it will not provide detailed information on the candidate's response to any of the questions on the exam.

GPPC supports ATOs and Accreditation

Periodically, PABC will publish de-identified aggregate summaries of candidate performance on the various exams:

  • When appropriate, managers Approved Training Organizations (ATOs) and Accredited Programs will receive discrete summaries of how their graduates performed, to assist the efforts of program managers and instructors to improve  the quality and effectiveness of their courses.
  • Data drawn from all tests taken during a reporting period, will be made available to all stakeholders. These reports are designed to increase industry awareness of the overall progress being made to improve the scope and effectiveness of pre-employment training programs and candidate preparedness. 

The GPPC offers a second level of support for ATOs and Accredited programs by publishing the pass-fail rates of their graduates on the GPPC exam(s). By doing so, high quality training programs will receive the recognition they deserve as a direct result of the performance of their graduates on the exam. The marketing value of such independent proof of program quality makes optimum use of market forces, rather than solely relying on regulatory enforcement, to improve the quality of pre-employment professional pilot training.