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.
  3. Foxtrot, Bravo, Sierra, Quebec.
  4. Bravo, Sierra, Quebec.

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!

12 thoughts on “Getting a Canadian pilot’s licence [Part 3: The tests]

  1. Is there an equivalent of Robyn’s Improved PSTAR Study Guide on the web for the PPL written test that I can find for free? I have seen the Transport Canada sample examination questions guide TP 13014 but it has only 100 questions. I know there is a guide which has 600 questions for about $35 but I’m wondering if I can find something equivalent for free on the Web.

  2. Hi Adrien,

    I cannot say that I’ve run into an equivalent for the guide. I’ve asked around and none of my pilot friends have either.

    My best suggestions would be to ask around your flight school and see if anyone has it. Also if you have friends at a college such as Seneca which offers a flight training program they may have access to better resources.


  3. I can’t get a sample of the “Radio” test, and its stressing me out big time!!! I’m much better at tests when I can come up with sample tests that help me focus my studying. I’ve have the government study guide but still… it’s freakin me out!

    anybody seen a sample test for this?

  4. Hi Larry,

    I can’t say that I’ve seen a practice exam for the Radio test.

    My best advice is to make sure you know the important stuff (i.e. When first making contact with a Canadian ATC unit, C-GABC should call itself: GABC)

    Also, make sure you know how to make a Pan, Pan and Mayday call as well as the other emergency procedures (i.e. silence, silence fini and so on). The phonetic alphabet is necessary as well but I’m sure you already know it.

    When it comes to the test, don’t be too worried about it as most things on it are common sense. As long as you know the “meat and potatoes” you’ll do fine!

    I’d recommend listening to LiveATC to get an idea of what the radio calls sound like if you haven’t had a chance to be in the air yet.

    Good luck and happy flying!

  5. I am trying to work question :

    68. Refer to the Appendix: WEATHER SYNOPSIS # 100 (FD).
    The average wind applicable to a direct flight from Winnipeg (CYWG) to Brandon (CYBR) at 5,500 ft would be
    (1) 290°M at 30 kt.
    (2) 290°T at 30 kt.
    (3) 310°M at 31 kt.
    (4) 310°T at 31 kt.

    FDCN CWAO 061920
    ISSUED 1200Z 07 FEB 2007 FOR USE 6-17Z

    3000 6000 9000 12000 18000 24000
    YWG 2825 2728-07 2932-10 2935-15 2939-26 2841-38
    YBR 3030 3132-06 3133-10 3135-15 3041-28 2948-40
    YYQ 3529 3428-13 3229-14 3130-19 3032-32 2733-42
    YYL 3327 3435-10 3338-14 3337-19 3136-31 3038-44

    Below is what I have so far

    INTERPOLATING AT 4500 FT(Between 3000 & 6000)

    CYWG – WIND DIRECTION 270-280/2 = 285
    SPEED 25+28 = 27 KTS

    CYBR WIND direction 310-300/2 = 310
    spd 30+32/2 31 kts

    What do I do from here?

  6. I’m 40 years old permanent resident in Canada (Iraqi in Origin), I have a couple of questions please:

    1.Am I too old to start getting the PPL, CPL and IR?
    2.What would be the estimate cost t get the PPL, CPL, and IR respectively?
    3.Is it correct that due to my origin I cannot get a pilot license?

    Many Thanks and looking to receiving from you in this regard

    Omar Al-Ani

  7. Hi Omar,

    Thank you for visiting my site. I’m assuming by IR you mean Instructor Rating. I’ll address your questions one at a time, but please don’t take these answers as written in stone. I am in no way an authority and I suggest you go speak with your local flight school(s) as they will be able to better answer your questions and any questions that you may have after that. Let me know if you need help finding your local flight school and I’ll see how I can help.

    Am I too old to start getting the PPL, CPL and IR?
    You are not too old to start. There were a number of people in my ground school class who were around your age or even older and were just starting out. You will have to get an aviation medical from an approved aviation medical examiner (list of approved doctors can be found here While you’re doing your PPL I would recommend getting a Class 3 medical. In your case (i.e. individuals over 40 years of age) it will be valid for 24 months and is generally cheaper and less intense. When you move on to the CPL you will need a Class 1 medical which you will have to renew every 6 months.

    What would be the estimate cost t get the PPL, CPL, and IR respectively?
    The cost will largely depend on how much time you have to dedicate to the training. You can definitely do a PPL in a summer. If you haven’t looked at the requirements yet, take a look at to get an idea of what you need for a CPL in terms of flight experience. I would budget roughly $12,000 for the PPL, $8,000 for the CPL (need to have at least 200 hours total time so this includes renting a plane to get to that point) and another $6,000 for the Instructor Rating.

    Is it correct that due to my origin I cannot get a pilot license?
    I have not heard of such a limitation. You will have to show proof of citizenship (Canadian or otherwise) to obtain your licences but I have not heard of any limitation based on background. This is definitely a question I would ask the flight school or give Transport Canada a call.

    Hope this helps and let me know if you have other questions!

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