Home: L3 Commercial Training Solutions

Week One – Ben Russell

Date: 2 August 2018

The first few days after starting at the Academy are, of course, some of the most unfamiliar during the course, so the team at L3 asked if I could look back in my diary to share my experience of the first week. Looking back on it now it seems like a lifetime ago - I’m now 10 months into the course and doing my Foundation Flight Training in the breath-taking surroundings of Hamilton, New Zealand.

Our arrival in Southampton (my ground school location) was celebrated with our families at the ‘First Flight’ Event for CP174 (CP stands for Career Programme) and EZMP23, which is my specific course code for the easyJet MPL that I am enrolled on.


We met all of our new course mates, and had our first chance to get to know the people we would be spending the next year and a half of our lives with! My course has a mixture of cadets from easyJet, FlyBe and the ATPL program or ‘White Tail’ course. White Tail simply means they will be applying for First Officer roles after their training rather than being pre-selected by an airline.


We were given an introduction from senior members of the L3 Airline Academy Team, followed by separate presentation for cadets and family members.


Our families had a tour of the facilities, including a simulator experience (I’m proud to announce that all of my accompanying family members successfully landed!). We were also given a further introduction into what our lives are going to be like for the next 18 months, from today all the way through to joining our first airline. In addition, we were given a presentation on how the course will be run, taught, and assessed. It also gave us a brief introduction to which routes each of our course mates were on and of course we each had to give the classic “So, tell everyone about yourself” – a speech we are now quite accustomed to giving.  


Next was our accommodation and uniform briefing, and then we were given our keys to the accommodation provided for the course. After this, we had a reunion with our families over lunch which was followed by travelling 20 mins by car to my new house! We were greeted by our housemate who had moved in earlier, which made for a nice ice breaker and then started the lengthy unpacking process!



Once finished, the farewell to my parents and brother who had come down with me followed – having not been to university, this is the first experience of living ‘on my own’ I have had, but fortunately have my four house mates to keep me company!

The next day marked ‘APD1’ (Airline Preparation Day 1) for CP174 which is an introduction to life in aviation from some of L3 Airline Academy’s highly experienced instructors and staff. This also gave us another chance to get to know the course a bit better, and introduce ourselves to those outside of our specific houses. Maths refresher training after lunch was an opportunity to ensure that all cadets have a basic understanding of the key principles we will need in both the course and throughout our careers. I was then off to the shops after lessons finished for supplies!


The first day of ATPL Theoretical Knowledge, which kicked off the 26 weeks of ground school that take place before we can get our hands on an aircraft to actually fly. Our first day was Human Performance Limitations (commonly known as HPL - much easier to say!), one of the 14 ATPL Theoretical Knowledge subjects required to obtain a Professional Pilot's Licence. HPL covers everything from Safety Culture to the Cardiovascular System, and the effects of Hypoxia to the reason your ears pop on ascent and descent!


Day 2 of TK (Theoretical Knowledge) was Meteorology (Met) which consists of anything and everything to do with the weather, our atmosphere and the environment – all neatly stacked into a 600+ page book that we will be learning from cover to cover!

Now having completed Ground School, I have been asked to give my top tips on how to survive the first week of ground school, so here goes…


I had been looking forward to starting my Flight Training ever since I decided that I wanted to fly for a career, it's a very unique path to follow so you may feel like you have to start going down it alone (but not forever!). For me, it was not a common career choice in my school and so finding myself in a room with 24 other people all on the same career path is quite special! So my first piece of advice is: relish getting to know the like-minded bunch of people on the same course as you, and get chatting to those further down the road than you! The best source of information on what the training is like are the cadets who are only a few months ahead of you. The first week is one of the best opportunities you have to get to know your course mates, so use it!


My next nugget of advice is that APD 1 is a really good place to recap the basic maths and physics knowledge you will be needing throughout the course. Also, when Theory training begins it is a really good time to experiment with revision techniques so that you know what technique suits you once all subjects are in full swing… This is especially important if, like myself, you have been out of school for a year or two before starting the course – you are basically learning to learn again!


Lastly, Ground school is a very intensive six months, so be prepared to work hard from Day 1 – if you can stay on top of your work from the start then the CAA will reward you! Remember that the end goal is reaching your dream career, and now you are building the foundation for it. Once you take control of an aeroplane for the first time, you will realize it is definitely worth all the hard work you do in ground school!

- Ben Russell