Pilot Aptitude Tests

Aptitude tests are used by a variety of organizations to test the natural ability of job applicants, with relation to the career or job position that they are applying for. One of the more exciting types of aptitude tests are the pilot aptitude tests. Most airlines, flight schools, and even the U.S. Air Force use these tests to screen potential clients and to guarantee the success of pilots in their organizations. Whether if you are facing the possibility of being asked to take any of the many pilot aptitude tests, or if you have a curiosity as to what is involved in a pilot aptitude test, it is a fascinating subject nonetheless.

Perhaps the best example of professional pilot aptitude tests is the Test of Basic Aviation Skills or TBAS. Adopted by the U.S. Air Force from 1993, until just recently in 2006, the TBAS test battery is used during the pilot training program with the U.S. Air Force, and plays a critical role in the graduation of recruits from this pilot training.

TBAS consists of 9 separate pilot aptitude exams, and the total test time will take less than one hour to complete. These 9 tests are listed below:

Major Types

Directional Orientation Test

The Directional Orientation test measures your ability to determine the relative distance to a target. Performed on a simulator using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, or UAV, you are provided with the location and bearing of your UAV, as well as a display simulating the cockpit of the UAV. On this test, which contains 48 questions, you are asked to click where the overhead voice on the test instructs.

3-Digit and 5-Digit Listening Tests

In this test, you are given three and five numbers to memorize. When the overhead speaker calls one of these numbers, you must press the trigger to signify that you recognize the number called. This test segment only lasts three minutes.

Horizontal Tracking Test

In this test, you are required to use foot pedals on the simulator to keep a rectangle over the UAV as it moves back and forth across the bottom of the screen. The UAV will change direction if the rectangle touches the side of the screen, or if you successfully target the rectangle for more than a few seconds. This test lasts only a few minutes and increases with difficulty as the time passes on the test.

Airplane Tracking Test:

In this test, you are required to keep a sight on an enemy aircraft as it moves across the screen (at the same speed). The enemy aircraft will change direction if it hits the side of the screen, or if you track it successfully for more than a few seconds.

Airplane and Horizontal Tracking Test

In this test, you are tracking an airplane, similar to the Airplane  Tracking Test. Also, you must also apply the skill used in the Horizontal Tracking Test.

ATT, HTT, and Listening Tests

In this test series, you will apply the skills used with the Horizontal Tracking Test, the Airplane Tracking Test, and you will also respond to given numbers when called, just like in the 3-Digit and 5-Digit Listening Tests.

Emergency Scenario Test

In the last test, you are required to perform the horizontal tacking and airplane tracking tasks but also expected to enter an “emergency code” on the keyboard, when needed.

As you can see, these pilot aptitude tests all combine to create a very accurate measurement of whether or not you have what it takes to be an Air Force pilot. With the combination of reflex, memory, and natural targeting abilities, the Air Force can quickly determine if you have the innate ability to fly a combat aircraft. Although civilian pilot aptitude tests differ, all pilot aptitude tests have one thing in common- they are impossible to study for. No knowledge of avionics is required above a pure understanding, and that is where these aptitude tests shine.


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