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What are Pilot Aptitude Tests?

Emma Akhurst | 18.05.22

Pilot Aptitude Tests are assessments that you are likely to take at the start of your journey to become a pilot. They are a form of psychometric tests that are used by airlines and aviation training organisations to gain an insight into your suitability for a specific role or training program. In simple terms, they provide an indication to the flight school as to how likely you are to be successful in their training programme and ultimately in your career as a pilot.

Looking at the assessments in more detail, these are used to assess the core pilot competencies set out by ICAO along with any other key areas defined by the organisation that you are applying to, with a view to gaining an understanding of your skills, knowledge, behaviour and motivation.

After you have qualified as a pilot it is likely that you will continue to encounter pilot aptitude tests as you apply for your first role, move from airline to airline, switch to a different aircraft, go through a command upgrade or move into a different role such as instructor.

ADAPT screenshot

What exactly is being tested?

As we have covered, pilot aptitude tests are designed to assess the core pilot competencies set out by ICAO that are required for successfully performing the pilot’s role. But what are the competencies and how do you measure them?

The core pilot competencies are

Leadership and Teamwork


Situational Awareness

Workload Management

Problem Solving and Decision Making

Application of Knowledge

Aeroplane Flight Path Management

Application of Procedures

How to actually measure these competencies through pilot aptitude testing has been defined in a document by IATA covering Guidance Material and Best Practices in Pilot Aptitude Testing.

The guidance details 6 key areas for measurement

1. English Language Proficiency

English language proficiency is essential for the pilot role, and an ICAO Level 4 is the minimum standard acceptable for pilots.

2. Basic Mental Abilities

Basic mental abilities include cognitive factors, including memory, information processing, technical comprehension, and long-term concentration.

3. Composite Mental Abilities

Composite mental abilities cover psychomotor skills and spatial abilities, as well as multitasking and allocation of attention. These skills are required for flight path management and control of the aircraft, as well as working with aircraft automation.

4. Operational Awareness

Operational abilities include decision-making, problem solving, workload management and situation awareness, to support management of different situations encountered in the pilot role.

5. Social-Interpersonal Abilities

Social-interpersonal abilities covers communication, teamwork and leadership behaviours that are required to function as part of a flight deck crew.

6. Personality Traits

Personality traits measured include professionalism, safety motivation, coping with stress and application of procedures.

So, why are Pilot Aptitude Tests important?

Pilot Aptitude Tests can be extremely important for both you and the organisation that you are applying to. Becoming a pilot is a substantial investment of both time and money and Pilot Aptitude Tests give you an indication of whether or not you have the capability to get through the training and be successful prior to making such a large commitment. Without a selection process in place to determine readiness and suitability for training, it could lead to individuals struggling through certain elements of training or not being able to reach the required standard – so it’s for the benefit of both parties to have a selection process.

Additionally, the selection process can also provide an opportunity for feedback and ensure you go into your training with more awareness of your areas for development, to support your self-improvement. For example, if the assessment process reveals some areas of concern around your technical knowledge, this is something you can try and develop ahead of starting your training, as well as ensuring you focus on this area in more detail throughout the training.

If you would like to find out more about the Pilot Aptitude Testing process, what to expect and how to prepare I recommend downloading Symbiotics' eGuide to Pilot Aptitude Testing.