03 Jun 2014

Private Pilot Licence Balloons Ground Exam Syllabus

For all those student hot-air balloon pilots, here are some helpful reminder notes...

The syllabus for the Ground Examinations is available from the British Balloon & Airship Club (It is in the BBAC Training Manual document).


At the moment there are five, hot-air balloon Private Pilot Licence PPL(B) theory papers (Valid at June 2017)

1 - Air Law - 30 minutes (multiple choice)
Air Law Syllabus
Recommended book(s)
Air Pilots Manual – Volume 2 ‘Aviation Law and Meteorology’ - ISBN 978-1-84336-066-7
The British Balloon and Airship Club (BBAC) Training Manual – available from spares@cameronballoons.co.uk on behalf of the BBAC

Air Law Syllabus Topics – Pilots Under Training (PUT’s) should have a thorough working knowledge of all of these topics.
Understand the 500ft Rule - Often termed as the ‘Low Flying Regs’ (Regulations)
Understand the 1000ft Rule
Understand the 1000m Rule
Lights on aircraft (colours, angles, failure in flight, landing lights)
Lights on balloons (at night and for tethering)
Personal flying log books (contents, records and who to produce them to)
Qualifications for PPL (age, hours, recommendation, instructor flights)
PPL Licence (validity of licence, conditions for currency)
Paid instruction (who can charge, under what conditions, cost sharing)
Emergency signals from the ground (projectiles)
Emergency Frequency
Distress and Urgency Calls by radio
Dimensions and details of MATZ
Dimensions and restrictions of ATZ
Airspace restrictions of a CTR
Airspace restrictions of a CTA
Airspace (permission to tether close to)
Airspace (permission to fly close to)
Airspace violation (who do you report to and how)
Airmiss / Airprox (reporting of an definitions of)
Reportable Accidents / Incidents (what is reportable, who to report to, when and how)
Medical certificates (validity and classes)
Illness (prolonged illness and returning to flying)
Pregnancy (flying during pregnancy – pilots and passengers)
Alcohol & Drugs (pilots, crew and passengers – limits)
Altimeter settings (Understand QNH / QFE)
Altimeter Settings in different types of airspace (ATZ / MATZ etc)
Light Beacons at airfields
Danger Areas (decode the reference numbers and understand when active)
Lights on obstacles
VFR (understand the minimum conditions at different heights)
NOTAMS (Class 1 &2) (NOTAM = Notice to Airmen)
AIC (categories, colours, sources and availability) (Aeronautical Information Circular from NATS the National Air Traffic Service – the main air traffic navigation service provider in the UK)
Quadrantal Rule
Emergency Signals (ground-to-air and air-to-ground)
Tethering (maximum height, lights, permission, streamers, proximity to structures etc)


2 - Airmanship & Balloon Systems - 45 minutes (multiple choice)
Airmanship and Balloon Syllabus 

Recommended book(s) 
Manufacturers Flight Manual – download your FREE Cameron Balloons Flight & Maintenance Manual here http://www.cameronballoons.co.uk/support#hot-air-balloon-flight-manual-en

As the PPL(b) exams were written well over a decade ago - it is also useful to refer to the 1992 Cameron Balloons Flight & Maintenance Manual, Iss.7 found on Cameron Balloons Support Pages (scroll down for) Manuals : Archive
The British Balloon and Airship Club (BBAC) Training Manual – available from spares@cameronballoons.co.uk on behalf of the BBAC

Airmanship and Balloon Syllabus Topics – Pilots Under Training (PUT’s) should have a thorough working knowledge of all of these topics.
Operating Conditions (as specified by manufacturer’s Flight Manual)
Permissible Damage (as specified by Manufacturer’s Flight Manual)
Maximum Continuous Envelope Temperature (as specified by Manufacturers Flight Manual)
Flag Temperatures (different types) Note: these days there is just one type – so you will need information from the archive manual.
Overheating (‘tell-tale’ heat-flags)
Overheating (flag fall out and procedure)
Annual Inspection (frequency, paperwork, procedure)
Grab-testing (how often, procedures and strengths)
Parachute Operation (how long and how far) and types of deflation system and operation.
Velcro Rips (securing of, operation of and height restrictions) Note: Use the archive manual too for more information.
Instruments (legal requirements to carry instruments) This is tricky as the information correct today is NOT the same as the information needed for the exam!
Load Chart (what information is used to calculate lift)
Load Chart (know weights of typical equipment, tanks etc.)
Load Chart (temperatures, heights etc.)
Load Chart (be able to work the chart backwards to determine maximum height etc.)
Load Chart (maximum loading of material)
Tethering (strength of ropes and karabiners)
Tethering limitations Note that this can be different for different balloons
Pilot Light Failure (procedures for re-lighting and for complete failure)
Maximum Rate of Descent Note that this can be different for different balloons
Maximum Rate of Ascent
Insurance (minimum insurance requirements)
Landowner Relations (choice of landing field) spot
Landowner Relations (use of liquid-fire at low level) This means the whisper burner
Landowner Relations (recommended heights above animals)
Landowner Relations (seasons for grouse, pheasants etc.)
Landowner Relations (types of fencing indicating the likely use of the field)
Landowner Relations (gymkhanas, riding schools, lungeing)
Landowner Relations (code of conduct)
Landowner Relations (sensitive area system, types, updates, availability) Note The Bristol area has a more colourful system and in America they call them PZ’s (Prohibited Zones)
False Lift and how to prepare for it)
Thermal Conditions (what causes it and how do you prepare for it) avoid it
Curlover (what is it and where do you expect it) avoid it
Coanda Effect (what is it and when would it)
Fire in the air procedure (emergency plan)
Fire on the ground procedure (emergency plan)
Fire Extinguishers (appropriate types for different types of fires)
Propane Properties (pressure at different temperatures etc.)
Propane (expansion of, density of, leak detection, contamination, explosive mixture)
Refuelling Procedures (BBAC propane code, safe refuelling, over-filing of cylinders and prevention, ullage (the volume by which a liquid container falls short of being full)
Flight Cylinders (valves, gauges, dip-tubes, cylinder-covers, orientation of cylinders for use)
Flight Cylinders (inspection of, cleaning of, testing of)
Flight Cylinders (pressure-relief-valve = PRV, valve operation, PRV replacement, 10yr inspection)
Flight Cylinders (pressurisation and ‘spiking’ of cylinders and when and how not to do it)
Flight Cylinders (storage of, maximum temperatures etc.)
Flight Cylinders (fuel management)
Burner Test (Procedure of)
Burner Pressure (minimum and maximum recommended pressures)
Butane (how it differs from Propane)
Valve Leaks (procedure for valve stem leaks, hose leaks etc. in the air and on the ground)
Radio Use (Balloon Frequency in the UK, Europe and emergencies, radio check)
Passenger Briefings (content of, when to do them)
Pre-flight checks (content of)
Pre-landing Checks (content of)
Paperwork (recording of flights)
Paperwork (balloon documentation)


3 - Human Performance & Limitations - 30 minutes (multiple choice)
Human Performance & Limitations

Recommended book(s) 
Air Pilots Manual – Volume 6 ‘Human Factors and Pilot Performance’ - ISBN 978-1-84336-070-4
The British Balloon and Airship Club (BBAC) Training Manual – available from spares@cameronballoons.co.uk on behalf of the BBAC

Human Performance & Limitations Syllabus Topics – Pilots Under Training (PUT’s) should have a thorough working knowledge of all of these topics.
Breathing (know the parts of the respiratory system) and what they do
Breathing (percentages of gases in the atmosphere)
Breathing (effects of reduced pressure)
Oxygen (what height is Oxygen required above)
Oxygen (what height is judgement impaired at)
Oxygen (symptoms of Hypoxia & Hyperventilation)
Circulation (understand the circulation system)
Circulation (arterial disease, coronary risk factors, blood pressure, stoke)
Alcohol (understand units of alcohol)
Alcohol (rate at which it is used up by the body)
Alcohol (recommended limits & time limits and the amounts permitted before flying)
Drugs (effects of prescription and other drugs)
Eyes (know the parts of the eye)
Eyes (short sight and long sight)
Eyes (empty field myopia)
Eyes (Saccades) rapid movement of the eye between fixation points
Eyes (detecting movement and colour)
Ears (know the parts of the ear) and what they do
Ears (how alcohol affects the inner ear and balance)
Ears (effect of pressure changes during flight
Ears (noise and age induced hearing loss)
Scuba Diving (effect on body and blood) at different depths
Scuba Diving (intervals before flying)
Barotrauma (entrapped gases)
Motion Sickness (causes and cures)
Diet (exercise, obesity)
Stress (types of stress and causes)
Stress (methods of identifying and coping with stress)
Fatigue (fatigue, shift-working)
Psychology (risk taking in groups)
Psychology (types of personality)
Psychology (effect of experience and expectation on outcomes)
Psychology (central decision channel and mental workload)
Psychology (rule-based behaviour, skill-based behaviour)
Psychology (erroneous mental models)
Psychology (accurate mental models)


4 - Meteorology - 30 minutes (multiple choice)
Meteorology Syllabus
Recommended book(s) 
Air Pilots Manual – Volume 2 ‘Aviation Law and Meteorology’ - ISBN 978-1-84336-066-7
The British Balloon and Airship Club (BBAC) Training Manual – available from spares@cameronballoons.co.uk on behalf of the BBAC

Meteorology Syllabus Topics – Pilots Under Training (PUT’s) should have a thorough working knowledge of all of these topics.
Wind (Surface wind and gradient wind, estimate one, knowing the other) (In ballooning the gradient wind is commonly known as the approx. 2000ft wind)
Wind (circulation around pressure systems)
Wind (why does the wind drop at night)
Anabatic Wind (where, when and direction)
Katabatic Wind (where, when and direction)
Sea Breeze (characteristics, times)
Land Breeze (characteristics, times)
METAR (information contained, validity, updates, sources)
TAF (information contained, validity, updates, sources)
AIRMET (information contained, validity, updates, sources)
VOLMET (information contained, validity, updates, sources)
Forecast Terms (trends, tempo, CAVOK, magnetic, true etc)
Fog (different types of fog and why they form)
Fog (definition of fog compared to mist)
Clouds (layer clouds, characteristics, causes and associated weather)
Clouds (heaped clouds, characteristics, causes and associated weather)
Fronts (cold front characteristics, causes and associated weather)
Fronts (warm front characteristics, causes and associated weather)
Weather Systems (what is a COL and what would you expect) etc
Weather Systems (understand isobars, fronts and weather symbols)
Lapse Rates (environmental, dry and saturated lapse rates)
Lapse Rates (understand how the base and tops of clouds form)
Lapse Rates (stability and instability associated with lapse rates)


5 - Navigation - 90 minutes (multiple choice)
Navigation Syllabus

IMPORTANT NOTE – Before taking this exam you should have revised and understood all your PPL(B) Air Law too - as this exam refers to parts of Air Law too ! (Actually, it is very useful to know all your Balloon Systems prior to taking your examinations too…)

Recommended book(s) and equipment
Balloon navigation – well, strangely there isn’t really a balloon navigation book – so you usually have to ‘pick through’ to find useful bits in fixed-wing books and online resources.

Air Pilots Manual – Volume 2 ‘Air Navigation’ - ISBN 978-1-84336-067-5
This book is quite useful but is entirely focused on fixed-wing – so stick to the PPL(B) syllabus and don’t get distracted by the interesting but not useful for the purposes of the PPL(B) examination topics. Do pick out relevant questions in the back of the book and try them though!

Working knowledge of the Maps used the exam
– It is worth learning the legends on the ICAO 1:500,000 map and Ordnance Survey (OS) 1:50,000 (pink cover) maps https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/docs/legends/50k-raster-legend.pdf
Note: you will be provided with full maps - including the legends in the theory exam.

OS guide for map reading – for beginners (aimed at children – but really useful for those who are new to map-reading)
https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/docs/leaflets/map-reading.pdf  with useful tips and videos here https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/education/

Permitted Theory Examination Equipment
Calculator (not a smart phone!)
Magnifying Glass
Scale ruler – available from pilot shops 1:50 and 1:500 scale

Navigation Syllabus Topics – Pilots Under Training (PUT’s) should have a thorough working knowledge of all of these topics subjects
Start point (identify your launch point)
Mid-point (after a few questions you are given a new ‘fix’ on the map)
Mid-point (Advice from the BBAC – This could be a new ‘fix’ do not re-draw your earlier answers to suit this)
Grid References (understand and be able to use 6 and 8 figure versions)
Points of Reference (identify points of reference for flight planning and navigation)
Track (determine your current track)
Heading (determine your current heading)
Bearing (determine a bearing to or from a position)
Bearings (understand magnetic, true and grid and the differences between them)
Understanding the OS Map symbols
Understanding the ICAO Chart symbols
Speed (calculate average speed)
Speed (calculate time of arrival at a point)
Air Law (note some questions do require an understanding of air law)
Air Law (minimum legal height above a point)
Air Law (entry to restricted airspace)
Air Law (identify Danger Areas and other obstacles on ICAO chart)
Conversion (between statute miles, nautical miles, kilometres etc.)
Conversion (between knots, miles-per-hour, kilometres-per-hour etc.)
Latitude and Longitude (identify points on the map using Lat. and Long.)
Flight Duration (calculate fuel used and fuel remaining)
ICAO Chart (determine information about airspace and airfields from the ICAO chart)

The recommended reading for the PPL(b) is:

Air Pilots Manual Volume 2 - Air Law & Meteorology    ISBN: 1-978-1-84336-066-7
Air Pilots Manual Volume 6 - Human Performance       ISBN: 1-978-1-84336-071-1
BBAC Training Manual - Available from Cameron Balloons or the Training Officer at The British Balloon & Airship Club
Manufacturers Flight Manual - Balloon Systems – download your FREE Cameron Balloons Flight & Maintenance Manual here http://www.cameronballoons.co.uk/support#hot-air-balloon-flight-manual-en and Archive Manual Cameron Balloons Flight & Maintenance Manual, Issue 7.

Cameron Balloons can help with any aspect of pilot training - please contact us at enquiries@cameronballoons.co.uk +44(0)117 963 7216

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