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COMPASS: Computerized Pilot Aptitude Screening System

A Word From Our CEO - Attie Niemann

Screening pilot candidates in order to assess appropriate set of skills to become a commercial aviation pilot is a difficult and time consuming task. FTO’s or Airlines often have to free-up time of experienced pilots and instructors to assess candidates suitability as commercial aviation pilots. COMPASS is a pilot selection and screening system used by airlines and FTO’s to screen and select candidate pilots for commercial aviation pilot training. Because COMPASS is a series of tests taken on a normal PC, the results are not open to interpretation, all candidates are tested on the same set of skills required to become an airline pilot. The results of the COMPASS pilot aptitude test clearly show in which skills the pilot candidate is proficient or not.

Assessment of a potential Pilot at 43.

In this edition of the e-Drogue I would like to highlight the advantages, and give a short summary of the assessment tools on offer at 43 Air School to our students.

All students can now benefit enormously from our new offering at 43 Air school called COMPASS which is a pre- training aptitude assessment. Pilot aptitude being the capacity of an individual, through innate or acquired ability, to be a pilot.

This assessment is accepted world-wide by major airlines for pilot screening and testing and has a proven track record in the accurate, objective measuring of a candidate’s flying capabilities both before and during their flying training. Successful pilots display good intellectual capacities as well as a good flying aptitude. Furthermore, these candidates possess certain personality traits that enable them to remain calm in uncertain or risky situations, make good decisions, act conscientiously and show leadership. COMPASS tests therefore not only assesses cognitive ability and flying aptitude, but also personality traits in the form of a personality test.

Why is Compass a must for any potential pilot?

COMPASS is affordable. Costing around R 2500 /$200, it equips a candidate pilot with invaluable pre- training advantages. It does, with great accuracy predict what the outcome of a candidate’s training will be should he/she apply themselves during training.
Aptitude tests indicate how difficult or easy a student pilot will find flying training. Some skills are innate, but knowledge and acquired skills can be improved with practice. Aptitude tests will indicate areas where you can brush up to give yourself the best possible preparation for flight training. Sponsors benefit from knowing with a high degree of certainty(98% +) that their investment in the form of a sponsored student will be successful as any areas of concerns are dealt with through remedial training to maximize and realize the potential of the candidate early on in the training. 

The Compass Test consists of a set of psycho-motor and psycho-technical tests in the fields of computerized pilot tests, verbal reasoning, mathematics and physics. They are compliant with the standards used by all flight schools and major airlines during pre-hiring screening and give you a perfect idea of what to expect once your training commences.

For the sake of orientation of a typical test, let’s look at some modules and its components.

Short Term Memory

Short Term Memory

Both short-term memory and tolerance for stress will be assessed in this simulation. 

You will constantly be confronted with new information about altitude, heading, airspeed and radio frequencies and asked to memorize and reproduce this information.

Short Term Memory features 3 different levels (easy, medium and hard). Each level has time-limited rounds in which you have to memorize the information and answer each question correctly. At the end of the test, a score will be calculated.

Spatial Awareness

Spatial Awareness

This is a test to assess your spatial awareness and ability to read instruments. In other words, you need to understand the aircraft's attitude and position in physical space. You will be asked to pick the correct aircraft on the basis of the readings on the cockpit instruments.

The Spatial Awareness test features a practice section with questions, each with a detailed explanation of the answer. The test section features 3 different levels (easy, medium and hard). Each level will have random, time-limited questions and an exact score will be calculated afterwards. 

Math Test 

Math Test

This basic test in applied mathematics screens your understanding of the basics: multiplication, division, subtraction as well as speed, distance and time calculations. By taking this test, you can assess your mathematical skills according to the very same standards used in the industry and be thoroughly prepared when applying for a job in aviation.

The math test features a practice section with over 100 questions, each with a detailed explanation of the answer. The test section features 3 different levels (easy, medium and hard). Each level will consist of 24 random, time-limited questions with answers.

Verbal Reasoning

Verbal Reasoning

The verbal reasoning test evaluates your ability to interpret textual information and use it to determine the truth value of certain statements. For each of the statements, you will have to decide whether it is true, false (based on the given information), or that the information does not allow you to decide either way.

For the Verbal Reasoning Test you will have to read and interpret 10 short texts. You will be presented with 4 statements relating to each text. It is your task to determine whether the statement is either true, false, or that you cannot determine the truth value on the basis of the given information. The time allotted to finish the test is 22 minutes. Your score and the correct answers will be provided at the end of test. You can choose between 3 different levels (easy, medium and hard).


Physics Test

This test measures your grasp on the natural sciences in general, and the concepts of motion, space, time, energy and force in particular. It consists of two software modules: a practice module, comprising 100 questions and their answers, and the actual test module.


Number Series

The Number Series test consists of numerical sequences that follow a logical rule, based on elementary arithmetic. A sequence is given from which the rule is to be deduced. You are then asked to predict the next number in a given sequence, using that rule.

Non Verbal Reasoning (IQ)

Non Verbal Reasoning

Non-verbal reasoning involves the ability to understand and analyze visual information and solve problems using visual reasoning. You will be asked to identify relationships, similarities and differences between shapes and patterns, to recognize visual sequences and to remember relationships between objects.

The Non Verbal Reasoning (IQ) Test features a practice section with 20 questions, each with a detailed visual explanation of the answer.
The test section features 3 different levels (easy, medium and hard). Each level will have a 20 random, time-limited questions. At the end of the test, a score will be calculated to show each individual how many correct and wrong answers they got.


Multi Tasking

This test measures your multitasking skills. You will constantly be receiving information (digits) and you will be asked to enter them in the primary flight display by using the arrows and numbers on your keyboard. At the same time, alert signs will be displayed that need to be eliminated.

The Multitasking test features 3 different levels (easy, medium and hard). Each level is time limited. At the end of the test, a score will be calculated based on how accurately you entered the numbers in the primary flight display and eliminated the alert signs.

Flight Control

Flight Control

This is a test that measures your hand-eye-foot coordination. During this test you will need to keep the vertical speed indicator needle (VSI) at zero at all times. At the same time, you must keep the white ball centered inside the two white lines.

The Flight Control has a time limit. A score, based on your accuracy in keeping the needle at zero and the ball in the center, will be given in percentages. For optimum results, a joystick and rudder pedals is used for this test.

Tracking Test

Tracking Test


How many test modules does the COMPASS pilot aptitude and Advanced COMPASS test consist of.
There are 6 modules that need to be completed in order to complete the entire COMPASS test or Advanced COMPASS test. The total time for completion should be around 90 minutes with a maximum of two hours.

Are FTO’s and Airlines using the COMPASS pilot aptitude test successfully?
Yes, Many Airlines and FTO’s around the world use the COMPASS battery of tests very successfully. COMPASS has become an integral part of the screening and selection procedure for both beginner and advanced pilots for many Airlines and FTO’s.
The COMPASS aptitude test is successful because it contains a variety of different tests that measure all the skills required to become an commercial aviation pilot. COMPASS instantly gives a very clear picture of a candidates aptitude for becoming a commercial aviation pilot.
The main benefit for the Airlines and FTO’s using COMPASS is that all candidates are subjected to the exact same standardized test. This means that test scores for the different skills can be compared objectively eliminating human interpretation.
Many globally operating Airlines, FTO’s and aviation recruitment agencies see a big advantage in using the COMPASS aptitude test because COMPASS tests pilot candidates from around the world with the same testing baseline which allows for objective comparison of the required aptitude of candidate pilots.

How long does a compass session take?
A typical COMPASS testing session takes about 2 hours which can be roughly divided into 30 minutes of instruction and briefing of the candidate and 90 minutes to conduct the actual COMPASS test.
As all the questions have a time limit, the maximum time for the COMPASS test is 2 hours.

In what languages is the COMPASS pilot aptitude test available?
The COMPASS battery of pilot aptitude tests is available in several languages, however, only the instruction for each question is available in several languages, if any questions contain language then it will always be in English at a level which any aviation pilot candidate should be able to understand.

The use of English in the questions is an integral part of the test; if the candidate pilot taking the COMPASS test does not know sufficient English to understand the question, he or she is surely not qualified to become an commercial aviation pilot.The COMPASS pilot Aptitude test is available in the following languages:

  • English
  • Arabic
  • Mandarin
  • Russian

In summary, why should I do a Compass test before commencing my flying career ?

  • To accurately assess your ability and suitability to be an career pilot.
  • It will save you time and money
  • It might help you and your instructor to better understand the areas in your training that might need more focus.
  • It is a relatively inexpensive and very accurate test.
  • The two hours the test take might be the best time and money you can possibly invest in a lifelong career

43 Air School is able conduct tests at all it centers in South Africa and we have a mobile system that could be deployed for overseas airline or contract clients.

To enquire more about this test and to book an assessment contact fly@43airschool and our marketing team will be keen to assist and book you for this valuable test.

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