Getting a FRTOL

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OK so what do you need to do to get your FRTOL?

There are two exams:The first is a written paper consisting of 30 questions with multi choice answers. The pass mark is 75%. The second is a practical test carried out on a PC based simulator. The candidate “flies” a route from one airfield to another during which he is expected to make and receive all calls to relevant stations en-route. The flight involves crossing a control zone and a MATZ, the airfields of departure and arrival could be any level of aerodrome control. Whilst in flight the candidate is made aware of one or more emergency situations to which they must make the appropriate call. The result of this exam is either pass or fail. Once the exams have been passed the application for the FRTOL is sent to the CAA.

If it is part of the initial pilot’s licence application or if the pilot already has a licence, the FRTOL will be issued free of charge.

 Can I just go ahead and take the exam?

It is unlikely that you could pass with no preparation. The exams are based on the content of CAP 413 the UK RT Manual. You could use this for self-study but it is quite comprehensive and does contain information in excess of that needed to pass the exams, alternatively you could go to ground studies at your flying school. The last option is usually the best as your instructor can pace the lessons to suit you. Your flying school could also arrange the exams or failing that, a list of FRTOL examiners can be obtained from the CAA website.

Once you have your FRTOL you have access to various air traffic services but many find that the greatest benefit from having taken the course is the increase in confidence in using the radio, knowing that what they say will be received and understood in accordance with standard aviation practice. You won’t be an airline captain overnight but you will gain satisfaction in your achievement.

One last thing:

There are those that think good RT means talking continuously on the radio. Just think before you transmit:

“G-xxxx, thank you for your service, sir, have a good day”,


“G-xxxx, vacating runway 26” (without having been requested to do so),


Reading back items that do not require readback.

Someone else may be waiting for you to finish before they can make their (possibly more important) call.

© Mike McLoughlin 2013

Mike is a FRTOL Examiner and runs regular 2 day courses at Chatteris.