I managed to pass my ELP test and received a level 5. That means it's valid for 6 years and then I have to do it again.

I would've liked a Level 6, which is valid for life. But given I have no experience at all talking to air traffic controllers, I'll be happy with it.

The reason I don't have that experience is that, in general, ULM (Ultralights) in Belgium are not allowed to fly in controlled airspace, unless permitted. So it's not really on our training schedule nor in our exam.

The ELP Exam

Before starting, we received 20 multiple choice questions. After that, we went into a room with the examiners who scored the multiple choice questions and "simulate" an ATC conversation scenario.

The Multiple Choice Questions

The questions focussed on the correct phraseology in radio communication, and regulations around it.

Some question I remember were: "when does a pilot use the word take-off" (only for take-off clearance read-back), "until where do you usually receive a clearance when taxi'ing" (until holding point of the runway), "when you first announce yourself what do you say first" (name of ground station followed by your full call-sign), "what is the squawk for a radio failure" (7600), ...

I got 16/20. The following questions I didn't get right:

Altitude pronunciation (1250 ft)

Q: How do you pronounce the altitude 1250 ft

My answer: one-thousand-two-hundred-five-zero feet

Correct answer: one-two-five-zero feet

The reason for my answer is that it was closest to how you normally pronounce altitudes. For example, 1400 ft is pronounced as: one-thousand-four-hundred feet

It seemed to be to be the least confusing way to say it. But normally we don't pronounce 50 feet and round to hundred feet. But clearly, that wasn't correct.

Radio failure procedure

Q: What do you do when you are inside a CTR and your radio fails completely

My answer: land as soon as possible and contact ATC by the most expeditious means

Correct answer: land as soon as possible on the nearest uncontrolled airfield, report ATC by the most expeditious means and close the flightplan.

What got me confused here was "uncontrolled airfield", as I didn't think it was necessary for the airfield to be uncontrolled to land. But for a radio failure (you can still fly) I was later told you must leave the controlled airspace ASAP and land at an uncontrolled airfield.

Additionally, I could've paid more attention to the close the flightplan part of the answer. Which is absolutely necessary and missing from the answer I picked.

ELP Mandatory

Q: When is an ELP certificate mandatory

My answer: always

Correct answer: when flying in controlled airspace

The reason I picked always was that, by my understanding, if I'm in uncontrolled airspace (class G) but contact "Brussels Information" (FIS) I must have an ELP certificate, because they are an official radio station.

But technically it's only needed if you fly in controlled airspace.


Q: What does the term ROGER mean?

My answer: I received and understood your message

Correct answer: I received your message

Contrary to what we normally understand with "ROGER", it does not indicate you have understood the message but only that you have received a message.

It's a bit of a dubious question since the term ROGER shouldn't be used anymore anyway. But they leave it in because the term is still used. That said, I'm sure everyone is using it to mean it's understood. But, now we know!

The Simulated ATC Conversation

Next up was a simulated flight from HASSELT to THEUX, but crossing the CTR of Liege via "Romeo" and "Oscar".

I had to contact Brussels Information and announce my departure, announce intentions, etc ... set QNH.

Then I had to contact Liege Approach and cross the CTR. So I announce myself: "REQUEST CROSS CTR" etc etc ...

(I may write this down in more detail some time).

I had to be honest, I was doing very bad at listening to the ATC guy sitting next to me. After first contact I failed to hear the abbreviated callsign they gave me so I kept saying my full callsign. Apparently I also didn't read back the QNH correctly even though I wrote it down correctly ...

When I was "in the middle of the CTR" I had an oil pressure drop. I had to announce an URGENCY (PAN PAN, PAN PAN, PAN PAN) and request an immediate landing at Liege.

I received clearance for both runways 23R and 23L at my discretion. On my read-back I failed to read back the word "CLEARED". So I read back "23R / 23L" but I should've said: "CLEARED FOR LANDING 23R / 23L".

Then English Conversation

After that, I had a conversation in English in general. Introducing myself etc ... just to show if I master English.

This wasn't really an issue, as I do this all the time at work anyway.

Level 5

Finally, I received Level 5. The best you can have is Level 6 and the worst is Level 4. Anything less and you failed.

Level 4 is valid for four years, Level 5 for 6 years. And Level 6 is valid for life.

They told me that, if I had waited to do the test until after my radio exam in Brussels and some more practical experience, that I probably would've gotten a 6. So that's my aim for next time!

Running Costs

That exam wasn't free at all, a whopping € 157

So good thing I didn't fail!