2021 Syllabus

In 2018 the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued an amendment to Part-FCL (the rule book for pilot licensing) detailing new theoretical knowledge Learning Objectives.  The National Authorities and the training industry were given until 2020 to prepare.

Timescales for introduction of the new syllabus

The introduction of exams based on the new syllabus (ECQB 2021) has been delayed a number of times, but most, if not all EASA National Authorities now have them as an option for candidates. EASA has allowed National Authorities to set their own timetables for the introduction within certain boundaries.  Unless these are extended, the old examinations must be withdrawn by 31st January 2022.  As candidates are usually permitted 18 months to complete an examination series, this means there will be a cut-off date after which a candidate starting a new series must follow the new syllabus and sit the ECQB 2021 exams.  Initially, most Authorities had this date set in mid-2020; however, there have been a series of announcements delaying their cut-off dates.  

Differing approach of National Authorities

If you commence a series based on the pre-2021 syllabus before the cut-off date, you can expect your Authority to continue providing the old examinations (ECQB 8) until at least 21st January 2022.  Although they definitely have control over the cut-off date, currently some National Authorities, notably Austria, consider that they do not have the authority to delay the date on which the old exams must be withdrawn.  This means that the period a series of exams based on the old syllabus must be completed may reduce.

The UK CAA deadline has already passed to start a series on the old syllabus (ECQB 8). The CAA recently announced that the final withdrawal of the old exams will be in December 2022.  However, bear in mind that the UK has now left EASA and is, therefore, able to do whatever they please, so this could change.

The Austro Control date for the final withdrawal of the old exams is 31st January 2022. 

Differences between syllabi

The changes between the syllabi are not enormous.  Some defunct topics have been removed, several have switched between subjects and some new material has been introduced.  There is a new subject area called ‘100 KSA’ by EASA.  This introduces the concept of pilot core competencies, which are largely the non-technical attributes that airline pilots are selected, trained, and assessed against.  There is no KSA examination, but your school is required to assess you against the competencies before your final examination.  Although you will not encounter these again in your flight training, pilot core competencies form the basis for multi-crew and airline training, so the background gained in ground school will be useful.

If you want any more advice, please contact us to discuss your circumstances.

Frequently asked questions

I have already started Module 1, but I will not be able to sit my first exam with my chosen Authority before the cut-off date.

This is not a problem. Keep your existing material for Module 1, we will cover both the old and new syllabus during the webinars and online revision courses– it is not a huge difference. Take the ECQB2021 exams when the time comes, and the remainder of your training will be carried out to the ECQB2021 syllabus. Your copy of ATPdigital will be updated for Modules 2 and 3. Make sure you specify the correct syllabus (version 8) when you purchase the later modules, if you have already purchased them contact support@bristol.gs and ask for them to be upgraded.


I have bought the material, but I haven’t really started Module 1. I won’t be able to sit my first exam with my chosen Authority before the cut-off date.

If you have done very little in ATPdigital it may be worthwhile updating your Module 1 content as well to match the new syllabus. The disadvantage is that when we do this you will lose any results you have recorded and need to do those lessons/tests again. Contact support@bristol.gs


Will I have different revision weeks for pre-2021 and ECQB2021 BGS based courses?

No, the differences are not huge, we will point them out during the webinars and also on the revision course.


What about the Webinars – will they cover both syllabi too?

It depends on the subject; the majority will apply to both syllabi but, when a webinar is specific to a pre-2021 or BGS2021 course, we will make that quite clear.


My State of Licence Issue (SOLI) and Exam Authority have different cut-off dates.  Which applies to me?

We believe that it is the cut-off date applied by your Exam Authority; obviously, you will only be able to sit the exams they will allow you to.  However, if you intend starting a series of pre-2021 exams with your chosen Exam Authority after your SOLI’s cut-off date, it may be prudent to check with your SOLI that they will accept the results before you commit.  It is quite likely to be a question they have not considered.


If I want to switch mid-series, what happens?

Austro Control will allow candidates to switch to the new syllabus mid-series. The UK CAA do not allow switching mid-series.


How does Brexit affect this?

If you want an EASA-issued licence, then you will need to sit examinations set by an EASA National Authority such as Austro Control.  Bristol Groundschool has obtained EASA approvals to offer training from the Irish Aviation Authority and is an Austro Control examination centre, so students are able to choose whether they want to sit EASA or UK CAA exams depending on what licence they are looking to achieve.  You are not restricted to Austro Control though; you could train with us then sit your exams with any of the EASA National Authorities.


You say the cut-off dates keep slipping – are they likely to continue doing so?

The dates were slipping to the right even before the COVID-19 crisis.  Whether that is the reason or excuse for further slippage is speculation, as is the likelihood of any further slippage.  It would not be wise to base your plans on the assumption that the cut-off dates will move further right, but that might happen.  However, do also bear in mind that the date for withdrawal of the old exams for some Authorities has currently not changed, effectively shrinking the period available to complete the exams series if you commence it close to the cut-off date.  There comes a point where you might consider it better to sit the new exams anyway.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact  us for further information.

Explore our ATPL (A) course

Explore our ATPL (H) course