Pilot Theory Courses

The technical nature of aviation means you have to be able to retain what you are taught in the classroom, not just pass an exam. The theory courses conducted by the college aim at providing an in depth understanding of the subject material.

Each subject that is studied is examined by the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).  To pass the course, students must gain 70% or better in each of the exams conducted by Aviation Services Ltd.  Each subject is examined at the completion of the appropriate period of study.

Full time classes are held for all licences. Classes commence at 0830 and finish at 1600 hours, Monday - Friday. Regular progress tests and practice exams are used to help students, and the instructors monitor each persons progress.  It is important that you complete all study and homework assignments given by your instructors to ensure your progress and understanding of each subject.  Students are encouraged to ask questions and participate in class.  Instructors are always willing to give you extra help if you need it.

Both PPL and CPL intakes commence in February, May and August each year.  Please ensure that you apply at least two months prior to the start of your selected course.

The following subjects are taught at Nelson Aviation College:

Aviation Law

Full knowledge of Legal responsibilities are essential for any pilot whether they are a recreational flier or a top professional. Courses cover all aspects of this subject up to the level required by airline pilot.


Sound Navigational techniques are an essential skill for any pilot. The techniques we teach our students will enable them to navigate anywhere in the world.

Technical Subjects

The technical subjects deal with a variety of areas such as how piston and turbine engines operate, how the aircraft instruments, gauges and systems are designed, and how aircraft are built.

A study of the numerous technical systems that the pilot operates daily gives a good base of knowledge for pilots pursuing a career in either general aviation or flying wide bodied jets.

Principles of Flight

A thorough understanding of this subject is as interesting as it is important, We study the principles of flight relating to a diverse range of aircraft from Tiger Moths to modern supersonic aircraft. Detailed studies of both the theory and practical application of performance management are introduced at all licence levels.


A comprehensive understanding of the weather is of great importance to flight safety. Recent history has shown that limited knowledge of this subject, combined with the Human Factor element has contributed to many aircraft accidents.

Human Factors

Statistics show that Pilot Error is the most common cause of air accidents. Areas of study include: Aeronautical Decision Making, Judgement, Crew Resource Management, Aviation Medicine and Communications. This subject is taught in the classroom and in the air at all levels of training.