Training Programme

Training is carried out in accordance with the training systems described in the GNZ Manual of Approved Procedures (MOAP). The prime source of study material resides in GNZ’s online Flight Training Programme, which came into effect in June 2020.  Log into the Flight Training Programme here.

During the transition to this new training programme, the old system may be used until June 2022. For the old syllabus sheets go to this page.

Transition procedures for existing QGP and Silver Badge holders are set out in the MOAP at page 39, paragraph 7.  For more information, see the following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).  For any further questions, contact the National Operations Officer.

New Training Programme FAQs

Q: Why do we need a new training programme?

A:  Prior to the year 2000 the training programme (as far as QGP) consisted of 31 topics. In the year 2000 this was expanded to 197 topics, but supporting notes were only provided for 20 of these topics. Since then the project has remained unfinished. In 2007 the GNZ Executive resolved to have the programme completed within 2 years by preparing additional fact sheets and training videos, but no progress was made.

In the new online programme the number of topics has been reduced to a more manageable 112 while increasing the final qualification to match the standard of a Glider Pilot Licence or its equivalent in Australia, UK and Europe.

To be fair, the existing list of training topics was able to be used as a guide by experienced instructors, but new instructors struggled because of the absence of support material, definitions and explanations. This meant that training standards varied greatly between Clubs, and indeed between individual instructors. The new online programme addresses these issues by defining each topic in plain language, stating the pass standard and providing specific support material for each topic. This should result in an increased standard of teaching and learning at all clubs that offer flight training, and make it much easier to train new instructors.

Q:  How can I obtain a copy of this new training programme?

A:  The programme is available for free on the internet.  The internet address is  The Gliding NZ programme does require you to create and use a login account, but rest assured that your email address will not be used to try and sell you other stuff. It sits in a learning management system called Moodle.

There is no book or printed copy, but you can print off your own paper copy of the key documents (or have someone else make them for you) from inside the Moodle resource.  To make this easy there are printable files near the front of each section for the Training Record and the Topic Headings.

Q:  What exactly is Moodle?

A:  Moodle is a “learning management system” that is free to use and has been widely adopted in schools, polytechnics and universities to present course material.  It is a convenient tool for placing material on a web page so that it can be easily accessed.  Think of it as a great big filing cabinet full of useful documents and notes.  Most younger people who have recently been students will be quite familiar with it.

Q:  What is the structure of the programme?

A:  The programme is divided into 5 major sections, based on the following achievements:
      – Solo Pilot
      – Soaring Pilot
      – Cross-Country Pilot (XCP)
      – Task Pilot
      – Alpine Pilot

Q:  What are the main goals of this revised programme?

A:  Here are some:
      – to improve the quality and efficiency of flight training so that pilots make better progress
      – to get more pilots flying cross country and participating in GNZ sanctioned contests
      – to engender self-responsibility and have pilots take more initiative for their own development
      – to enable pilots to prepare in advance for a training day at the airfield
      – to provide support material for new instructors, and guidance for assessing pilot performance
      – to promote alpine flying and encourage NZ pilots to explore the Southern Alps

Q:  What exactly do you mean by self-responsibility?

A:  Glider pilots learn to fly in two different stages.  At first the learning is very didactic, meaning that it consists largely of giving and receiving instructions.  This works quite well in early training, but as the pilot gains knowledge and experience this style becomes less relevant.  At some point we expect the pilot to confidently head off on a cross-country adventure, or take part in a contest.  This requires a lot of initiative and self-direction, not to mention prior preparation.

We know that many pilots fail to make this transition.  Flying beyond gliding distance can be very daunting at first.  So the logic is to teach (and indeed require) self-preparation and self-responsibility right from the very first flight.  If this works as intended then we should expect pilots to transition smoothly into cross-country flight without hesitation.  This has certainly happened in the trials at the Wellington club.

Q: Is an XCP equivalent to a QGP?

A:  No it is not. The XCP has one further step. The QGP is roughly equivalent to a “cross-country clearance”, but demonstrated cross-country flight has not been required. This has caused an awkward situation when a PPL(G) was issued to pilots who needed a Glider Pilot Licence to fly in another country. Specifically, the GPL or its equivalent in Australia, UK and Europe is only issued after the pilot has demonstrated competency in cross-country flight, typically requiring a flight of 50-200 km depending on the country. The XCP now requires a flight between two points 50 km apart, which is less stringent than the FAI Silver Distance and should be achievable from most gliding sites in NZ. It brings NZ’s training and certification standards into line with those in the countries listed above.

Q: Can I use the XCP rating overseas?

A:  Not directly, because the XCP is issued by Gliding NZ, not by the national civil aviation authority in NZ. It may not be recognised in other countries for licence purposes. However, the holder of an XCP can apply to the NZ CAA for a Private Pilot Licence (Glider) and could reasonably expect to be issued with such a licence without any further conditions. In some countries a Class 2 Medical Certificate would be required to exercise the privileges of a PPL(G).

Q: Is Solo Pilot the same as A Certificate?

A:  Broadly speaking, yes. The top-level structure of the training programme has not changed significantly, but there are minor differences. The first solo flight is always undertaken under highly-sheltered conditions, and is a major step in the development of pilot self-responsibility. It is also a highly motivating achievement, so needs to be achieved efficiently as well as safely.

First Solo does not indicate that the pilot is “competent” in anything more than a very basic set of skills. Some competencies are no longer required prior to first solo, such as full spin recovery and cross-wind landings, because these would not be exercised in early solo flights. Nonetheless these are still demonstrated prior to first solo, and are developed and consolidated immediately afterward. The other difference is that the first solo flight is the one that is recognised – three solo flights are not required as for the A-Cert.

Q: Is Soaring Pilot the same as B Certificate?

A:  Broadly speaking, yes. But it is slightly more challenging because a few additional exercises have been added, such as the Lazy Eight manoeuvre, to develop and assess precision handling skills. There is also further consolidation of launching, spinning and flying the circuit, and the standards are somewhat higher than may have been acceptable in the past. It is important to note that a pilot cannot really be considered in any way “competent” until completion of the Soaring Pilot section, at which point they become eligible to transition to a single seater. A number of incidents – some fatal – have occurred in the past because pilots have spent too little time and effort in this section before transitioning to a single seater. There is guidance in the programme regarding the number of solo flights and solo flying hours required in a two seater before converting to a single.

Q: Why change from the A Cert/B Cert/QGP system?

A:  Firstly, as explained above, the basic structure has barely changed. However, the names of the sections have been changed to better capture the nature of the achievement. Precise use of plain language is always important in a learning environment, and the use of jargon or terminology where the meaning is concealed is not helpful. Some names may have been changed but the underlying skeleton is the same.

The second reason is that there were far too many checkboxes, and some of the checkbox names were difficult to understand, particularly concerning “what counts as a pass”. Certain topics appeared very similar to other topics, or topics were repeated. For example: lookout/scanning, collision avoidance and right of way/etiquette each had a separate check box, and most pilots (and indeed instructors) found the difference between these items far too subtle to detect, particularly when it came to individually signing them off. There was no further guidance available on how to assess competency with this kind of item.

Q: Do I need an Alpine Pilot rating to fly from Omarama?

A:  It is important to note that after XCP the learning model changes from being instructor-supervised (and quite structured) to a peer-to-peer learning model and largely self-assessed. The pilot needs to have learned self-responsibility by now, which is why this discipline is introduced right from the first flight.

If you are a North Island or overseas pilot thinking of competing at Omarama – especially at Nationals level – then you would be well advised to understand all that is contained in the Alpine Pilot section, otherwise you could be rather frightened by what you encounter, or perhaps come to a grizzly end. Perhaps future Contest Directors will make this a requirement, but that is not the case at present.

Q: Do I need a Task Pilot rating to fly in a contest?

A:  No, you do not. But in order to prepare yourself adequately for contest flying you would be well advised to study, digest and practice all the skills and knowledge that is contained in this section. That’s why it’s online. The reasoning in the previous question also applies here.

Q: What about Aerobatic Training and Ratings?

A:  There is no mention of aerobatic flight in the GNZ Strategic Plan, which is the top-level document on which the whole programme has been based. There also seems to be a dwindling of critical mass in terms of pilots achieving and continuing to exercise their aerobatic ratings, but the structure is still in place and was recently revised. If the demand increases then we could certainly review and expand the resource material at some point in the future.

Q: If I have a QGP but no proof of a cross-country flight would I qualify for the XCP rating?

A:  No. The XCP rating requires all topics in the existing QGP syllabus to be signed off, including a flight test, plus evidence of a flight of 50 km between two points. The minimum requirements are spelled out clearly in the programme. When you have proof of a compliant flight you can apply to the awards officer using the new Gliding NZ form OPS-03A: Conversion of QGP to Cross-Country Pilot Certificate. All pilots with a Silver Distance flight on record will automatically be accredited with an XCP rating because the Silver Distance requirements are an acceptable proof.

Q: Can I obtain and exercise the privileges of a Passenger Rating prior to completing my XCP Certificate?

A:  Yes, you can, but only if you meet and comply with the full set of conditions spelled out in the programme under Exercising Passenger Rating pre XCP. These conditions were required by CAA, because carriage of passengers normally requires a licence. Basically, you must have completed all the XCP topics except for the 50 km cross-country flight, including a flight test for passenger rating and a solo out-landing in a field (which can be pre-selected for the exercise). You also need specific approval from the Duty Instructor for each flight. The DI may require a check flight on the day due to weather, currency or other reason.

Q: Is my existing passenger rating still valid?

A:  Yes. All existing ratings remain, and can be exercised according to the conditions under which they were granted. But new ratings must meet the new requirements.

Q: I have completed my QGP training and I was about to apply for the QGP certificate. What extra do I need to do for an XCP?

A:  You will need to complete a solo flight between two points 50 km apart, and satisfy your CFI that you have achieved this. That’s it. The turn-points do not need to be declared in advance, and a trace captured on Top Hat or XC Soar would be acceptable evidence. You do not need to land out on this flight, but you do need to be prepared for this because you would normally travel beyond gliding distance back to your launch point.

Q: I am an instructor but I don’t yet qualify for an XCP. Can I still instruct?

A: Yes. Existing instructors may continue to exercise their existing privileges. However, applicants for new instructor ratings will need to meet all the new requirements.

Q: Has the new training programme been tested and properly reviewed?

A:  Yes. The programme has been vigorously tested and reviewed by a number of parties. It has been trialed by the Wellington club in parallel with the existing syllabus for two seasons, and underwent a number of upgrades during that period. This club operates 7 days a week in summer, provides both aerotow and winch launching, and has the benefit of hosting several highly-qualified European and British visiting instructors who have all had input into the programme. In addition the programme has been subjected to an internal Gliding NZ review conducted by the staff at Glide Omarama, plus an external review by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Q: For how long can we continue with the old syllabus?

A:  The old syllabus can be used for two years until June 2022. There are two ways for trainee pilots to change from the old to the new during this transition period. The first option would be to complete the section they were working through (A-Cert, B-Cert, etc) and then start the next section in the new programme (To Soaring Pilot, to Cross-Country Pilot). The second option would be for an instructor to credit the topics of the new programme with those topics that have already been signed off under the old programme, repeating any exercises if there was any doubt that the pass standards had been met. Then continue with the new programme.

Q.  During the transition period if I complete the A Cert or B Cert requirements under the older syllabus will I be awarded an A or B Certificate or will it be a Solo or Soaring Pilot Certificate ?

A.  If you complete the A Cert requirements you will be awarded a Solo Pilot Certificate.  If you complete the B Cert requirements plus make a solo soaring flight of 90 minutes duration you will be awarded a Soaring Pilot Certificate.

Q: Are sample exams still available?

A.  Yes. The old sample (mock) exams for QGP have been moved to the new training programme under “Getting to Cross Country Pilot” > “Study Course and Examinations” as they are still relevant to the achievement of XCP. 

Q: What happens to the old Instructor Manual?

A:  The Instructor Manual has not been kept up to date since it was issued 20 years ago, and has always suffered from the absence of illustrations due to copyright constraints. Many explanations are very detailed, and recreational pilots no longer seem to have the appetite for studying in such detail. The content in the IM has been split in half. The parts which need to be understood by the pilot are now published in a Pilot’s Manual in the new programme. The parts that pertain to the teaching and assessment of a particular topic are being assembled into an Instructor Manual on a topic-by-topic basis, and these documents will be added to the online resource.

Q: What if there are mistakes in the programme or points I don’t agree with?

A:  One of the advantages of web-based information is that it can easily be improved without requiring reprinting of manuals. On the other hand, the training programme is a controlled document, as required by CAA, and changes cannot be made without proper review and authorisation. The rules around permitted changes are spelled out in the MOAP. In brief, change requests from clubs will be logged in the Document Control section upon receipt, then reviewed by an independent panel once a year at the end of summer. Changes that are approved by this panel will be submitted to CAA for acceptance, and if accepted will be incorporated and promulgated to clubs before the start of the next summer season.

Q: Will there be training in the use of the new syllabus?

A:  Yes. Assistance is available, and Gliding NZ has included the cost of support in its annual budget. The National Operations Officer and other people experienced with the programme will be available to visit clubs, or to hold interactive seminars over Zoom if this is the preferred format.

Q: What happens if a trainee pilot shows up without having done any preparation?

A:  This issue has been occasionally encountered during the trial of the programme. Some trainees preferred to let the instructor “do all the work”, so to speak, and would not study the online material in advance, even when urged to do so. It was only when instructors refused to fly with pilots who had not done any preparation that the message really sank home.

No preparation = no flying. We also noticed that trainees who studied the topic before arriving at the airfield were able to make quicker progress, and that training was more efficient and effective.

Q: In the Alpine Pilot section there is an item “Attend Hypobaric Chamber Course”. Is this compulsory?

A:  Nothing in the Task Pilot and Alpine Pilot sections is compulsory. They are simply guides to self-study and provide a rapid path to improving competency by identifying relevant topics and pointing you to the best printed materials and videos. The Hypobaric Chamber course is extremely valuable and highly desirable, because not everything you need to know about oxygen can be learned by reading a book. You really need to experience hypoxia under controlled conditions to fully appreciate how serious it is. Unfortunately chamber courses are not always available in NZ for glider pilots, but if you get a chance to go on one, do take it!

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