The Complete Guide To Becoming A Pilot (5): Type Rating & Beyond
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A Type Rating: In simple terms, it means that you specialise in flying a specific type of aircraft. You undergo approx 2 to 3 months of training - more or less - depending on where you do it and which type.

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This is the third article of a series named "The Complete Guide To Becoming A Pilot".

If you haven't read the previous article, then please click here.

If you want to find all the articles in this guide, then please click here.

Ideally, you want to do your type rating with an airline as doing it yourself is too costly and not practical. 

In an airline type rating, you get trained according to their procedures. 

If you choose the self-sponsored route, you get trained on doing standard procedures, which may differ from one airline to another. So as an inexperienced first officer, you might get very confused when you join an airline at first. Also, keep in mind that having a type rating doesn't necessarily guarantee you a job.

A Type Rating is split into three phases:

Theory - 1st Phase Of Your Type Rating:

The First Phase Of Type Rating - CBT Training

For around three weeks or so worth of CBTs (Computer Based Training) and classrooms, you will finish it by doing an exam at the end.

  • It's not intense as ATPLs depending on which CBT you do and how much time you have.
  • If you are doing a 737 Type Rating, I would highly recommend you get an app called "The 737 Handbook" it's worth it. It does fit quite nicely with your type rating program, but don't resort to too much external software; just choose one or two high-quality ones and stick with them.
  • If you are stuck, the first thing to do is to re-watch the CBT; if you are still stuck, refer to the manuals (FCOM, FCTM, AFM ..). You are still stuck? Go ahead and ask your instructor during the next classroom.

Simulator - 2nd Phase Of Your Type Rating:

This is The Second Phase of your Type Rating - Simulator Training

It involves doing around 40 hours of simulator time in a full flight simulator. You will finish this phase by passing your skill test.

  • Some airlines or ATOs might have an additional phase called IPT (Integrated Procedures Trainer). It's similar to a home cockpit and is meant to teach you procedures only.
  • Chair-fly a LOT with your simulator partner. Ask for mock-ups from your airline or ATO and practice procedures again and again at your hotel or apartment. The last and worst thing that can happen during a Simulator session is not knowing your procedures well upfront. You will waste valuable time learning procedures instead of doing the most important thing you are meant to be doing inside a simulator, and it's learning how to fly the aircraft! And that's on top of looking unprofessional and underprepared, which affects your grades.
  • Continuously refresh your systems knowledge. It's a lot of info to grasp, but at least know the foundations, such as limitations, and have a visual diagram of every system in your mind.
  • Memorise and chair-fly your emergency procedures; it's what you will be doing most of the time!
  • The rudder will be your best friend during this simulator phase! So don't skip leg day!

Base Training – 3rd Phase Of Your Type Rating:

The Third Phase of Your Type Rating - Base Training

The final and the most exciting part of your type rating, getting your hands on the real aircraft, you get to fly six circuits doing touch and go's with two instructors.

Trust me, you can get the most realistic simulator, but flying the actual thing is a different feeling; you probably would cry after finishing – lol!

  • Nothing much to prepare at this phase as most prep is already done. However, you still need to chair-fly in the meantime before your flight, practising circuits and knowing your power settings.
  • You will be with all of your classmates and not just your Sim partner in the aircraft, and everyone will need to do six circuits; it will be a long tiring day, so be prepared for that.
  • Enjoy! Really. Just enjoy and have fun! And of course, take a lot of pictures!!

Paperwork - Your Pilot Licence:

Pilot Paperwork

You will be officially a type rated pilot at the end of all of this! But before that, organise all the documents you need and send them to your CAA to get your new licence with the new type rating! So as I mentioned in another article, get into the habit of scanning every document you get since the start of your flight school as you might need them later on! Your documents as a pilot are precious to take care of them.

Line Training: Company Specific

Line Training - Flying an actual aircraft

Congrats on passing your type rating!! And welcome on board a real aircraft doing real operation with actual passengers relying on you. 

This phase is approximately a month-long - more or less - My previous employer, for example, stipulated 40 sectors of flying. The duration will depend on many factors such as Schedule, line training captain's availability and fleet availability. 

You will finish this phase by passing your line training check, which leads you to get released to fly as a First Officer with 'Normal' captains.

Quick facts about line training:

  • Bear in mind this is the last phase of your pilot training; you should be comfortable with the procedures and systems by now. I can't emphasise how important it is to know your company procedures inside-out!
  • You will fly during this phase with line training captains and not 'normal' captains.
  • You will do day to day operations.
  • For your first 15 sectors, you will have an experienced first officer sitting in the jump seat as your "Safety Pilot". A good one will show you all the paperwork you need to fill in and give you tips and tricks. Please don't be shy to ask them anything you want to; they are meant to be there to help!
  • You will always fly as three persons in the cockpit; you, The instructor captain & an additional experienced First Officer called: "Safety Pilot". As the name suggests, they will be there for safety reasons and to help you. 
  • To release the safety pilot, you will have to pass a particular scenario depending on the airline, I'm guessing. (Mine was captain incapacitation). The captain will play dead, and you take control of the aircraft, radio & and everything else and show that you can handle it yourself and land. If you are successful, you will get rid of your safety pilot and fly as two persons on your next flight. Quite an experience!
  • You will be tested on your procedural & aircraft knowledge during the flight.

After you pass your line check, you are officially released to fly as a First Officer. At this stage, you are allowed to create an Instagram where you post all of your pictures and adventures and name it "Influencer Pilot - Insert Your Name Here -" – Kidding!

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