What is type rating?

Type rating is training for the specific type of airplane you are going to be flying as an airline pilot. So, for example, specific type of Airbus (e.g. A320, A380) or Boeing (B737, B777).

According to law, you need to be “type rated” for every airplane certified for multi-crew operations, for every airplane with jet engines, or for every airplane with maximum take-off weight in excess of 5700 Kg.

Type rating consists of ground school, which is theoretical training, and flight simulator training.

Some of the training modules you might find during your ground school training:

  • CRM module focused on crew cooperation
  • Standard operating procedures (theory + mock-up training)
  • Technical module for aircraft systems
  • Safety, security and emergency training (firefighting and smoke training, ditching trained in a swimming pool, dangerous goods, terrorist attack issues)
  • Ground training can also include an ATC station visit and so on

Theoretical training is completed with exams on each of the modules. Theory coverage may differ from airline to airline, but usually takes no more than one month to complete.

Simulator training consists of:

  • Fixed base simulator training, mostly to brush up standard operating procedures
  • Full motion simulator training, to train manual handling skills (actual flying)

It takes approximately 50 hours to complete all the simulator training, which can be usually done in 1 – 2 months. In most companies, cadets are scheduled to fly 4 or 5 hour blocks of simulator sessions. Sessions are usually rostered for a few days in a row, followed by a few days OFF. Then the pattern is repeated.

Training always takes place in certified simulators, which has a big influence on type rating cost.

It’s necessary to mention that most of the simulator training is about emergency and non-normal situations. For example, various engine malfunctions and single engine operation, stall recovery training, terrain escape manoeuvres, emergency descents, loss of hydraulics and much more.

Cadets are assessed all the time during the training and there may be internal company checks in place in different phases of the rating, often called “progress checks”. These are to identify weak areas of the training and may lead to additional sessions.

Type rating is completed with a final skill test, properly called the Licence Skill Test (LST). The duration of this examination may differ from type to type, but usually takes 3 – 5 hours. Assessment of both normal and non-normal situations takes place.

The entire type rating requires a lot of preparation at home. Be prepared to spend many hours studying.

In some airlines type rating may be bundled together with the MCC course. This is the case at Ryanair for example (just for pilots hired in the APC programme).