* The interior of an A320 simulator *
Since the inception of my blog I have received numerous questions on the topic of pilot training. More recently these questions have begun turning their focus away from the basic training I completed at L3 Airline Academy, towards the airline world. For example, a number of younger aspiring pilots have enquired about what exactly a type rating is and so I thought I'd create this post as a way to answer a number of these questions publicly. I hope you find it useful but if you have any questions which aren't answered here then feel free leave a comment on this post at the bottom of the page.
* easyJet Airbus on final approach *
Before I can discuss what a Type Rating is it's first important to understand the definition of a "rating". To help explain this I'd like you to move your thoughts away from aviation for a moment and ask you to begin thinking about a driving licence. If you live in Britain you can apply for a drivers licence at the age of 17 and must pass a test to prove your competence. At the point of passing you then have your licence for life. However, what if you wanted to be a bus or lorry driver? The authorities would require you to complete additional training and pass further tests.
This additional training and testing is seen in the aviation industry with it's respective ratings. There are several ratings out there and here's just a few:
Each of these ratings permit their holder to carry out additional privileges. For example, a valid Instrument Rating is required for a pilot to fly in weather conditions otherwise prohibitive. As one of L3 Airline Academy's Integrated ATPL (Whitetail) cadets, I left the flight school holding a lifetime Commercial Pilots Licence and both a Multi-Engine Piston Class Rating and an Instrument Rating. These three items combined are referred to as a frozen ATPL.
* A Multi-Engine Class Rating is required to fly a Multi-Engine Aircraft *
My MEP and IR ratings meant I could hire a multi-engine aircraft as a single pilot and subsequently file an Air Traffic Control flight plan flying solely by Instruments should I have needed to. However, unlike the world of driving each of these ratings has it's own validity period and conditions. If the conditions are not met by the ratings expiry date then it becomes necessary for a pilot to re-validate their licence with further testing.
Having taken my CPL skills test over a year ago my MEP rating has since expired. This means that while I have CPL I am unable to hire any aircraft without an instructor present. Having spent a significant amount of money to get my licences, the cost of flying the minimum amount of multi-engine hours in the past year was too prohibitive and subsequently I have allowed it to lapse. Despite the MEP expiring, the all important Instrument Rating - a requirement for any type rating - remains valid until the end of March 2019. Fortunately an Instrument Rating is also renewed as part of the type rating itself so in that sense I'm fortunate to be starting my type rating when I am.
* A type rating is required to fly the Airbus A320 family *
Armed with the knowledge of what an individual rating is, you can probably already guess what a type rating is and in that sense explaining exactly what they are should be simple enough. A type rating is a course of training which typically lasts six to eight weeks and provides a pilot with the knowledge required to operate a given aircraft type. In Europe a type rating is only required for aircraft over a given tonnage whereas in countries such as New Zealand it is also a requirement to attain a type rating on an aircraft as small as the Cessna 172. A type rating is not only for a newly qualified pilot either, for should I move from the Airbus A320 family onto another aircraft such as the A350 or even transition over to a B737 or B787 then it becomes a requirement to complete another type rating on that type of aircraft too.
Here's an outline of exactly what's covered in my type rating for the Airbus A320 family.
Ground School - Two Weeks
Using both classroom teaching and computer based training sessions I will learn the theoretical knowledge for aircraft systems, performance etc as a pre-requisite to moving onto the simulator phase. I will also begin to learn the day-to-day standard operating procedures. While my training is delivered by L3 Airline Academy, the procedures taught will be specific to the easyJet operation and their aircraft options (i.e. CFM engines) - which in turn are in line with Airbus's manufacturer recommendations.
Simulator Phase - Four Weeks (12 x 4 hour sims)
Using a combination of fixed-base and full-motion simulators I will work alongside another easyJet recruit to cover the operation of the Airbus aircraft. This will include the expected start-up, taxi, take-off, landing, shut-down work alongside a strong focus on the "non-normals". Non-normal training sees us exposed to simulated engine failures, bird strikes, etc. Training every pilot for these events ensures that should they ever occur in flight we can remain calm and work through the expected set of procedures to resolve the non-normal situation and more importantly, land safely when required. In other words, if we experience an engine-failure in flight it won't be the first time we'll have ever handled one.
By completing a type rating a commercial pilot will see that aircraft type be added to their licence papers. This then means that the pilot is able to conduct the privileges of their Commercial Pilots Licence at the controls of that aircraft. It will remain valid for one year when it must be re-validated as part of an airlines on-going training program. By completing an Airbus A320 type rating I will be able to pilot any aircraft in that family inclusive of the Airbus A318, A319, A320 and A321. easyJet operate all but the A318, but in Liverpool I will likely only pilot the A319 and A320.
I hope you found this blog post useful and that it has answered any questions you might have had.
If you have any further questions feel free to use the comments section at the bottom of this page.
All the best,