A Type Rating is easily said, literally a rating on a specific type of Aircraft. After completing the integrated pilot training you are qualified to earn money while flying a single- and multi engine aircraft. This sounds great but the commercial pilot license with a frozen ATPL is simply not enough to fly commercial aircrafts which are operated by two pilots at all times. For this, you need another training based on the aircraft you are going to fly. This extra training is called a Type Rating. Quite some people ask me what a Type Rating is and what the course looks like. I completed the Boeing 737-800 Type Rating recently and this is my story.
I started the Type Rating on the Boeing 737-800 at CAE Amsterdam in July. The Type Rating is divided in different sectors and it starts with an intro week. The intro week is a busy week where you learn a lot about safety and the business itself. For example; emergency procedures and customer service. A lot of tests need to be completed during this week and they expect a score of at least 90% in order to pass. Swimming with a life vest on, extinguishing fires and cabin related exercises, everything is included! Of course you also get to know the other people of your Type Rating course, which can make or brake the entire experience.
Are you a teamplayer?
I was really lucky with my teammates. Normally in a big group of people there is always at least one person which does not fit in the group that well, right? I would not lie if I said that my group, of 12 people, was absolutely great. We all helped each other during the course and everyone was so incredibly nice and willing to learn. All of us were there with one goal: to pass the Type Rating successfully and as soon as possible, which was amazing to experience. As I said, the people can make or brake your course. With this I mean that it is really important to be able to get along with these people since you will see them almost 24/7 for a couple of months.
In the beginning of the course everyone gets a sim(ulator) partner. This is someone else in the course with whom you have to fly all the simulator sessions. Together you have to study and you have to pass the simulator sessions. My sim partner is from the Czech Republic and we get along very well. Every day we studied in the mock-up (see picture) to practice, over and over again. It were long, exhausting days and nights. Everything to get the job done, of course. It was literally like this: eat, sleep, study, sim and repeat. No social life whatsoever, so be prepared if you are starting a course soon! As you might understand this person is very important, you will learn from his or her mistakes and the other way around. If you are able to choose your sim partner, then choose well! 🙂
The first 3 weeks of the Type Rating are ground school. Sitting in a classroom while instructors/engineers explain all aircraft systems. They teach us about performance, mass and balance, SOP’s, safety and a lot more. This technical part contains a lot of tests and checks. Around 3 or 4 every week and they expect a high standard. At CAE Amsterdam the instructors were all very kind and knowledgable people so make sure you ‘use’ them. Sounds strange maybe but you know what I mean right?
Fixed Base Simulator
After the completion of ground school you continue to the 12 Fixed Base sessions followed by the Full Flight sessions. The first sessions start with a complete setup from the gate to the runway and after the 4th session they already expect you to know how to fly different approaches by using the correct SOP’s .The sessions also include all kinds of different failures. Engine failure at V1, engine fire at V1, aborted take offs, pilot incapacitation during the most inconvenient time, rapid depressurization and a lot more. So be prepared for this guys/girls!
Full Flight Simulator
There are 7 Full Flight sessions and in these lessons you will learn how to land the aircraft with a good landing technique, get used to high crosswind landings and one engine inoperative landings (OEI) with Flaps 15. In the end you will learn how to fly in low visibility and practice maneuvers. You will learn how to handle a TCAS TA & RA, GPWS warning, recover from wind shear and upset situations. As you can see there are many things covered in one session and therefore it is not that hard to get behind. Every new session they expect you to know and to reproduce the previous sessions well, which can be demanding. I know this sounds terrible but as long as you study hard and set your priorities you will have no problem.
License Skills Test (LST)
The final exam of the Type Rating is called the LST (License Skills Test). Basically this is a session where you take off and have an engine failure or fire. You will get other failures during the flight and you will have to show different approaches with one of them being OEI. You will need to show an aborted take off followed by an evacuation. Maybe this sounds like it is only about handling the aircraft but it is not! This test is also about working together as a team (and not competitors to show the instructor who knows his or her SOP’s the best…!), communication, decision making, situational awareness and to get the passengers, cabin crew and ATC informed about the situation at the right time. Everything to land the aircraft safely. The instructor sits in the back and says nothing by the way. He will leave you completely alone so if you expect help from him you can wait a very very long time haha!
There is this extra session after the LST just before you can go to Base Training. This is called PSCT training and it is the same as your base training but on the simulator. In this sessions they concentrate on flying circuits and on the correct landing techniques. When this is completed they schedule you for Base training on the real Boeing 737-800!
The final part
After completing the Base Training, the final step of the Type Rating, a lot of paperwork and administrative tasks were awaiting us. In order to have the Type Rating endorsed to my license I had to visit the civil aviation authorities in Dublin, Ireland. The entire thing was concluded with a wing ceremony at the headquarters of my company.
Looking back on it all, I had a very exciting time with lots of stressful moments. I learned a lot, gained a couple of friends and met very interesting people. It was hard at times but definitely do-able with the right attitude and motivation. Thank you for taking the time to read my story!
The story contains a lot of words and phrases you might not understand nor be familiar with.. I am happy to explain it all in depth in the comment section below 🙂 Besides this I am very keen to learn about your own experiences regarding this subject. This way I might be able to write another article with more details for pilots and aviation enthusiasts that still need to complete their own Type Rating.