That does that even mean? A type rating? There is a big misunderstanding about pilots and the aircraft they can fly. So today I’ll try to explain a little bit about the different aircraft and how it works.
To start a pilot has to get a license like a car license. With a car license, you are allowed to drive all cars but you are for example not allowed to drive on a racetrack. With planes, it works more or less the same but we need additional licenses for different planes.
If I get the smallest license it is called a PPL (private pilot license) with this you are allowed to fly almost every Single-engine piston aircraft like the Cessna 172. From there on you can get an addition to fly a multi-engine aircraft. For these kinds of aircraft mostly a checkout has to be done to fly it. A checkout means that you fly with someone who is familiar with the aircraft and will check if you are flying good enough to take that plane (simply said).
Then now you understand this we can talk about a size bigger. All pilots that fly you to your holiday destination have a pilot license, CPL (commercial pilot license) or ATPL (Airline transport pilot license) With both of them are you allowed to fly big jets but for every bigger aircraft, you need a different type rating. This is a special course where they train you for a specific aircraft.
The type rating consists of 3 parts, a theoretical part, a practical part, and landings. In the theoretical part, you have to study your ass off and is often seen as the most difficult part of being a pilot. Here you have to master all subjects that they give you and you learn all systems that you have on board and the procedures that are for that type of aircraft. A Boeing737 and Airbus a320 are 2 planes most flown and used by airlines out of 2 different factories and in the cockpit completely different so for pilots we have to to a completely different course.
On the left, you can see the Airbus cockpit and on the right side the Boeing 737 cockpit as you can see there are 2 completely different layouts. And pilots need to completely be familiar with the cockpit ant the becoming procedures of that aircraft that’s why companies give us these posters to train yourself in the theoretical part. Afterward, you will go to a so-called mock-up. A mock-up is a layout of the cockpit from cardboard or on wood. with all the buttons displayed. Its a cheap and good way to get familiar in the cockpit because simulators are expensive.
After finishing your theory and positively finished all exams with + 75% out of 100% score you are allowed to go to the simulator. Here they train you for the procedures and what a pilot must do in case of a failure and the way of communication between 2 pilots inside that particular cockpit. This training is often combined with company procedures so you know exactly what you should do in case something happens in real life. Pilots have to do a lot of sessions in the simulator before they are released on the aircraft. And all training they do in the simulator must have been passed for 100% if you fail 1 item or subject you are not allowed to go to your exam. If you passed everything you can go to the exam. This is mostly a 4-hour session where an examiner will test all your skills on the aircraft and you have to pass this.
After this, you are done with the most difficult part and you are released to fly the aircraft with an examiner do make landings. These landings are to get familiar with the real aircraft and land it. As soon as you finished this you have to send your license to an office where they check all exam papers etc and write down that particular type of aircraft on your license. From this moment you are released and allowed to fly the plane.
You are not done yet. Oh nooooo. From this moment you start the line training. Here a line training captain will show you the things of the aircraft they didn’t teach you in the simulator or in theory. Like how to actively use company procedures and uhm how to set up the fueling system in real life etc etc. After a certain amount of legs (flights) you are released by the line training captain and from that moment on you are allowed to fly with the other pilots.
To keep your type rating valid you have to do a flight exam once a year. And if you fly for a commercial company you have to do more or less the same every other half a year.
You are never done studying if you start flying.
If you have any questions regarding this subject please feel free to ask below.