A self-sponsored Type Rating Course may be a great way to accelerate your career and land you a job with the airlines. We have provided the basics you need to know before you start.
A Type Rating Course is required to gain privileges to operate a specific aircraft type. This rating is added to a qualified pilot’s license. All aircraft over 12,500 lbs and turbojet-powered airplanes require a type rating specific to the aircraft.
Historically, a pilot would only pay for the basic pilot training up to a commercial pilot level. After becoming a qualified pilot, he or she would often work for a few years either teaching other pilots to fly in small aircraft or operate freight and passenger services in smaller (typically propeller equipped) aircraft with a local or regional airline, to gain the experience needed to join one of the major airlines. Corporate pilots too would often have their type rating training paid for by their employer before flying a new aircraft type.
You can still follow this path, and there are airlines and corporate companies who will pay for your aircraft type rating upon employment, but many require a decent amount of flying experience before they will consider you. This can range from 500 hours to several thousand flying hours; experience that can take you many years to gain.
How is Type Rating Training Conducted?
Most type rating courses are done in a simulator, combined with classroom study to learn procedures and aircraft systems. For some smaller aircraft you can complete the course in the actual aircraft and many countries require that you complete your first type rating course with a small portion of the training completed in the aircraft, even for large aircraft. The length of the course varies depending on aircraft type and can be from one week for some small business jets, up to 6-8 weeks for large complex airliners.
Choosing a Type Rating Course
If you don’t have a specific aircraft type you wish to train for, here is some general advice to help you choose one.
Find the airline first - If there is a particular airline you would like to fly for, research the aircraft types they operate. If they accept self-sponsored candidates, you should first check to see if they partner with a specific training provider. Many airlines require that you go through their selection process first and complete the training with their approved Type Rating Training Organization (TRTO). Most TRTOs also market the airlines they are associated with.
Aircraft specific - Before you commit to a Type Rating Course in a specific aircraft type you should do some research to see how many aircraft of this type are operated in the area where you plan to work. This is particularly important if your dream is to fly corporate business jets, as some aircraft types are more popular in certain areas of the world than others. Choosing a type rating for an aircraft flown by many operators will allow you more flexibility and offer you a better chance when searching for a job.
It is also a good idea to contact aircraft operators you are interested in working for before you commit to paying for a type rating. With some luck you may even be able to get a job offer on the condition that you sponsor your own type rating course.
Is a Type Rating enough to get a job?
Maybe. But flight experience in the aircraft type you are rated on will definitely help. Because the course only gives you the basic knowledge to legally operate the aircraft, many companies require a minimum number of flight hours in the aircraft you are rated in before they will consider you for employment. 200-500 hours on type is generally considered a minimum, so when you choose a type rating course you should also think about how you will gain flight experience after you complete the training. Many training providers have agreements with airlines to offer a short-term contract upon completion of the course and your flight experience will make it easier to find a job if your short-term contract is not extended.
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