Turbine Pilot

The Next Step

April 1, 2003

Who needs a type rating?

The FAA has decreed that anyone acting as pilot in command of a large aircraft — one with a maximum gross takeoff weight of 12,500 pounds or more — or one powered by turbojet engines (and here it means turbojet in the generic sense, including turbofan, must have a type rating in that aircraft. So, how do you do that? According to the federal aviation regulations (FARs), you need only to log training from a qualified instructor in the maneuvers and procedures found in Part 61. Then you take the type rating checkride, and you're good to go — as far as the FAA is concerned. Your insurance company, however, may not agree with that assessment.

Where do I get one?

Most training for type ratings is given by two organizations. FlightSafety International, with more than 25 learning centers around the world, was the originator of this variety of pilot training. CAE SimuFlite, located in Dallas, is FlightSafety's biggest competitor. Both organizations use Level C and D simulators for training purposes and both are approved by most insurance carriers. In fact, most insurance companies are now insisting on simulator training as a condition of insurance or reinsurance.

Dan Am International Flight Academy/SimCom is a recent entrant into the type-rating arena and has locations in Orlando and Vero Beach, Florida, and Scottsdale, Arizona. (See " Pilot Briefing: Pan Am Graduates Finding Jobs Despite Airline Woes, page 66.) While Pan Am International Flight Academy/SimCom does not use Level C and D simulators, choosing instead to use Level 6 simulators, company officials argue that a hydraulic motion base, which the Level C and D simulators have, is not necessary to good training — a belief that many in the training industry share. Pan Am International Flight Academy/SimCom also boasts insurance approval for its trainees.

What's it like?

If you want a preview of what a type rating checkride includes, refer to the practical test standards booklet for the airline transport pilot (ATP) certificate, which also covers type ratings. A copy is available on AOPA Online ( www.aopa.org/members/files/flttrain/pts_atp1.pdf). If you're seriously contemplating a type rating and you have met the ATP time and experience requirements, you'd do well to take the ATP written. After all, if you are going to have to perform to ATP standards, you might as well get the certificate!

Many pilots mistakenly believe that airplanes that require type ratings are much more complicated than those that don't require a type. Much of this belief comes from the large study manuals provided by training organizations for the ground school portion of the type rating training. Anything requiring a book that thick must be complicated, huh? The truth is that many no-type-rating-required aircraft (the Cessna 340 comes to mind) have systems every bit as complex as those aircraft in the type-rating-required category. It's just that the pilot finally is getting all the information required to really understand the aircraft systems.

Drinking from a fire hose

And understanding the systems is what it's all about. You won't learn how to fly, per se, during type rating training. It's presumed you already have mastered that skill. The ground school portion of the type rating courses is totally devoted to learning the systems in the particular airplane you're being typed in — their normal, abnormal, and emergency operation. You'll go through the descriptions, diagrams, limitations, capacities, temperatures, pressures, checklists, knobs, and switches until your brain is full to overflowing. Then you'll do it again and discuss the interaction of the various aircraft systems. You'll get the "drinking from a fire hose" feeling and wonder if your brain can ever digest all this information. Take heart, it can!

You'll get a chance to practice some of your systems knowledge with sessions in the cockpit procedures trainer (CPT) before you get into the simulator. A CPT can be as simple as cockpit photos and diagrams arranged on a board in the same relative position as in the aircraft, and as complex as an accurate representation of the cockpit environment, complete with knobs, switches, and levers that can be moved and repositioned. Some even have functional radio stacks. No matter what level of detail you encounter, the job of the CPT is to get you familiar with normal, abnormal, and emergency checklists and flows while you move your hands to the position of the associated controls. A couple of CPT sessions will give you a big head start when you do get into the simulator.

Finally, the simulator

At last it's time to enter the simulator — that intimidating piece of computerized machinery operated by a diabolical instructor. One of the first things you need to learn is how to fly a simulator. Now that sounds a bit obvious, but it is a skill that needs to be mastered before you start working with airplane failure scenarios. If you're fighting with the machine, not much transferable learning is going to take place. Generally, simulators are much more pitch sensitive than airplanes, so keep it trimmed up and if the going gets rough — let go! A good sim training program and sim instructor build in this lesson. If not, insist on it.

You'll run through every emergency covered by the official checklist during your simulator training. You'll also probably encounter "high, hot, and heavy" operations as well as wind shear 'nd aircraft pulling out on the runway in front of you when you're on very short final with one engine shut down.

The "ride"

The type-rating checkride itself probably will be anticlimactic after the intense training. The whole oral portion is devoted to aircraft systems. Even if you missed a few questions on the ATP, don't expect to be quizzed on them here as you were for your other ratings. Systems knowledge is the only criteria for this exam. Most of the applicants I have disapproved for type ratings failed on the oral portion of the exam.

During the flight you'll be doing all the standard "prove you can fly this airplane" maneuvers — approaches to stalls, steep turns, emergency descent, instrument approaches, and engine-out maneuvers. You'll do a V 1 cut with the takeoff continued, an aborted takeoff, a single-engine ILS, a single-engine go-around, a landing from a single-engine approach, a circling approach, and an engine-out landing.

The value of being able to do these things in the simulator is apparent, but you may not qualify to take the whole checkride in the simulator. Both you and the simulator must be qualified for that to happen. For its part, the simulator must be certified by the FAA as a Level C or D sim. For your part, you must already have a turbojet type rating. There are some other ways to qualify and you can find them in Part 61 of the federal aviation regulations, but most apply to airline first officers. Even if you don't qualify for a total simulator type ride you will still do most of your training and testing in the simulator. All applicants for a type rating have to do a preflight on the real airplane and those not qualified for a 100-percent-simulator type ride have to do a normal takeoff, normal ILS to a missed approach, and circle to a normal landing in the airplane — all in all, just fun after the intensity of losing an engine or some other vital equipment on every takeoff in the simulator.


Linda Pendleton, AOPA 525616, is the curriculum development manager for Eclipse Aviation. She has accumulated more than 10,000 hours in her 27 years of flying and has given more than 4,000 hours of jet instruction.