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Key Takeaways

  • A type rating is a certificate that legally allows you to fly a particular type
  • To get type rated, you must have a certain amount of simulator time, have a certain number of flight hours in the aircraft type with a certified flight instructor and pass a practical test known as a checkride
  • You must also demonstrate that you operate a flight safely and demonstrate you can use all the emergency equipment properly
  • Small aircraft generally don’t require a type rating, however, it is highly recommended if your particular make is high performance or built for high altitude

The aviation industry uses all sorts of jargon. A type rating is one such jargon term often thrown around by airlines and pilots alike, but what is it?

A type rating is a certificate awarded to pilots, which allows a pilot to fly a certain aircraft. Aircraft that require a type rating are typically larger, with more complex aircraft systems. Type ratings often allow pilots to fly multiple aircraft on the same type certificate.

As a pilot who has spent hundreds of hours in flight simulator training to pursue my own type rating, and am presently working on a separate type rating, I’m often asked what exactly one is.

Table of contents


What is a Type Rating?

Aircraft type ratings are a type of certification given by aviation authorities that are awarded to a pilot’s license. For a pilot to be eligible to fly and operate a specific aircraft, one must be knowledgeable about, and able to demonstrate, the systems and limitations of the specific aircraft model.

Type ratings are usually required among commercial pilots who operate large aircraft with complex systems. Pilots who usually train for a type rating are pilots who want to move forward and advance towards the next step of their pilot career.

Type ratings are very important because it states that the pilot has finished the required training and ensures that the pilot has the necessary skills and knowledge to operate a specific aircraft they are type rated on.

Since most pilots dream of flying particular aircraft types as PIC (Pilot in Command) such as the Airbus A320, A380, Boeing 747, 767, 777 and more, they need to get a specific type rating for each of the aircraft they want to fly on.

The aircraft that require pilots to have a type rating are those aircraft exceeding weight, type of engine, number of engines, passenger capacity thresholds stated by the aviation authority of that particular country, eg. the FAA.

For example, the maximum weight requirement set by the FAA is 12,500 pounds (5,670 kg), meaning any aircraft over that limit must require pilots to get type rated, whilst those aircraft below it do not. Similarly, all turbojet powered aircraft (no matter the size or weight) require a type rating, and so on so forth.

Why Do You Need a Type Rating?

Since not all aircraft have the same specifications, a pilot is required to undergo training for a particular aircraft to fly it legally. It is a regulatory requirement from the FAA (Federal Aviation Authority) which ensures that a pilot is qualified to fly with proper knowledge and skill.

It will also give you the advantage you need during your application to airlines that are in demand of the type rating that you have trained on. Having an advantage like this will separate you from those who have a lot of flight experience but don’t have a type rating.

We should also consider that since it certifies that you have passed different tests to have it on your license, you are able and can fly the aircraft in different situations such as emergencies or abnormal conditions.

Remember that flying an aircraft without a type rating is a violation of aviation regulations which can lead to fines, suspensions, criminal charges, or even revocation of your pilot’s license.

Most airlines also require their applicants to have at least one type rating. It is an advantage to those who don’t have one as it will increase your probability of getting hired easily compared to those that are not type rated.

What Are The Factors I Should Consider Before Getting Type Rated?

You have finally decided to get a type rating but you are unsure what aircraft you want to have a type rating in. There are many factors that you should take into consideration, initially, you should think about the training costs if it is on your budget.

Think about your flight training experience. Are you eligible to undergo training to a certain type rating? Is your flight hours enough or are you experienced enough to move one step forward to another aircraft to hone your skills?

As much as you are eager to fly that particular aircraft, you should also consider the demand for pilots on that aircraft. Since not all aircraft are widely used, you may find it hard to find a job after your type rating training.

Personal preferences should also be weighed in. Like the old debate for pilots, do you prefer flying a stick-controlled aircraft or a yoke-controlled aircraft? As pilots, we enjoy the little things that some aircraft have that others don’t.

Flying an aircraft that you enjoy or love will surely help you on the days that you don’t want to fly at all due to some reasons. It will also fuel your fire of passion for flying.

How Much Does a Type Rating Cost?

Type rating costs vary depending on different reasons such as aircraft type, duration, flight hours you need to apply for a type rating, location of the training centers you wish to fly with, demand, and more.

In the United States, here are the estimates for type ratings in these categories:

  1. Small Piston Engine Aircraft (Cessna 172, Cessna 152, Tecnam P2002, Beechcraft Bonanza series, etc.) - $5,000 - $12,000
  2. Multi-Engine Piston Aircraft (Piper PA-44, Tecnam P2012, Cessna 310R, Diamond DA62, etc.) - $10,000 - $18,000
  3. Turboprop Aircraft (Bombardier Dash 8, Alenia ATR 42, Pilatus PC-12, etc.) - $15,000 - $20,000
  4. Jet Aircraft (Airbus A320, Boeing 737, Cessna Citation, Bombardier Global 7500, etc.) - $25,000 - $45,000 or more

Note that these are only rough estimates based on different training facilities in the United States, they are subject to change depending on the training costs and availability of the aircraft.

What Are My Options If I Don’t Have Money For Type Rating?

Well even if you are unable to provide the amount of money to support your type rating, there are still ways to attain that type rating without initially bringing out money straight from your pocket.

On rare occasions, assuming you passed the interview and they can see that you are qualified for the job, airlines present the option of covering all the expenses during your type rating.

Let us say you do find one, since the company paid for your type rating they are expecting something in return. Either they will ask for you to pay the money back after a year or two or deduct it from your salary every month.

There are also occasions when the airline that paid for your training will give you an employment bond wherein you are required to stay within the company for 2-5 years depending on how much they paid for your training.

Regardless of the way the airline wants you to pay back their investment to you, it is a rare and valuable opportunity that is hard to decline since they will surely hire you after your type rating has been issued.

Be sure to approach this opportunity with your utmost commitment to show appreciation but also consider if the offer rate of remuneration for the training is what you are looking for (eg. don’t just say yes because it’s an offer if you haven’t considered everything else).

How Do You Get a Type Rating?

To obtain a type rating, a pilot must complete a specific flight training course approved by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) or an aviation authority and then be certified on an individual basis.

Although it varies in different countries, some aircraft require only a PPL (Private Pilot License), while others require a CPL (Commercial Pilot License) and a flight time experience (cross-country, night time flight, Instrument flight) of up to 1,500 hours.

From my personal experience, after training all the way to PPL on a Cessna 152, I upgraded and got my second type rating of a single-piston engine which is a Tecnam P2002JF.

After getting some hours in the Tecnam, I decided to get my third type rating for the Nextant 400. I’m presently working on getting type certified to fly the Cessna Citation family, which I only have a brief amount of simulator time in.

You should carefully choose your desired training facilities that offer the type rating courses of your desired aircraft. It should be approved by the FAA and a facility that will help you grow for your goals because let us face it, getting a type rating is not cheap.

Like all parts of flight training, one must go through the hardships of ground school which covers all the theoretical aspects, limitations, and emergency procedures of the aircraft. You have to pass a written exam for you to certify that you’ve learned what you needed to learn during ground school.

To put your newly learned knowledge from ground school, you now have to apply it in flight. Other type rating training may require actual flight training while others just require flight simulators. Finishing your flight time requirements is your next step as you move forward toward getting your type rating all sorted.

Finally, you are done with all the requirements and will now take your checkride which involves an oral exam from an FAA DPE (Designated Pilot Examiner), a written exam, and a practical exam to demonstrate that you are proficient in both skills and knowledge on the specific aircraft.

How Long is a Type Rating Course?

Flight training for a specific type rating really depends on how complex the aircraft is. Usually, pilots are required a certain number of hours ranging from 15 to 60 or more that can be finished in as little as three weeks or take as long as five months.

Most training facilities suggest that you stay near their facilities during the duration of your training so you can focus and complete your required flight hours on time or even earlier.

How Long Does a Type Rating Last?

Most type ratings are only valid between 6 to 12 months counted from the end of the calendar month you have undergone your checkride. For your type rating certification to be valid, you are required to have a recurrent training and proficiency check by a check pilot under the FAA.

Although some ratings have an exception for the single pilot single engine class ratings which are valid for two years (as opposed to the usual 6-12 months). This is still counted the exact same way.

To clear things out, being type rated on a specific aircraft differs from being current on that aircraft. Even upon the expiry, you will not lose the rating but you are not legal to fly without having a recurrency flight or reinstatement flight for that type of aircraft. Once done, your type rating is valid for another six months to two years (depending on the type).

Do You Get A Job After Type Rating?

Having a type rating does not guarantee that you will be hired automatically by an aviation company but, it can increase your chances as having a type rating ensures that you have passed and you are qualified to operate a specific aircraft that you have a type rating on.

Added to your type rating, airlines also consider your flight experience and additional certifications (Commercial Pilot License, Instrument Rating, Multi-Engine Rating, etc.). Some airlines even require that their pilots have a bachelor's degree or military experience.

Always remember that aviation is not easy and it is a very competitive industry. Getting hired is not always guaranteed but it is advisable that you should always try to improve your chances in addition to your flight experience and added type ratings in your resume.

What Are The Best Type Ratings I Could Have?

All type ratings are great to have and uniquely categorized based on their uses and design. You should go for a common aircraft that is widely used in the airlines for both cargo and passengers to better your odds after flight training.

The most common type rating you can have is Airbus A320 or Boeing 737. Both aircraft are widely used worldwide which can be beneficial because you can expand your choices during your job-seeking phase after training.

Another great thing about having an Airbus A320 type rating is that you’re also eligible to fly other aircraft within the A320 Family such as the A318, A319, A321, and more for they have the same cockpit style. The same goes for Boeing 737 with similar versions under the 737 Family.

The Gulfstream G650, Bombardier Global Express, and Cessna Citation are also great because they are commonly used by government officials, business owners, millionaires, and medical transport. This rating is recommended if you want to go for a corporate approach in general aviation.

Can I Have More Than One Type Rating?

You can actually have as many as you want as long as you can maintain their validity within a year. The FAA has set no limits on how many type ratings you can have on your license but airlines require that their pilots only fly two types of aircraft in any one year.

The reason is that with different specifications of different aircraft, a pilot can be confused and mix things up with other aircraft. Limitations and emergencies are different among different aircraft. Pilots are only humans after all and will make human errors when overloaded with information.

Fun fact: Did you know that the world record for most type ratings held by an individual pilot is 109? Imagine the training cost and studies the pilot went through. You can really achieve great feats if you put your mind to it!

Is it Hard to Get a Type Rating?

Well, not all things are easy especially getting a type rating but with the upgrading technology we have today, we should have a mindset that pilots will forever learn something new every day. We as aviators have a profession that requires continuous learning to become better.

Think of type ratings as a bridgeway for you to become not just a better pilot but a better person. A person who is undergoing a type rating will have the discipline to study before and after your training and absorb more knowledge than you already have.

Achievements like getting a type rating are very fulfilling for pilots because it is a sign that they have improved and you are ready to face another challenge that their profession will give in the future.

It may be hard (and expensive) but think of it as a stepping stone to go farther than you already have. Passion is what fuels us and trust me, it will be worth all the hardships.

What If I Fail During My Type Rating Checkride?

Statistically, over 30% of pilots tend to fail on their first time taking a type rating. Learning to fly a new aircraft may be exciting but the hardships with it are gruesome. Memorizing its limitations, systems, emergency procedures and more is not an easy task for most of us.

Although there are no specific limits on how many times you can retake your checkride, you will receive disapproval from the FAA. Therefore you need to reapply to take your checkride again, in addition to retaking the theory test.

On some occasions, the FAA requires pilots to take additional training or refresher courses depending on their performance. This is to ensure that you will have a better score or flight upon your reapplication so this time, you will not fail again.

As much as it is good to hear that there are unlimited chances for a retake, there are drawbacks in retaking the checkride. Repeated failures can lead to more time in training meaning additional cost on your type rating.

It is also best to mention that your future applications in aviation companies or airlines will have a huge impact since you have failed your initial checkride as it can reflect on your records.

That is why it is advisable for pilots who are undergoing type rating training to have a good sense of responsibility to at least study for two hours a day to be refreshed. Preparing for possible questions by your instructor is a great practice to maximize your training.

The time you have invested will surely be fruitful as you harvest (or in this case, add) a type rating on your pilot license.

Discipline, focus, and passion will surely help you throughout this journey of your flying career.