Wondering whether or not to spend the money and do an APS MCC or just do an MCC JOC- this post shares everything you need to know.
If you are ready to book an APS MCC course right away, check out VA Airline Training.
When I was working through my ATPL exams, there were cases where a large integrated course provider in the UK was placing students who had completed their in house MCC course with a large low-cost UK airline that flies A320s the very same afternoon the cadets had finished their MCC course!
I went on the forums and spoke to as many people as possible to figure out what the ‘magic’ was to allow a self-funded modular pilot like myself to land an airline role. Do I pay the premium to a provider that promises to ‘place you with an airline’?
Do I do the standard 25hr JOC MCC course? Or do I do an ‘enhanced MCC’ as provided by great organisations like Sky4u? Or do I do APS MCC?
Around the same time Andy O’Shea, former head of training at Ryanair, was working with EASA on a new MCC to address the perennial headache of 50% of all new pilots in possession of a CPL MEIR failing airline assessments.
This brought about the advent of the Airline Pilot Standard Multi Crew Course (APS MCC). In this post, I’ll share why I believe that if you don’t do APS MCC, to be blunt, you are excluding yourself from being considered for Airline roles in Europe (assuming recruitment picks up again).
What is an APS MCC?
The APS MCC is the Airline Pilot Standard Multi Crew Certification. The APS MCC was bourne about due to airlines finding that most students failed airline assessments.
This was despite students completing the standard Commercial Pilot Licence with Multi-Engine Instrument Rating and generic Multi Crew Course, more than 50% of students were failing airline assessments.
The idea of APS MCC was to create a standardised course that better prepared the student for assessment, type rating, and transitioning into the airline environment.
What is MCC JOC?
MCC JOC is a Multi-Crew Course with Jet Orientation Course. The multi-crew course is designed to introduce CPL MEIR pilots (which have been so far operating as single pilots) to the multi-crew environment.
The MCC course was unregulated and could be done on any device, e.g. king air sim, and did not necessarily have to be on an FNPT II small jet aircraft simulator as required for the APS MCC course.
The MCC JOC teaches you to fly in a multi-crew environment using standard operating procedures.
Depending on the provider, MCC JOC footprint typically consists of:
- 25 hours classroom training
- 24 to 28 hours simulator time (depending on provider)
An MCC JOC typically lasts around two weeks, including rest days.
Does APS MCC include JOC?
APS MCC meets the requirements for a JOC (Jet Orientation Course), but APS MCC goes much further than a traditional MCC JOC would in the operation of advanced swept-wing high-performance jet aircraft.
APS MCC goes much further because you spend 40 hours in a simulator vs 20/25 hours you would spend on an MCC JOC. The APS is also better because the simulator standard required for an APS MCC is an FNPT II small jet aircraft simulator.
Suppose, for whatever reason; you don’t pass your sim check at the end of your APS MCC Course – what happens? Provided you have completed all the simulator sessions on the APS MCC Course, you will be issued with an MCC JOC certificate.
If you have passed your APS MCC course whilst not being issued an MCC JOC certificate, you can still request an MCC JOC certificate from your ATO. It is widely recognised that the APS MCC satisfies MCC JOC requirements.
The depth of training and the quality of candidates after APS MCC is much higher than that of a generic MCC JOC.
APS MCC course overview
I completed the VA Airline Training APS MCC. The VA APS MCC consists of advanced swept-wing jet aircraft training in a Boeing 737-800 FNPT II or Airbus A320 FNPT II.
The APS MCC focussed on using real airline Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). With the APS MCC being a regulated course, the course footprint requires 40hours in the sim.
The APS MCC is designed to bridge the gap between single-pilot multi-engine piston instrument flying to operating in the multi-crew airline environment.
APS MCC improves employment prospects.
45% of MCC JOC students failed airline assessment whereas 75% of APS MCC candidates passed airline assessment, according to Captain Andy O’Shea (former Head Of Training Ryanair) and CEO of Airline Pilot Club.
Before starting simulator training, VA APS MCC includes five days of classroom training covering theoretical knowledge on the Boeing 737-800 or Airbus A320 advanced swept-wing aircraft.
The ground school aspect also covers CRM and standard operating procedures, including emergency scenarios.
The 40 hours of simulator training lasts around two weeks, culminating in a final simulator check. The pass or fail test is conducted over two sectors: assessing both pilot monitoring and pilot flying.
Each sector will typically include some minor failure to assess how you work together as a crew.
The APS MCC course prepares you exceptionally well for your type rating. You will have covered items such as engine failures. Most importantly, you will also be aware of and comfortable with the amount of work and pace to expect during your type rating.
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APS MCC Requirements
- UK CAA/ EASA CPL (you can complete your CPL course after MCC)
- UK CAA / EASA Multi-Engine Instrument Rating (required before the course)
- UK CAA/ EASA Class 1 medical
- UK CAA ATPL Theoretical Knowledge Exams
APS MCC duration
The APS MCC lasts for 3 weeks.
APS MCC cost
The APS MCC with VA Airline Training costs £6,900, including VAT.
What is included in the price ( from VA Airline Training Website)
- 30 hours (5 days) of Theoretical Knowledge Instruction, including Airline Oriented Training
- 20 hours of briefing and debriefing before and after simulator training sessions
- 40 hours (10 days) of type-specific flight simulator training, with pass/fail Final Assessment
- Online access to all training materials and manuals, including digital flight deck posters
- Use of self-study facilities, including FMC trainers and full-size flight deck mock-ups
- SOPs handbook
- Competency assurance
Airline placement after APS MCC
Some companies like Ryanair prefer APS MCC students and will prioritise them for airline assessment depending on the airline.
If you have completed the Ryanair Menotred APS MCC course, you will most likely be provided with a fast track assessment with Ryanair as and when positions are available.
VA Airline training offers competency assurance which splits into two parts: assurance during the course and help after the course.
If for whatever reason, you need extra training during the APS MCC to meet the required standard, extra training will be offered at no additional cost to you.
Most providers will charge extra if you need remedial training, e.g. you have a bad sim and need to repeat some aspect of it.
The other aspect that VA offers regarding airline placement are as a result of COVID-19. Pilots who have completed a VA APS MCC in 2020 and 2021 will be offered 2 hours of refresher training (1hr pilot flying/1 hr pilot monitoring) free of charge.
The training is available either six months after completing training or immediately before an airline assessment (whichever come sooner)
Other items to consider during APS MCC
You will also need to budget for your accommodation and travel during the three weeks of your APS MCC course.
Unless you already live locally, the APS MCC is not commutable because of the tempo of the course and the amount of study needed outside of the course.
Whilst it is essential to take breaks not to burn you during the MCC course, you also need to find time to study with your sim partner and practice the SOPs.
Preparing for upcoming sims usually takes place during evenings and weekends, so you need to be accessible on your days off during the APS MCC.
Funding options for APS MCC
VA APS MCC does allow for staggered payments. I paid for my APS MCC in instalments months before the course. The APS MCC Course can be paid in stages.
- £1,500 due at time of booking to secure your course place
- £5,400 due no later than 7 days before course commencement
7 reasons why not doing APS MCC could make it harder getting that first job
Reason #1: APS MCC course will force you to sharpen your technical knowledge and put you at an advantage during technical interviews.
I am not just saying this flippantly, but APS MCC pushes you much harder from a theoretical knowledge standpoint with the need to have a sound systems understanding of the aircraft you will be doing the MCC course on compared to a 25hr JOC MCC on a generic aircraft platform.
On my APS MCC course in the UK, we had four days of ground school looking at various aspects – aircraft systems, CRM etc. culminating in an exam before we were able to progress into the sim.
This intensity of study is not dissimilar from a type rating course and although the APS MCC is not meant to be a type rating; I would say my APS MCC training covered roughly 40-50% of what was in my type rating course.
For those interested, after my APS MCC, to prepare for my airline interviews, I read Ace the Technical Pilot Interview. In conjunction with what I learnt during my APS MCC and the book, I never had any issues with technical interviews.
Reason #2: APS MCC de-risks your type rating
Even if you are not conducting a type rating on the same aircraft as you did your APS MCC on, e.g. pilot job flying B737 vs APS MCC A320 course, you still learn a lot during your APS MCC that carries you through the type rating.
I don’t think post-COVID many airlines will offer free type ratings.
Instead, students themselves will have to pay for their type ratings when offered a job, which typically costs around £30,000. This vast financial outlay means that you want to be as prepared as possible for your type rating course and APS MCC will undoubtedly do that.
Reason #3: You get more flying with APS MCC vs MCC JOC
The normal MCC JOC is 25 hours vs APS MCC, which is 40 hours. Imagine yourself on your PPL course with 25 hours vs yourself on a PPL course with 40 Hours.
With 40 hours, you were probably close to your PPL skills test whereas, with 25 hours, you may have only left the circuit a hand full of times on your own. Now consider the added advantage of the extra sim time when it comes to an airline sim assessment.
You develop more capacity and are more used to the jet aircraft’s speeds, which you will be conducting your sim assessments on having completed an APS MCC Course.
I completed the VA APS MCC, and my three airline sim assessments (with different companies) were all on the B737 – which I had become “comfortable” with during my APS MCC.
A generic non-specific aircraft type sim on some MCC JOC courses, may not, for example, give the “pitch power couple” characteristic found on the normal 737.
Reason #4: APS MCC is regulated (with a test), so the standard of instruction is very high vs MCC JOC (not regulated) and can be taught by anybody including your gran!
During the APS MCC, you are graded on the 8 ICAO competencies after each sim session. These are:
- Flightpath management (manual)
- Flightpath management (automatic)
- Leadership and teamwork
- Problem-solving and decision making
- Application of procedures
- Workload management
- Situational awareness
You also have a pass/ fail test at the end of your APS MCC course. During my APS MCC, I remember having some quite intense debriefs because I had screwed up something during a given sim session.
This feedback is exactly what you want as a trainee and will help you grow and improve.
I did not do an MCC JOC myself, and without wanting to bash other courses, I would be surprised if the level of instruction and debriefs are at the same level of scrutiny as the APS MCC.
Reason #5: The APS MCC goes further into non-normal events
You get to experience V1 cuts, engine failures, total FMC failures and many other items during your APS MCC. This will help you build confidence for your airline assessments (when recruitment hopefully opens up again).
This exposure to non-normals will also give you a MASSIVE head start on your type rating course particularly if the aircraft type is the same as that used during your APS MCC simulator sessions.
Reason #6: Some airlines now give “preference” to APS MCC candidates during cadet recruitment
Exactly that. Going back to how I started the post by saying that if you don’t do APS MCC, you will be effectively obsoleting yourself from specific roles. Cadet airline recruitment is exceptionally competitive.
You don’t want to start the recruitment process on the back foot by having a ‘weaker’ MCC.
Reason #7: APS MCC EASA candidates typically complete their line training with a given airline in 20% fewer sectors than those without APS MCC
In my specific case, I completed my line training with my airline in the minimum number of sectors they allow.
Once in the airline environment, you want to get your line check done as soon as you can as your first line check typically signifies a pay rise, contract change or has an impact on your basing (depending on your given airline).
A lot has been said in the various forums on whether it makes sense to incur the addition APS MCC cost vs standard JOC MCC.
Once you combine all the APS MCC course advantages: fast track airline assessment (in certain circumstances), de-risked type rating, and shorter time to first-line check once in employment, the APS MCC very quickly pays for itself.
I explained previously in my type rating course post how each airline assessment would set you back around £1,000, and you will typically only have one opportunity at a given airline. What is the cost of then missing out on employment because of a weak MCC course?
Or failing your the type rating because of a weak MCC?
Do you have any questions about the APS MCC? Please leave me a comment in the section below. I would love to hear from you!
Kudzi Chikohora is a B737 pilot with around 2,000 hours flying in Europe. He holds a masters degree in Aerospace Engineering and is a chartered engineer and a member of the Royal Aeronautical Society.
Kudzi completed his pilot training via the self funded modular pilot training route and created kcthepilot.com to share pilot training and aviation content.