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I remember the mixture of trepidation, excitement, fear and nerves as I was about to start my B737 rating. As a low hour cadet this is a petrifying moment as you kind of have ‘everything’ but at the same time have ‘nothing’.
You have a job if you complete your type rating successfully, but fall behind or fail some of your 737 rating progress tests and you could soon find yourself out of employment.
Airline recruitment is extremely competitive (for low hour pilots) in normal times- I can’t imagine what it would be like job hunting through the present pandemic, so hats off to the guys and girls landing jobs during these times.
I appreciate times continue to remain very difficult for aviation, but it is encouraging to see more pilot jobs being posted in anticipation for when things start to recover. In this blog post, I share the B737 type rating process to hopefully allow you to get through yours without too much trouble!
How do you get a 737 type rating?
You can get a 737 type rating via two routes:
- when you get an airline job that flies the B737
- via a self-funded type rating scheme
The stages of completing a type rating consist of:
- Ground school: aircraft technical and systems knowledge, standard operating procedures, performance (including mass and balance)
- Procedural training and flight management computer training (FMC)
- Full flight simulator sessions
- Base training (6 satisfactory take-off and landings)
1) What can you do to prepare for your B737 rating beforehand?
You can reduce the B737 type rating stress and shallow the type rating curve’s steepness by preparing well before your B737 type rating course. Get your airlines Flight Crew Operating Manual (FCOM) and learn your Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)s beforehand. I purchased a cockpit mockup for my APS MCC with VA Airline training and used my mockup for the type rating.
Learning your memory items for non-normal events will reduce the workload (and stress) once you start your type rating.
Always refer to your airline and Boeing official documents.
I found The Boeing 737 technical guide (by Chris Brady) useful for a good introduction to the aircraft.
2) Company onboarding and introduction: B737 rating
Most company type ratings start with an induction and onboarding process. The onboarding and introduction will typically cover the softer items such as:
- Company overview
- Introduction to the various personnel
- Issuing of uniforms and other company items such as work iPads
- Safety management system and reporting
- Some of the mandatory regulated training such for things such as dangerous good, ditching drills etc.
Depending on your company, the onboarding process can last for a few days to a few weeks. Some companies may also use external agencies to complete your B737 type rating, so you may find your introduction takes place after your B737 type rating followed by an operator conversion course.
3) Ground school for B737 type rating!
My ground school consisted of:
- Completing Computer Based Training (CBT) B737 NG course. The CBT element was self-study.
Classroom-based theoretical knowledge lessons and study looking at:
- Aircraft systems
- Mass and balance
- Standard Operating Procedures
At the same time, we also looked at Flight Management Computer use and programming.
4) Sim partner and preparing for you upcoming sims
At some stage during your type rating, you will be allocated a sim partner. One of the best bits of advice I was given was doing everything in your power to allow your sim partner to pass his or her type rating.
In this phase of your type rating, you will be reliant on each other and to give yourselves the best chance of success, you need to work well together.
I was fortunate and had an incredible sim partner who was willing to work hard for both of us. As a perspective first officer, your job in large part will be to morph each day and align with the captain that you will be flying with.
In most cases, you will not have a choice of who you fly with, so even if you do not like the person, you better get used to finding a way to work with people of all ages and backgrounds. No airline wants to hear about crew refusing to fly together.
5) B737 rating Flight simulator:
Depending on the organisation you are completing your type rating with, you can expect a mixture of fixed base simulator sessions at the start before moving onto a full flight simulator (Level -D). The simulator sessions total around 52 hours before completing your licence skills test (LST).
6) Base Training
After completing your LST, you will then need to complete your base training. Base training is 6 take off and landings (one of which is a full stop landing).
The base training has to be completed with a month of your LST. Base training in terms of satisfaction is right up there with the feeling of accomplishment after the first solo.
7) Line training
Your onboarding process and transition to line flying will have you flying with a training captain initially. You will need to complete a number of sectors and demonstrate you are proficient and safe to fly on the line during normal airline operations.
The number of sectors necessary varies by airline, but it usually takes a few months, particularly if the B737 rating is your first heavy CS25 aircraft.
8) B737 Rating Requirements
Requirements vary by airline and authority, so check with your company and local CAA. You would expect requirements that look something like this:
- Valid Commercial Pilot Licence with ATPL Theory credits
- Valid Multi Engine Instrument Rating
- Class 1 medical
- 200hrs total time
- Completed an MCC course
- Completed UPRT course
- 100hours PIC (modular) or 70hours PIC (integrated)
9) B737 Rating Duration
My type rating lasted just under three months from day 1 to complete my base training.
10) How much does a 737 type rating cost?
The B737 type rating costs depends on the airline and also the market environment at the time. The price starts from zero to around £30k depending on the airline.
Lower cost type ratings are usually conditional on the candidate agreeing to a bond of some sort. With the impact of COVID 19 on the airline industry, I think it may be a while before we see free or lower cost bonded type ratings appear again.
If interested in learning more about pilot training from zero to fATPL, check out my best-selling Pilot Training Guide on Amazon.
If you have any questions or I have missed anything, please leave 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.