The lure of a jet is strong. Not only are they fast and high-flying but they’re undeniably cool. Who wouldn’t want to take that next step and lose the props?
Truth is, a lot of pilots out there have the money to move up to the jet world but just don’t do it, and the reason is easy to discover, because they’ll tell you. They’re worried that a type rating is beyond them.
In most every case, it just isn’t so. This is not to say that a type rating is easy. It is not. But the rewards are great, and there’s probably no better way to improve your basic instrument and general flying skills.
Why a Type?
Flying turboprops requires little certification beyond what most pilots of piston twins already have. Theoretically, a 100-hour pilot with a new multiengine rating can legally climb into a Mitsubishi MU-2, Merlin or King Air 90 and start flying without additional training, certification or logbook endorsements (with the possible exception of a high-altitude signoff).
For a jet, it’s a different story. For that, the FAA requires a type rating, which is simply certification specifically to fly that particular type of airplane. You’re certified in that type and in no other type.
There are few prerequisites for a type rating. If it’s a multiengine jet (which is, for all intents and purposes, all of them), you’ll need a multiengine rating. And if the jet flies above 24,000 feet (once again, which ones don’t?), you’ll need that high-altitude endorsement. The would-be jet jock will also need complex and high-performance endorsements, though nearly every pilot with a multiengine rating has already checked those boxes. So the price of admission is low.
In reality, pilots looking to get a first type rating want a lot more time and experience in their logbook than that. Tracy Brannon, a longtime instructor at SimCom and today its COO, told me that the personal aviators who succeed fit a typical profile. They fly a lot in complex airplanes — usually twin-engine airplanes — and their basic instrument skills are solid. The success rate for this kind of pilot in getting that type rating added on is “very high,” Brannon said, because they come prepared for challenges. That said, Brannon stresses that SimCom is designed to help all of its customers, even those with lesser experience, succeed at getting type rated. In all but a few cases, he said, it can do just that.