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Tried and Tested: An Overview of Aircraft Ratings

When children are asked what they want to be when they grow up, firefighters, astronauts, athletes, and pilots are usually among the most popular answers. When the first pair of walkie-talkies is gifted, parents often begin hearing mumblings of aviation language around the house, with words such as ‘roger’, ‘copy’, or ‘over and out’. As children grow older, those who still carry the dream of piloting an aircraft will adopt a slightly more realistic aviation vocabulary with the word ‘rating’ being a term of particular focus.  

In aviation, a class rating is an allowance to fly a particular group of aircraft that requires specialized training common to all aircraft within the group. Just because a pilot carries a certification does not mean they are rated to fly all types of aircraft. A pilot must undergo extensive flight training to earn different ratings. 

Type Ratings

In the world of aviation, there are several different types of aircraft that all require unique and specialized training to operate. ‘Types’ refer to general categories of aircraft of which there are seven:

  • Airplanes
  • Rotorcraft (helicopters and gyroplanes)
  • Powered Lifts 
  • Gliders
  • Airships (including zeppelins and balloons)
  • Powered Parachutes (paraplanes)
  • Weight-Shift-Control Aircraft (including hang gliders)

Class Ratings

‘Classes’ refer to subdivisions of the types listed above. At FLT Academy, we specialize in airplane aviation, providing world-class flight training to those seeking to operate fixed-wing aircraft propelled mechanically by thrust. Surely, we all know what airplanes are, but many don’t know there are four main classes of airplanes, each requiring unique training. They are as follows: 

Single-Engine Land Class

It’s typical that beginner pilots in training will start with their single-engine land rating. Most single-engine aircraft used for flight training are easy to operate and have fewer controls. At FLT Academy, we have many such aircraft to help new students reach their first aviation objectives. Our aircraft are equipped with advanced technology, helping them fly as efficiently as possible while ensuring safety on-board.  

Learn more about single-engine flight training

Multi-Engine Land Class

A multi-engine rating is a pilot rating that qualifies one to fly as pilot-in-command (PIC) of an aircraft with more than one engine. This is a necessary certification for any aspiring pilot to advance to commercial flight. While some commercial airlines use single-engine aircraft, a majority of flight operations use multi-engine aircraft, making the ME license a valuable asset to any pilot. Multi-engine training usually is an add-on following private and commercial pilot certifications.  

Learn more about multi-engine flight training

Single-Engine Sea Class

Although the controls in the cockpit are similar, seaplanes, as the name suggests, are built to take off and land on water. There are no wheels to cushion an on-water landing. In addition, wind and weather conditions near bodies of water are often different from those experienced on land and require specific knowledge to navigate. 

Multi-Engine Sea Class

The operation of multi-engine seaplanes typically requires prerequisite flight training. In many cases, a pilot pursuing this rating will need to hold, at minimum, a private pilot certificate as well as an unrestricted airplane multi-engine land rating. In addition, a medical certificate is required. 

Additional – Instrument Rating

The instrument rating allows you to fly in instrument conditions (clouds) and increases the flexibility of the airplane as a source of transportation. Instead of flying by reference to the horizon, the airplane’s instruments are used to fly the airplane and navigate to the destination. It is widely understood that pilots with an instrument rating are better equipped to navigate harsh meteorological conditions than those who are confined to the use of standard VFR (visual flight rules) which is why it is almost always a requirement for those who seek a career in aviation. 

Learn more about obtaining your instrument rating

Receive Flight Instruction at FLT Academy

When it comes to quality instruction both in the air and on the ground, FLT Academy exceeds the mark. Our world-class facilities are further enhanced by our expert flight instructors and advanced flying/simulation equipment. If you are interested in pursuing a career in aviation, contact us today. We are always happy to help.