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Step 7 Practical training for CPL + MEP(L) + IR/ME

Having passed theoretical exams for ATPL, you’ll feel a great relief. Finally, you’ll be able to start the long awaited practical training for a commercial pilot licence, multi engine rating, and instrument rating you’ve been dreaming of. Contrary to what you might expect, studying theoretical knowledge doesn’t end on passing ATPL exams. At that time, a much more interesting part of studying beings, as it directly translates to flying. During your practical training, particularly for IR/ME, you should prepare yourself properly, so that you can comprehend all concepts related to IFR flying, which involves thoroughly different rules than those previously learned and can apply them in practice.

CPL(A) training (Commercial Pilot Licence) – in simple terms, this training can be said to be quite similar to the PPL(A) training. It covers flying the traffic pattern, emergencies, training zone, flight on instruments, and navigation routes. During the training, you’re flying for 5 hours a plane with retractable landing gear and a constant speed propeller, which gives an unquestionably exciting foretaste of flying on more advanced airplanes.

MEP(L) training (Multi Engine Piston Land) –  intends to familiarise the student pilot with the specificity of flying multi-engine airplanes. The training is carried out on a twin-engine airplane. It’s more advanced and much faster than the airplanes you’ve been flying so far. Checklists are more sophisticated as well. The combination of higher speed and more advanced aircraft makes this training course more demanding, as it requires anticipation and constant being ahead of the plane. It’s a good training course that prepares you for IR training, when the number of activities, the necessity to divide attention between various aspects of flight, and the required situational awareness are even more demanding and encumbering than during MEP(L) training.

IR training (Instrument Rating) – definitely, the most demanding and the hardest training, and – at the very same time – the best one for preparing the student pilot for flying as a professional, and highly satisfying for that very reason. It is carried out according to IFR (Instrument Flight Rules), which govern airline flying. Due to a large number of new problems, much time has to be dedicated to theoretical preparation before the training begins. This includes learning definitions, regulations, as well as reading and comprehension of data provided in charts.

The first part of practical training takes the form of simulator classes. Only after this completely new ‘chapter’ of flight is mastered on a simulator will you get on a plane with your instructor. During the training, it’s assumed that you’ve got a good control of the aircraft and hold parameters within the tolerance limits. I think the level of complexity of IFR flight can be well illustrated by a claim that pilotage itself accounts for 20% of flight. The remaining 80% is flight management, situational awareness, anticipation, planning, correspondence with controllers, reading of charts, briefings, conducting the flight in compliance with procedures, and dividing attention between all these elements.

There are various training programmes varying in the order in which the above three training courses are performed. However, in my opinion, they should be carried out in the very same order as described above due to the specificity and the progressing level of difficulty to which the pilot becomes gradually accustomed in the course of each training course.

The IR training can be carried out in two variants:

  1. First, an IR/SE training – on a single engine airplane (SE – Single Engine) and then a reduced practical IR/ME training (ME – Multi Engine);
  2. A straightaway IR/ME training – the entire IR training takes place on a twin-engine airplane.

The difference between the above-mentioned options lies in the fact that the first training variant is less expensive, yet covers two exams – first the IR/SE exam and then the IR/ME exam. Hence, the additional cost of the second exam should be taken into account. The reduced IR/ME training in the first variant is very brief and actually doesn’t involve much IFR flying on a multi-engine airplane.

On the other hand, the IR/ME training course in the second variant is carried out entirely on a multi-engine airplane. It is indeed more expensive, but you save on the second exam (you don’t sit the IR/SE exam). Furthermore, there are about 15 flying hours on a more advanced and faster airplane, which makes it more demanding. Additionally, high cruise speeds on a twin-engine airplane allow you to reach airports located farther away and practice other approach procedures. A flight to more distant airports on a slower one-engine airplane could take too long.