I'm going to suspend the trip I've been describing right there to describe--and solicit your help with--the process of converting a Canadian ATPL to an FAA one. I have an opportunity for an interesting short term job, and potentially others in the longer term, if I have an FAA licence. Don't worry, Americans, I'm not stealing your jobs, the job is not in the USA and is not for an American company. It's for a company based in country A that is operating an airplane in country B and that airplane just happens to be N-registered, that is, it's registered in the US. The law says that the pilot's licence has to match the airplane registration. (In many cases you have a period of time, typically six months to a year, to make the transition from in internationally respected licence such as a Canadian one to the local licence, but not for the US).
The process involves getting an FAA medical certificate, passing a written exam, and putting them together with a bit of paperwork and a processing fee. I've already had the FAA physical, and am just waiting for their approval. I'm studying for the exam so I can have that written as soon as possible. I haven't yet figured out if I need to make an appointment to write it or can just show up at a testing centre. Er, I guess that's a testing "center."
My first impression as I look at the material to be studied is that there's a disconnect between what I have and what I'm converting to. There's an assumption that someone writing an ATPL level exam has mastered the material of the private pilot level, but I have to figure that out too. The material is totally unrelated to what I'll be doing, so there isn't a lot of point in thoroughly learning and understanding it. In the US all test bank questions are available in advance, so when you're in this situation you can just learn the correct answers with out really know why. I've never taken a test this way before, but when in
Rome Washington, D.C. Things like I've learned that "part 91" means general aviation, "part 135" is on-demand air carriers and "part 121" is scheduled air carriers. But the questions mention "domestic carriers" and "flag carriers" and "supplemental air carriers." They must be defined somewhere. My local pilot shop has run out of the FAR/AIM because the new one is on order, so I've ordered one directly from the US.
I have to figure out how aircraft approach categories (A B C D) work in the US. There's something in the questions that implies that it's not just based on approach speed as in Canada. I have to figure out how the NOTAM system works. Apparently you get different sorts of NOTAMs with different letters from different sources.
Up until now I've almost deliberately not learned about US regulations that don't affect Canadian pilots (like needing one flight attendant for the first 10 passengers (in aircraft with a payload capacity of 7500 lbs and up) of for the first 20 passengers when the aircraft payload is under 7500. With 50 to 100 passengers you need two flight attendants, and one more for every fifty passengers or part thereof after that. And it's based on seating capacity, not boarded passengers, implying that you need three flight attendants for a B737-600 with four people in the back. Or something. Maybe I can store this in a part of my brain that's reusable.