JCAB Licence Conversion – Dispelling the Myths!

We would like to dispel the following myths surrounding converting to a JCAB licence:

  • –         it does not require any study before job offer
  • –         you do not have to sit full ATPL exams
  • –         it does not take a very long time / being grounded for 6-9 months
  • –         the medical exam is not astronaut standard

The JCAB Licence conversion has just TWO key components:

  • –         Air Law Exam (pretty reasonable as you’re going to be flying in Japanese air space)
  • –         SIM Check Ride (pretty standard for ANY country issuing a conversion)

The conversion process only takes approximately 10-12 weeks total. This depends on how soon after you join a Japanese airline you can be scheduled for the Air Law Exam which only takes place every second month.    You will spend approx. 4 – 6 weeks being prepared for the Air Law Exam. Most airlines will give you some ground school and all will give you study materials to work through at your own pace.   You will then spend approx. 4 – 6 weeks being prepared for the SIM Check. Again, the airline which has hired you will give you materials with which to work and guidance in the simulator as well as a LOT of practice sessions before the check ride itself to practice SOPs, calls and procedures. Most airlines will allow you a second attempt if you don’t pass the JCAB SIM check on the first try.

At some stage during this time you will undergo the JCAB Medical exam which takes about 4 hours and has nothing particularly onerous in it – blood sample, urine sample, eye and ear tests, chest x-ray and an EEG “brain scan” which is unusual for Europeans perhaps but very standard in Asia.  The medical standards might be different to what you’re used to with your own AME (cholesterol norms for example would be lower in Asia than the west and your BMI must be below 30) but you can see the full set of standards here https://www.aeromedical.or.jp/documents/ManualforAME.pdf      You’ll have undergone this same medical check as part of assessment so will already know in advance if there are any potential problem areas.

The reason why the “Training Period” at most Japanese airlines is usually cited as 5-6 months is because in addition to the conversion process you will have:

  • –         Operator Conversion Course (the airline SOPs, induction, SEP/DRG/etc. training – like with ANY new airline you would join)
  • –         Line Training Sectors after the conversion is done (in Japan this could take anything from 1 to 3 months depending on which airline you have joined)
  • –         If you are non- type rated you could expect an additional month of “Training Period” to cover the type rating course itself of course.

So, if you had a type rating when joining and were lucky to be able to book the Air Law exam in the month after you join your “Training Period” could be, for example:

  • Month 1 = OCC Course
  • Month 2 = Prep for Air Law Exam, undertake Air Law Exam
  • Month 3 = prep for JCAB SIM, undertake SIM Check Ride
  • Months 4&5 = Line Training, Release to Line

Being able to schedule the Air Law exam soon after your arrival is dependent entirely on how well you’ve completed the paperwork during the application process. Your Aeronautical Experience (AE) Form (an excel spreadsheet with every hour you’ve ever flown) and logbooks must be in good order and must be submitted to JCAB at least 4 weeks before the Air Law exam you want to book in for (and those are every second month approximately) – for this reason most airlines will require your completed AE Form and paperwork to be submitted even before you go to Japan for assessment.

So as you can see once the JCAB SIM Check is done you’ll be right into line training so you won’t be “grounded” for very long and the Japanese airlines we work with such as Jetstar Japan, Peach and Spring Japan all offer excellent support for the full conversion process. Afterall it’s in their interest to have you on the line ASAP and being a productive member of the team!

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