Airline Transport Pilot Certificate

The airline transport pilot certificate is the highest level of pilot certification in the United States. The ATP is a certificate that is required for many of the most sought-after jobs in professional aviation. It requires flight hours, academic requirements, and the completion of a practical exam.

Though the paths to earning an ATP certificate differ, the end result is something that any pilot can be proud of. Let’s go over how to get your ATP certification step by step.

The ATP is the world’s most prestigious certification (or licence, in some countries). There is also a Restricted ATP (sometimes abbreviated R-ATP) in the United States, which allows certain pilots who do not meet the standard requirements for holding an ATP to receive a limited version valid only in certain US operations.

Airline Transport Pilot Certificate Requirements

Applicants for an unrestricted ATP certificate must meet the following requirements unless they are a former military or collegiate pilot who qualifies for one of the Restricted ATP exemptions:

  • You must be at least 23 years old to apply.
  • You must be an instrument-rated commercial pilot in your category and class.
  • The flight time requirements are outlined in FAR 61.159.

Successfully complete both the written and practical exams. The steps are relatively simple for a pilot looking to complete the ATP on their own. By this point in your professional pilot career, you should be familiar with knowledge tests, practical exams, and what to expect on check ride day.

In 5 Easy Steps, Learn How to Obtain an Airline Transport Pilot License.

Step 1: Completing the Minimum Hours Required

For pilots applying for an unrestricted ATP, a minimum of 1,500 hours total time, 500 hours cross-country flight time, 250 hours of flight time as pilot in command (PIC), 100 hours of night time, 75 hours of actual or simulated instrument time, and 50 hours of time in the aircraft class you are applying for the ATP in is required.

FAR 61.160 specifies the requirements for pilots seeking a Restricted ATP (R-ATP) based on the type of applicant (former military, collegiate aviation graduate, etc). It should be noted that the R-ATP is only valid for the aeroplane multiengine land class and does not meet the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Step 2: Finish the CTP Course if necessary.

A Certification Training Program is required only for applicants for an ATP or R-ATP in the aeroplane multiengine land class (CTP). Aerodynamics, meteorology, air carrier operations, and crew resource management are among the topics covered in the one-week standalone CTP course (CRM).

A flight training device (FTD) and a full motion simulator simulating a 40,000-pound aircraft are also required. The FAA has compiled a list of authorized CTP providers in PDF format.

Step 3. Pass the FAA Written Exam.

The FAA written exam for ATP certificates ranges from 90 to 125 questions depending on the category and class.

It is an overall knowledge test that requires a 70% to pass and will generate a report at the end of the exam detailing items missed for review on your practical test.

Step 4: Complete the Required Flight Training

You can apply for the practical exam after completing the required minimum flight times and, if applicable, your CTP course.

Although instructor approval is not required, completing the ATP as a stand-alone checkride, as part of an airline training program, or concurrently with an aircraft type rating examination may necessitate a diverse training regimen to achieve proficiency.


Step 5: Complete the Practical Exam

Regardless of category or class, the airline transport pilot certificate is the highest level of certification available. Both the oral exam and the flight portion of the check ride have high standards and cover a wide range of normal and emergency operations, as well as maneuvering, navigation, and various instrument procedures.

The temporary certificate will be issued following a successful practical. Remember that your new certificate will say “Airline Transport Pilot,” but it will no longer include the instrument rating in the category in which you are completing the check ride—an ATP certificate already includes this.

A certificate as an airline transport pilot is the first step toward a career in the airline industry.

Obtaining an airline transport pilot certificate is a significant accomplishment for any pilot and is often the start of a professional career. FLYING Magazine provides resources for pilots at all levels of training, whether they are pursuing a private pilot certificate, an airline transport pilot certificate, or another rating. To stay up to date on all things aviation, sign up for the FlyingMag newsletter today.

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