Connect with us


How To Get an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate



In the United States, the airline transport pilot certificate is the highest level of certification for pilots. The ATP is a certificate of completion in terms of flight hours, academic requirements, and practical exams, and it is required for many of the most sought-after jobs in professional aviation.

Though the paths to obtaining an ATP certificate vary, the end result is an accomplishment that any pilot can be proud of. Let’s go over the process of obtaining your ATP certification step by step.

What Exactly Is an Airline Transport Pilot License?

The ATP is the world’s final certificate (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 to hold an ATP to receive a limited version valid only in certain operations in the United States.

What Can an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate Get You?

An ATP is required to fly for a Part 121 airline, to serve as pilot in command (PIC) in some Part 135 operations, or to fly an aircraft with more than 30 passenger seats.
Many more professional pilots may be required to hold an ATP due to insurance requirements. An ATP holder receives all of the benefits of a commercial certificate and is presumed to have an instrument rating.

With an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate, what types of aircraft can you fly?

An ATP allows the holder to fly all aircraft in the category and class except those that require an aircraft-specific type rating, special federal air regulation (SFAR) training, or optional endorsements, such as tailwheel-equipped aircraft.

Because type ratings must be flown to ATP standards, it is not uncommon for pilots to apply for their ATP certificate practical exam alongside a type rating.

The Advantages of an Airline Transport Pilot License

An ATP certificate makes a pilot very marketable because it demonstrates that he or she has invested significant time and energy in flight training as well as meeting the standards required of the practical exam.
For applicants of an aeroplane multiengine land class ATP, the FAA mandated the addition of the Certification Training Program (commonly known as the ATP-CTP) in 2014. For pilots who complete their ATP training on their own rather than through an employer, the additional course can add significant cost.

Requirements for an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate

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

  • You must be at least 23 years old.
  • Have a good moral character.
  • Have a commercial pilot’s licence and an instrument rating in your category and class.
  • Comply with the flight time requirements outlined in FAR 61.159.
  • Pass the relevant written and practical exams.

How to Obtain an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate in 5 Easy Steps

The steps to completing the ATP on your own are fairly straightforward for a pilot looking to complete the ATP on your own. You should be familiar with knowledge tests, practical exams, and what to expect on check ride day by this point in your professional pilot career.

Step 1: Complete the Required Minimum Hours

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 for pilots applying for an unrestricted ATP.

FAR 61.160 details the specific requirements for pilots applying for a Restricted ATP (R-ATP) depending 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 International Civil Aviation Organization’s requirements (ICAO).

Step 2: If necessary, complete the CTP Course.

Only applicants for an ATP or R-ATP in the aeroplane multiengine land class are required to complete a Certification Training Program (CTP). The standalone CTP course typically lasts about a week and includes lectures on aerodynamics, meteorology, air carrier operations, and crew resource management (CRM).

This is combined with 10 hours of aircraft training in a flight training device (FTD) and full motion simulator modelling an aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight of at least 40,000 pounds. The FAA has created a PDF with a list of approved CTP providers.

Step 3: Pass the FAA Written Exam.

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

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

Step 4: Completing the Mandatory Flight Training

You can apply for the practical exam once you have completed the required minimum flight times and your CTP course, if applicable.

There is no instructor sign off required, but depending on how you complete the ATP—as a standalone checkride, through an airline training programme, or concurrent with an aircraft type rating examination—you may have to go through a diverse training regimen to achieve proficiency.

Step 5: Finish the Practical Exam

The airline transport pilot certificate is the highest level of certification available, regardless of category or class. Both the oral examination and the flight portion of the check ride are held to high standards, and will cover many aspects of both normal and emergency operations, as well as manoeuvring, navigation, and various instrument procedures.

The temporary certificate will be delivered at the conclusion of a successful practical. Remember that your new certificate will say “Airline Transport Pilot,” but it will no longer show the instrument rating in the category in which you’re completing the check ride—already it’s included in an ATP certificate.

An Airline Transport Pilot Certificate is the first step in a career in the airline industry.

Obtaining an airline transport pilot certificate is typically the start of a professional career and a huge accomplishment for any pilot. FLYING Magazine provides resources for pilots at all stages of flight training, whether you are pursuing your private pilot certificate, airline transport pilot certificate, or any rating in between. Subscribe to the FlyingMag newsletter today to stay up to date on all things aviation.