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Pilots > Become an Airline Transport Pilot > Airline Transport Pilot Privileges and Requirements

Airline Transport Pilot Privileges and Requirements

What is an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate?

The ATP certificate is the highest level of pilot certification in the United States and is required for pilots operating as captains or first officers in Part 121 air carrier operations (airlines) and some other commercial aviation roles. It requires a minimum of 1,500 flight hours and completion of various training and knowledge requirements. ATP certificate holders are authorized to act as pilots in command (PIC) of large, multi-engine aircraft.

Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate Requirements

  1. Be at least 21 years of age (see R-ATP below) or 23 years of age, depending on the aeronautical experience requirements met.
  2. Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language.
  3. Be of good moral character.
  4. Hold a commercial pilot certificate with an instrument rating, a foreign airline transport pilot license with instrument privileges, or a foreign commercial pilot license with an instrument rating.
  5. Complete an approved ATP Certification Training Program (CTP) specified in 14 CFR 61.156.
    • This requirement is only valid if you are seeking the ATP certificate with a multi-engine rating. The ATP single-engine rating does not require the completion of an ATP CTP program.
  6. Pass a pilot knowledge test on the areas listed in 14 CFR 61.155(c) with a score of 70% or higher.
    • The ATP multi-engine airplane test (ATM) consists of 130 multiple-choice questions while the ATP single-engine airplane test (ATS) consists of 95 questions.
  7. Meet the aeronautical experience requirements that apply to the aircraft category and class rating sought before applying for the practical test.
  8. Pass the practical test on the areas of operation listed in 14 CFR 61.157(e) that apply to the aircraft category and class rating sought.

Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Aeronautical Experience Requirements

1,500 hours of total time as a pilot that includes at least:

  1. 500 hours of cross-country flight time.
  2. 100 hours of night flight time.
  3. 50 hours of flight time in the class of airplane for the rating sought.
    • A maximum of 25 hours of training in a full flight simulator may be credited toward this requirement.
  4. 75 hours of instrument flight time, in actual or simulated instrument conditions.
  5. 250 hours of flight time in an airplane as a pilot in command, or as second in command performing the duties of pilot in command while under the supervision of a pilot in command, or any combination thereof, subject to the following:
    • The flight time requirement must include at least
      • 100 hours of cross-country flight time; and
      • 25 hours of night flight time
  6. Not more than 100 hours of the total aeronautical experience requirements may be obtained in a full flight simulator or flight training device.

What is a Restricted Airline Transport Pilot Certificate (R-ATP)?

A restricted ATP (R-ATP) is a modification to the standard ATP requirements and allows pilots to obtain the ATP certificate with fewer flight hours than the usual 1,500 hours, with certain limitations.

The R-ATP minimum hour requirements are as follows:

  • 1,000 hours for graduates of an aviation bachelor’s degree program from an FAA-approved institution.
  • 1,250 hours for graduates of an associate degree program with an aviation major from an FAA-approved institution.

The R-ATP allows pilots to become first officers in Part 121 air carrier operations with the reduced flight hour requirement. However, there are certain limitations associated with R-ATP, such as the requirement to complete additional hours of flight experience (typically 500 hours) in certain conditions before acting as a captain in Part 121 operations.

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