A carrer in aviation is an exciting, adventurous path to choose, but many times it is hard to understand the process of becoming a professional pilot. There are many career paths to choose from, and understanding your training options makes it a little easier to make an informed decision.
Private Pilot License: The first step in becoming a professional pilot is obtaining your private pilot’s license. This certificate allows you to operate general aviation aircraft, such as the Cessna-172 or the Piper Arrow. You may take passengers along with you, but you may not use this license to get compensated for your flying abilities (yet).
Instrument Rating: This rating allows you to fly in instrument meteorological conditions. This means weather such as rainstorms or flying through overcast conditions. This rating is also needed for the airlines since most of the time you are using instrument flight rules when operating a large commercial airliner.
Commercial Pilot License: This rating will allow you to get compensated for your flying abilities, however you may not hold your self out to the public. This basically means that you are not allowed to advertise your services to the public. You may however obtain a job at an airline or other aviation company and receive compensation for piloting their aircraft.
Airline Transport Pilot Certificate:
To be eligible for an Airline Transport Pilot certificate, you must know English and:
- Be at least 23 years of age; AND
- Be of good moral character.
You must already hold one of the following pilot certificates:
- If US certified: at least a commercial pilot with an instrument rating; OR
- ICAO country: ATP or commercial pilot with an instrument rating, without limitations, subject to background check.
The experience required for an airplane ATP certificate is outlined below.
- at least 1,500 hours of total time as a pilot
- 500 hours of CROSS-COUNTRY flight time
- 100 hours of NIGHT time or 75 hours + 45 full stop landings at night
- 75 hours of instrument flight time, or 50 flight + 25 simulator
* flight time – logged time between engine start and engine shutdown after a flight in an actual airplane
* simulator time – logged DUAL instruction in a certified flight simulator or flight training device representing an airplane
* cross country – trips of 50 NM and more can be logged and used for ATP experience purposes even without a landing (private pilot and commercial pilot cross-country requires a landing)
With a 1st or 2nd Class Medical, ATPs can exercise all of the privileges of a commercial pilot with an instrument rating.
- FAA Airline regulations require ATP for captains of IFR passenger flights in turbine and multi-engine airplanes
- ATPs may instruct pilots in air transportation service in aircraft they are rated and simulators
- ATPs may endorse pilot logbooks for the training given
The ATP rating allows you to operate for FAA part 135 or part 121 air carrier operators, this means airlines or other private companies.
A type rating is an allowance to fly a certain aircraft type that requires additional training beyond the scope of initial license and aircraft class training. What aircraft require a type rating is decided by the local aviation authority. In many countries pilots of single-engined aircraft under a certain maximum weight (5,700 kg or 12,500 lb, typically) do not require a type rating for each model, all or most such aircraft being covered by one class rating instead.