More About The Airline Transport Pilot License

Basic Requirements

Here are just a few of the basics requirements for the ATP License. We'll discuss what's entailed in each of these requirements later in this section.

You must be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English Language
You must be able to obtain a 1st class medical certificate
You must be 23 years of age
You must hold at least a commercial pilot license with instrument rating
You must have 1500 hours total flying time
You must have 500 hours cross-country flight time
You must have 75 hours of actual or simulated instrument flight time
You must pass the FAA ATP written exam
You must pass the ATP Oral and Practical Exam


The training for your ATP will be nothing new in terms of maneuvers or procedures. The only difference is the practical test standards are higher. The tolerances are tighter because at this point you are a professional pilot with a considerable amount of flight time and therefore should able to fly like one.

Training primarily focuses on polishing up your instrument flying skills it the multi-engine aircraft you will use for the check ride. If you do the training on your own it can be as little as 8-10 hours of prep. If you work for a 135-charter operator or 121 air-carrier it is usually provided as part of a FAA approved upgrade or transition training program.


The test for the ATP as mentioned earlier is fairly straightforward. It's a demonstration of your multi-engine and instrument skills held to a higher standard. By the time you've reach this milestone the flying is the easy part. The aeronautical knowledge, decision-making, and responsibility of the ATP license is what the license is all about.

The FAA Written

The written test for the ATP like all other licenses and ratings is an 80 question computerized test. The questions consist primarily of part 135 and 121 regulations, hazardous materials, high altitude and high-speed aerodynamics, and transport category performance data.

The FAA Oral Exam

The examiner will focus his or her questions on the areas appropriate to the type of company your are currently flying for, ie part 91, 121 air carrier or 135 charter operator. You will also discuss your aircrafts systems and limitations.  However the primary objective of the oral is to determine whether you are fully capable of the duties and responsibilities associated with the ATP license.  As the pilot in command you and you alone are responsible for the safety of your crew, passengers, and cargo aboard your aircraft as well as the reputation of the company you are flying for. This is what sets the ATP license above rest.

The FAA Practical Exam

By the time you pass the written and oral for the ATP the flight will be a breeze. If you work for an air carrier or charter operator the flight portion can be conducted in a multi-engine aircraft or flight simulator if available. The advantage of the simulator is that the examiner can test anything and everything without compromising safety. During the flight test you will perform instrument approaches (both engines operating and one engine inoperative), abnormal and emergency procedures, and basic maneuvers such as stalls and steep turns.


The costs for the ATP license vary. If you choose to get the ATP on your own you need to budget at least 5-10 hours of flight time in a multi engine aircraft. Some companies and flight schools offer a package deal for obtaining your ATP. This includes written test preparation and flight training to get you up to speed in their aircraft. These courses are pretty quick and painless compared to training for other licenses or ratings. Some can even be done in the course of a few days. If you're lucky to work for a part 135 charter operator or part 121 air carrier then the cost to you is nothing. Your investment is the time and energy in training and preparation for your check ride. Be sure to contact one the fbos or schools on our websites to learn more about he availability of training for the ATP in your area.

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