What does ATP stand for?

ATP stands for the Airline Transport Pilot. Holders of an ATP certificate have the authority to act as ‘Pilot in Command’ on scheduled air carriers’ aircraft.

The certificate is the highest level of aircraft pilot certificate possible in the United States. 

Additionally, any pilot in operation of an aircraft must first obtain his or hers Commercial Pilot License (CPL). They must also be knowledgeable and fully trained in all necessary knowledge areas.

In order to pilot an aircraft weighing over 12, 500 pounds, the pilot must also attain a ‘Type Rating’ certificate, specific to the make and model of the aircraft.

What is an Airline Transport Pilot certificate?

An Airline Transport Pilot certificate is the highest level of aircraft pilot certificate. A pilot who holds an ATP certificate will be authorized to act as PIC (Pilot in Command) on scheduled air carriers’ aircraft.

In order to attain this certification, the candidate must complete a number of knowledge and theoretical tests as well as achieve a ‘Type Rating’ certificate.

The theoretical subject areas included in the FAA ATP CTP examination are:

  • Aircraft general knowledge
  • General navigation
  • Aviation law
  • Mass and balance
  • Communications (IFR & VFR)
  • Radio navigation
  • Flight planning and monitoring
  • Operational procedures
  • Human performance and limitations
  • Meteorology
  • Principles of flight
  • Performance
  • Instrumentation

How do I get an Airline Transport Pilot certificate?

Before embarking on obtaining an Airline Transport Pilot certificate, you must find out if you are eligible for one.

You will need to pass an FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) practical test. To be eligible to take the test, you must have at least 1, 500 hours of flight experience in an aircraft. This includes 250 hours as a ‘Pilot in Command’ (PIC) and be at least 23 years old.

The FAA ATP certificate requires candidates to pass a theoretical knowledge test which covers all the necessary knowledge areas. 

Applicants will also be required to undertake the ATP CTP (Airline Transport Pilot Certification Training Program). This will cost $5, 000 but is generally paid for by the hiring airline.

This course needs to be completed on top of the knowledge test and cannot be considered a substitute for it. 

Additionally, the candidate will need to embark on several weeks of independent study using provided training software. They will not be able to pass this test without this additional self study.

The FAA ATP flight test is typically taken in a light piston aircraft, providing the applicant has completed their 1, 500 hours of flight experience. In addition to this, the FAA will require candidates to obtain a ‘Type Rating’ in order to pilot large aircraft or jets.

A lot of FAA certified pilots will complete the Part 121 Airline Training program and Type Rating checkride. This route will enable them to obtain their ATP certificate and Type Rating at the same time.

If an applicant only wanted to perform Second-in-Command duties, there are also restricted licenses available. 

To be eligible for a restricted license a candidate must meet one of the following criteria:

  • He or she may be a Military pilot aged 21 years or older and have completed at least 750 flight hours
  • He or she may be a graduate with a two-year degree in aviation, so long as they have at least 1, 250 hours of flight experience and are at least 21 years of age
  • He or she may be a pilot with at least 1, 500 hours of flight experience and aged 21 years or older 

He or she may also be a graduate with a four-year degree in aviation from the following approved universities (this is not an exhaustive list, check with your individual college if it is FAA approved) and have 1000 hours of total flight time and are 21 years or older: 

  • The University of Oklahoma
  • Delta State University
  • Bowling Green State University
  • The Ohio State University
  • Southeastern Oklahoma State University 

If the pilot would like to remove the restriction at a later date they may do so if they achieve the necessary requirements. 

How long is multi engine ATP?

The ATP multi engine rating program will add multi engine privileges to a pilot’s existing Commercial or Private Pilot certificate.

The program includes all necessary flight and ground training required by the Multi Engine Airman Certification Standards.

The course typically lasts five days and provides up to eight hours of flight training as well as the use of the aircraft for checkride.

A ‘checkride’ is just another name for the FAA practical test required to receive an ATP or to attain a rating for additional flight privileges.

This part of the application process includes the candidate being examined by a designated pilot examiner while they fly an aircraft, to demonstrate their competency and skills required to obtain the certificate.