What’s the Difference Between MPL and ATPL?

If you are an aspiring pilot who is about to embark on the journey of gaining your license you may be wondering what the difference is between MPL and ATPL.

The former refers to the Multi-Crew Pilot Licence and was introduced in 2006 by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. It provides an alternative to traditional training methods that are followed on the ATPL syllabus.

This license focuses on operations of the in-craft air phase and allows individuals to act as co-pilot and perform multi-crew procedures. Those with this license also become familiar with the in-flight environment at a much earlier stage than those with an APTL.

Pilots with an MPL license are only permitted to operate commercial aircraft with a multi-pilot environment. As such, it is not possible to work for an airline where you would be the single pilot on the aircraft. It is possible to convert this license to an APTL once you have completed 15,000 hours.

Training for this license involves the use of simulators, competency-based training with the ability to respond to threats and error. Upon completing their training, MPL co-pilots will successfully be able to operate multi-engine commercial aircraft.

APTL refers to the Airport Transport Pilot Licence and is the highest type of license that a pilot can possess.

To get ATPL pilots are required to have completed their training with the necessary experience for the type rating of the aircraft that is going to be used in the skill test.

Aspiring pilots will endure many stages of training to fly commercial aircraft with 9 or more seats. It also focuses on operating aircraft with single or multi engines rather than multiple crew. 

You can follow many routes to gain an ATPL license and the training is expected to take around 18 months to complete. Typically, those with an ATPL license will not become familiar with an in-flight multi-crew environment until they have come towards the end of training.

Upon completion, pilots will have a frozen ATPL which will only become ‘’unfrozen’’ when they have completed their 15,000 hours. Despite this, it is possible to apply for jobs before this.

One of the most noticeable differences is in how each of the courses can be completed. An ATPL offers greater flexibility whilst an MPL is purely a full-time course with little leeway regarding how it can be taken. It is particularly pursued with a specific airline too.

Both courses are highly competitive and whilst both offer decent job opportunities, the prospects with an MPL are slightly more limiting. With an APTL you can select the airline you would like to work for but with an MPL, you will be employed by a specific airline and will only be able to change this once your license has been converted into an APTL and your hours have been completed.

Which is better: ATPL or MPL?

There are advantages and disadvantages associated with both types of training programs. Both types of licenses provide pilots with a viable way of training to become a successful pilot.

When deciding which is better, it is important to account for factors such as the cost of training for and gaining this license, the availability of jobs, your flying record, flexibility, in-flight experience, and flexibility.

As MPL training is typically completed as part of an affiliate training program, you will receive a conditional job offer once you have finished your training. As such, you have greater job security in knowing that the airline has chosen you to join their team.

On the other hand, this can also bring some disadvantages because you are restricted to working with this airline until you have recorded enough hours to get an ATPL. With an ATPL you aren’t going to be as restricted in the company that you can work for because so long as your employment record allows you to apply for any company that you would like.

It also depends on the type of aircraft that you want to fly because an ATPL entitles you to fly lighter aircraft whilst an MPL does not. Many would suggest that an MPL is more cost-effective than an ATPL because the initial costs are lower, however, to get an ATPL you will also need a type rating which is an additional expense.

What is the difference between MPL and CPL?

A CPL is a Commercial Pilot License and allows pilots to act as the pilot in command for single/smaller aircraft or as the co-pilot for multi-crew aircraft.

Individuals must complete at least 25 hours of training and the course itself takes around three weeks to finish. You will also require a type rating before your training can commence.

Once you have completed your training you can continue to build your hours through employment. Similar to an MPL, you can upgrade your CPL to an ATPL by completing more hours of training.

One of the most noticeable differences between both types of training is how they are taught and differences in syllabus training. The type of aircraft that you can fly is also different.