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How to Become an Airline Pilot

How to Become an Airline Pilot

Why Become an Airline Pilot

  • One of the Highest Paying Careers Not Requiring a Four Year Degree
  • Excellent Benefits Including Free Flights
  • Industry Demand is Growing Rapidly
  • Exciting and Fun, Flying Never Gets Old
  • Awesome Views Out the Office Windows
  • See the World
  • Meet Lots of New People

Step 1 Take a Discovery Flight

The first step to becoming an airline pilot is taking a discovery flight. During this flight the instructor will let you take the controls and get a true feel for what it is like to fly an airplane. Most people find this flight exciting and discover it really opens their eyes to what is possible with aviation. This flight provides you with a chance to determine if this really is something you want to pursue before investing a lot of time and money. 

Click Here to Book a Discovery Flight.

Step 2 Get Your Flight Medical

A class 1 Flight Medical is required to be an airline transport pilot. While for flight training no medical is required until it is time to solo, we strongly recommend getting a medical at the early stages of your training. If you have any known health issues or are taking any medications it is even more important to get your medical out of the way. Postponing this important step could wind up causing you to waste a lot of your time and money if you are not able to pass a flight physical.

A flight physical is similar to standard physical, however it is administered by an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) and they will look into certain things that could jeopardize your ability to safely operate an aircraft.

Go Here To Find an Aviation Medical Examiner

Or Here for a List of Examiners by State

Step 3 Get Your TSA Endorsement

In order for you to start taking flight lessons you must show proof of citizenship to your instructor. If you are not a U.S. citizen you may apply for training approval with the TSA. If you need to submit an application feel free to give us a call for assistance in this process. 

To prove citizenship you will need to bring one of the following to show your instructor:

  1. Valid U.S. passport
  2. Original or government issued birth certificate of the U.S., American Samoa, or Swains Island AND a government issued picture ID
  3. Original certificate of U.S. citizenship with raised seal (Form N-560 or N-561) or a certificate of repatriation (Form N-581) AND a government issued picture ID
  4. Original certificate of birth abroad with raised seal (Form FS-545 or DS-1350) AND a government issued picture ID
  5. Original U.S. Naturalization Certificate with raised seal (Form N-550 or N-570) AND a government issued picture ID

Once you provide one of the above options to your instructor they must make an entry in your student logbook as well as their records. Once you have this endorsement you may start flight training. However keep in mind if you switch flight schools or instructors you will need to show one of the above options to your new instructor unless they work for the same school and know you. 

Check Out This Article from AOPA For more details on TSA Endorsements

Step 4 Get Your Student Pilot Certificate

Your instructor will help you apply for your Student Pilot Certificate using the FAA Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) system. Once the FAA approves your application they will issue you a Student Pilot Certificate which you will receive in the mail. This certificate will be required before you can fly solo. 

Step 5 Get Your Private Pilot License

This is the first license all pilots receive on the journey of becoming an airline pilot. This license allows you to fly for recreation and travel and take passengers. While training for your private pilot license you will focus on the fundamentals of aviation including aerodynamics, aircraft maneuvers, aviation navigation, communication, and weather. This training will lay the foundation on which the rest of your training will build on. 

Step 6 Get Your Instrument Rating

An instrument rating will allow you to fly in low and zero visibility conditions by reference solely to the aircraft instruments. During this training you will refine your level of control of the aircraft, learn advanced navigation and communication procedures and expand on your knowledge of aviation weather. 

Step 7 Get Your Commercial Pilot License

Obtaining your commercial pilot license will allow you to finally start getting paid for your flying skills. Training for this license involves mastering the fundamentals learned previously, more maneuvers, and a lot of time building. 

Step 8 Become a Certified Flight Instructor

A flight instructor rating is required to start teaching other people how to fly. This is the most common first pilot job and a great way to start building time. Training to be a certified flight instructor includes training on the fundamentals of teaching, learning to fly from the right seat, and spin recovery training!

Step 9 Build Time and Experience

Next up is to meet the time requirements for the Airline Transport Pilot Certificate which consists of 1,500 Hours including 500 hours of cross-country time, 100 hours of night time, 75 hours of instrument time, and 250 hours of time as pilot in command. Common ways to build time are working as a flight instructor, performing pipeline patrol, flying sky-divers, and other entry level flying jobs. 

Step 10 Apply for Regional Airlines

Once you have met airline transport pilot requirements you will start applying for regional airlines. Most of these airlines will provide the training to acquire the ATP rating and type ratings for the aircraft they operate. Once you complete your training after being hired on by a regional airline you are officially an airline pilot!

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