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FlightSafety Academy

Taking Steps to be an Airline Pilot

Becoming an airline pilot can be a rewarding career path to take. While FlightSafety Academy starts you on this lucrative journey, what can you expect about the process?

Airline or commercial pilots need to first earn a Private Pilot License (PPL). Some cadets enter FlightSafety Academy with a PPL, while others start their training here from the beginning, which is called ab initio training. In either case, next you’ll learn how to fly under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), which means being able to fly in weather that offers poor or no visibility.

Your training continues with a commercial single-engine certificate, which takes you into the world of flying professionally. Next up is a commercial multi-engine rating. Having a multi-engine rating allows pilots to start training on specific commercial aircraft, including larger jets used by airlines.

The next step for most pilots is to become a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI). Being a CFI provides you with a number of advantages: you can earn money while you continue to perfect your pilot skills all while building flight hours to meet minimum airline hiring requirements.

Pilots in the United States must have 1,500 flight hours before they are eligible to receive their Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate. There are many paths to get to that number but working as a CFI is the most efficient. Other ways to get to 1,500 include flying cargo, charter (Part 135 or 91) or ferrying aircraft. Don’t forget about sightseeing, banner towing, crop-dusting or surveying flights, too.

U.S.-based airlines only hire pilots who have an ATP and their 1,500 hours. Usually airline pilots begin as first officers or co-pilots before earning experience and seniority to become captains. Regional or commuter airlines are great places to get experience on a variety of aircraft, as are international airlines.

As an airline First Officer or Captain, you can expect to be in high demand for employment as routes expand and a growing segment of pilots hit retirement age. FlightSafety Academy gives you a foundation of success upon which to start your career.

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Take the next steps to begin an aviation career. Here’s what you need to know before beginning.

FlightSafety Academy commercial pilot resources