The ATP is the highest grade of pilot certificate that the FAA can bestow. You'll need the ATP in order to act as the pilot-in-command of a scheduled airliner. (Most airlines now require both the captain and first officer to hold ATP ratings.)
To take your ATP checkride, you'll need to hold at least a commercial pilot's license appropriate to the class of aircraft (single or multi-engine,) plus an instrument rating. You'll also need to have logged at least 1,500 hours of flight time, including 500 hours of cross-country flight time (among other requirements.)
We can train you for your ATP certificate in our twin-engine Beech Duchess. (Although it's possible to earn a single-engine-only ATP certificate in our Cessna 172RG Cutlass, a single-engine ATP certificate isn't very useful for most pilots.) Two of our flight instructors are also ATP-rated: Keith Amaro & Kareem Fahmi. They'd be happy to help you. To contact them, visit the "Instructors" page.
We've also provided a helpful FAQ (below.)
Why get the ATP certificate?
If you've got your heart set on an airline job, you'll need to earn the ATP certificate. Most airlines tend to treat the ATP as a pre-requisite for all new applicants. Even if you don't plan to fly for the airlines, the rigorous nature of ATP training will place you in a very select class of highly-trained, highly-proficient pilots.
Is it safe?
By the time you get to this stage, you'll have at least 1,500 hours of flight time, so you'll already be a highly skilled pilot. Your ATP training will sharpen those skills even further, by training you to deal with multiple emergencies while in instrument conditions in a multiengine aircraft.
How difficult is it?
The ATP checkride is the most difficult checkride you will face. Expect to spend 3 to 4 hours on the (very intensive) oral exam, followed by a checkride that will test all of your piloting skills to the limit.
How long will it take?
Assuming you already hold your commercial (multiengine) certificate with an instrument rating, and are proficient at instrument flight in multiengine aircraft, training for the ATP certificate can be accomplished in 10--15 hours of flight time. If you're not instrument-proficient, or it's been a while since you flew a multiengine airplane, more training will be required.
How much flight experience do I need?
In order to take the ATP checkride, you must be at least 23 years old. You'll need to have logged at least 1,500 hours of total flight time as a pilot, and you must hold a commercial pilot certificate with an instrument rating. The 1,500 hours of total flight time must include at least 500 hours of cross-country flight time.
How much will it cost?
Assuming that you are proficient and current at multiengine instrument flying, and you log 10 hours of dual, you can expect to spend about $4,000.
Can I get a student loan to finance my flight training?
Sure! We offer discounted student loans through U.S. Bank in San Francisco, one of the largest lenders in the United States. You can finance part or all of your training costs, and choose from various repayment options. To learn more, click here.
Do I have to attend ground school?
As with any rating or certificate, no formal ground school is required. You will, however, be required to thoroughly review textbooks and other prep materials that your instructor will assign you. The ATP oral exam is considerably more detailed than the commercial-pilot oral exam.
What does the exam for the ATP certificate involve?
As with most ratings and certificates, you'll need to take a computerized test. (We provide certified testing services through CATS, a nationwide testing provider.) Your oral exam will last about 3--4 hours, and will cover topics listed on the FAA Practical Test Standards. Your flight test will take about 2 hours, and will cover the maneuvers and procedures listed in the PTS.
What can I do with an ATP certificate?
If you want to act as pilot-in-command of a scheduled air service, you'll need your ATP rating. In practice, nearly all airlines require both their captains and first officers to hold the ATP. Also, most airlines view the ATP as a prerequisite for new applicants.