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What is an Airline Transport Pilot?

An Airline Transport Pilot (commonly called an ATP) is tested to the highest level of piloting ability. The certificate is a prerequisite for acting as a PIC (pilot-in-command) in scheduled airline operations.  Those certified as Airline Transport Pilots are authorized to act as PIC of an aircraft in air carrier service in aircraft with a max gross weight over 12,500 pounds or 5,700 kg and/or over 9 passenger seats.

What are the eligibility requirements to obtaine an Airline Transport certificate? 

1.     Be at least 23 years of age;

2.     Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language. If the applicant is unable to meet one of these requirements due to medical reasons, then the Administrator may place such operating limitations on that applicant's pilot certificate as are necessary for the safe operation of the aircraft;

3.     Be of good moral character;

4.     Meet at least one of the following requirements:

a.     Holds a commercial pilot certificate with an instrument rating issued under this part;

b.     Meet the military experience requirements under §61.73 of this part to qualify for a commercial pilot certificate, and an instrument rating if the person is a rated military pilot or former rated military pilot of an Armed Force of the United States; or

c.     Holds either a foreign airline transport pilot license with instrument privileges, or a foreign commercial pilot license with an instrument rating, that

(i)             Was issued by a contracting State to the Convention on International Civil Aviation; and

(ii)             Contains no geographical limitations.

5.     Meet the aeronautical experience requirements of this subpart that apply to the aircraft category and class rating sought before applying for the practical test;

6.      Pass a knowledge test on the aeronautical knowledge areas of §61.155(c) of this part that apply to the aircraft category and class rating sought;

7.      Pass the practical test on the areas of operation listed in §61.157(e) of this part that apply to the aircraft category and class rating sought; and

8.      Comply with the sections of this subpart that apply to the aircraft category and class rating sought.


What aeronautical knowledge is required for the Airline Transport Pilot certificate?

§ 61.155

(a) General. The knowledge test for an airline transport pilot certificate is based on the aeronautical knowledge areas listed in paragraph (c) of this section that are appropriate to the aircraft category and class rating sought.

(b) Aircraft type rating. A person who is applying for an additional aircraft type rating to be added to an airline transport pilot certificate is not required to pass a knowledge test if that person's airline transport pilot certificate lists the aircraft category and class rating that is appropriate to the type rating sought.

(c) Aeronautical knowledge areas. (1) Applicable Federal Aviation Regulations of this chapter that relate to airline transport pilot privileges, limitations, and flight operations;

(2) Meteorology, including knowledge of and effects of fronts, frontal characteristics, cloud formations, icing, and upper-air data;

(3) General system of weather and NOTAM collection, dissemination, interpretation, and use;

(4) Interpretation and use of weather charts, maps, forecasts, sequence reports, abbreviations, and symbols;

(5) National Weather Service functions as they pertain to operations in the National Airspace System;

(6) Windshear and microburst awareness, identification, and avoidance;

(7) Principles of air navigation under instrument meteorological conditions in the National Airspace System;

(8) Air traffic control procedures and pilot responsibilities as they relate to en route operations, terminal area and radar operations, and instrument departure and approach procedures;

(9) Aircraft loading, weight and balance, use of charts, graphs, tables, formulas, and computations, and their effect on aircraft performance;

(10) Aerodynamics relating to an aircraft's flight characteristics and performance in normal and abnormal flight regimes;

(11) Human factors;

(12) Aeronautical decision making and judgment; and

(13) Crew resource management to include crew communication and coordination.