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Flight School Timeline with Milestones to Becoming a Commercial Pilot

Your goal is to become a commercial pilot and fly aircraft for a major or regional airline, but how do you get there, and how long does it take?

Whatever your goals, enrolling in flight school is the first milestone to becoming a professional pilot and pursuing a rewarding career.

In this guide, we’ll explain the milestones you’ll encounter throughout your commercial pilot training and how to earn your commercial pilot license with Leopard Aviation in Scottsdale, AZ.

How Long Does Flight Training Take?

The timeline to earn your pilot license changes depending on the type of pilot training you pursue. Flight training programs can take anywhere from:

  • Two months to get a private pilot certificate
  • Seven to ten months for a commercial pilot license
  • Two years for airline pilot programs

Becoming a commercial pilot with a major airline requires the most time and training but still does not require a bachelor’s degree.

Milestone 1: Pass the FAA Medical Exam

Before applying for a student pilot certificate, you must get a medical certificate approved by the FAA or Federal Aviation Administration. This medical exam ensures you pass a physical examination, and most pilots must have 20/20 vision with or without glasses.

Milestone 2: Become a Student Pilot

After medical exams, you have to acquire a student pilot certificate. To apply for a student pilots certificate, you must be able to read and write in English and be 17 years old.

This application process takes up to three weeks because you must pass written tests and total up to 40 hours of flight time with a certified flight instructor.

Milestone 3: Choose Your Path

Once you have your student pilot license, you have to choose which type of pilot you want to become because each entails different levels of commitment for courses you’ll study at ground school and flight hours.

Private Pilot Certificate

If you want to become a pilot for private aircraft, you can fly single-engine aircraft systems for recreational use. However, it’s not the best route if you want to make money or fly an aircraft with a multi-engine rating. Ground school courses for a private pilot license (PPL) take about three to four weeks to complete.

Commercial Airline Pilot License (CPL)

A commercial pilot license allows you to become a commercial pilot and fly charter flights, aerial tours, and aerial surveys or work as a first officer pilot, military pilot, or in air traffic control. However, you still cannot fly commercial regional and major airlines with this license.

Getting a commercial license takes around three months for single-engine aircraft and five months for commercial pilots to fly a multi-engine aircraft.

Airline Transport Pilot Certificate

The last level of pilot licensure is to become an airline pilot with an airline transport pilot license (ATP). With an airline pilot job, you can fly commercial airlines carrying passengers and cargo.

Airline pilots can fly for regional airports. However, you must be 23 years old, currently have your commercial pilots license, instrument rating training, and 1,500 hours of flight time. This can take some students up to two years.

Milestone 4: Complete Instrument Rating Training

After completing your base-level license of a PPL, you’ll move on to the next milestone: instrument flight rules training. During this milestone, you’ll learn how to fly an aircraft with precision.

You’ll learn about pitch, airspeed, altitude, and flying methods with flight instructors by your side. This process usually takes four weeks.

Milestone 5: Pass Practical Flying Exams

After instrument rating, you must pass the FAA knowledge exams and the practical flying checkride. This checkride is done with a pilot who has a flight instructor certificate from an accredited flight school.

Once you pass these tests, you can celebrate another milestone as you become a commercial airline pilot.

Milestone 6: Complete Minimum Flight Time Hours

Even after passing all these exams, you need hours of flight experience, which takes up a big chunk of your time when trying to become an airline pilot.

  • A private pilot license requires 40 hours in the air with a flight instructor
  • A commercial pilot certificate requires 250 hours
  • An airline transport pilot certificate requires 1,500 hours

Logging flight hours can take anywhere from two months for private pilots and up to three years for a commercial airline pilot.

Milestone 7: Apply for the Job

If you dream of becoming commercial airline pilot, then the final milestone in your journey is applying to the airline job of your dreams. All airlines require ATP licensure, but some may require specific qualifications from commercial airline pilots.

Applying for your job as a commercial airline pilot and, hopefully, getting the job is the final milestone that deserves celebrating.

Interesting in Becoming a Commercial Pilot? Learn to Fly with Leopard Aviation

To become a pilot, you need to find a trusted commercial pilot school to begin your pilot’s journey. Leopard Aviation is one of the top flight schools in the country, offering brand-new aircraft and flexible schedules with the same Certified Flight Instructor throughout your flight school training.

Call Leopard Aviation at (833) 359-5735 to fulfill your dream of becoming a commercial pilot today!

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