New ATP written test requirements take effect Aug. 1

Higher costs, lengthier path expected under '1,500-hour rule'

June 25, 2014

AOPA encourages pilots thinking about going for the airline transport pilot certificate to take the knowledge test before Aug. 1.

AOPA is recommending that pilots who plan to earn an airline transport pilot certificate within the next couple of years take the ATP knowledge test before Aug. 1, when new rules will extend the training process and could significantly increase costs. 

The new training requirements flow from a final rule that went into effect last July. Under the new Pilot Certification and Qualification Requirements for Air Carrier Operations, first officers will be required to hold an ATP certificate—meaning that they must have at least 1,500 hours total time as a pilot—when hired. Lower time allowances for a restricted ATP certificate are given for university graduates and military pilots.

One of the final rule’s provisions will require applicants for an ATP certificate to complete a new, FAA-approved Airline Transport Pilot Certification Training Program (ATP CTP) prior to taking the knowledge (written) test, said David Oord, AOPA manager of regulatory affairs.

AOPA submitted formal comments on the proposed rulemaking and remains concerned that, to date, no ATP CTP courses are available to applicants.

AOPA encourages pilots thinking about going for the airline transport pilot certificate to take the knowledge test before Aug. 1.Still unknown, also, are costs and prerequisites. At a minimum, the programs will consist of 30 hours of academic coursework, and 10 hours of training in flight simulator training devices (FSTDs): six hours in a Level C or higher full flight simulator and four hours in a Level 4 or higher flight training device (FTD). Instructors for the training programs must hold an ATP certificate, and have had experience in Part 121 operations.  

"As courses are approved and available, AOPA has asked the FAA to provide an online list for prospective applicants," Oord said. 

Although the rule stands primarily to have an impact in the air-carrier sector, AOPA has concerns about the impact it could have on Part 61 flight training providers, many of whom will be essentially excluded from providing a pathway to airline-career training due to the higher time requirements. That, in turn, could have a chilling effect on new student pilot starts, AOPA said.

Oord urged pilots mapping out their ATP training plans to consider that ATP candidates who pass the knowledge test before the window closes under existing rules on Aug. 1 will have 24 calendar months to pass the ATP practical test. 

ATP knowledge tests completed after July 31, in accordance with the new training rule and taken only after completing the ATP CTP course, will be valid for 60 calendar months, Oord said. 

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz | Aviation Writer

Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.