Getting an air transport pilot licence (ATPL)

An air transport pilot licence (ATPL) lets you pilot or co-pilot any private or commercial operation.

To use an ATPL for the aircraft you want to fly, you must hold the right:

What you need to get an air transport pilot licence

To get an ATPL, you must:

Medical certificates for air transport pilot licences

We issue these medical certificate classes for an ATPL licence:

  • Class 1 to take the ATPL flight test.
  • Class 1 or Class 2 to fly an aircraft.

If you use a Class 2, you are limited to flying a commercial aircraft with:

  • a maximum take-off weight of under 8618 kilograms
  • no passengers.

You can also use a Class 2 if you're using your private pilot licence (PPL) licence.

You must carry your medical certificate with you whenever you are flying.

 

How to apply for an air transport pilot licence

  1. apply for an aircraft class rating or type rating

  2. learn the theory and train with a Part 142 flight training operator

  3. do the minimum flying experience

  4. do the minimum flying experience

  5. pass the ATPL flight test.

By the time you apply for your ATPL, you have probably done the training and minimum experience. This is because your hours as a commercial pilot count.

Once you have your ATPL, you can:

Keeping your air transport pilot licence current

To keep your ATPL aeroplane (ATPLA) licence active, you will do:

If you don’t have a current instrument proficiency check, you can still use a lower licence operating under visual flight rules (VFR).

For the ATPL helicopter (ATPLH), you must have:

  • a current flight review for the helicopter you are flying
  • a current IPC if you want to operate under instrument flight rules (IFR).

Theory and the exams for commercial pilot licences

Some of the subjects you will learn for an ATPL include:

  • air law
  • human factors (with a focus on multi-crew operations)
  • meteorology
  • navigation
  • flight planning
  • performance and aircraft loading
  • aerodynamics
  • aircraft systems
  • instrument rating theory (for the aeroplane licence).

You can study the theory yourself, for example, through a self-learning course. Or you can go to classes with a training provider.

The ATPL theory exam tests how well you know the theory of your chosen aircraft rating.

Training for air transport pilot licence

The ATPL flight training focuses on pilot-in-command in a multi-crew operation. It usually happens during command upgrade training.

ATPL training also covers:

  • instrument-rating skills, for aeroplane licence only
  • multi-crew operations
  • multi-engine aircraft skills
  • other generic piloting.

You will do an ATPL flight test when you finish the training.

Instrument ratings

You can operate under the VFR and IFR with an ATPLA. You don’t need a separate instrument rating.

The limitations are that you must:

  • have a valid IPC
  • meet the recent experience requirements.

If you want to fly IFR with your ATPLH, you must have a current:

  • instrument rating with a helicopter endorsement
  • IPC.

Otherwise, your options for an ATPLH are to:

  • get an ATPLH without holding an instrument rating
  • include the instrument rating standards in your ATPLH flight test.

Limitations on single-pilot IFR

If you hold an ATPL you can conduct a single-pilot IFR operation only if you have done one of these:

  • Passed the flight test for an instrument rating in a single-pilot aircraft – this doesn't have to be recent.
  • Completed an instrument proficiency check in a single-pilot aircraft – this doesn't have to be current.

Minimum hours for an air transport pilot licence

You can do these hours in any aircraft or any category except when conditions apply. If the condition is that you must fly a certain aircraft type, it must be recognised or registered.

Experience Hours for an ATPL-A Hours for an ATPL-H Conditions
Aeronautical experience 1500 1000 Up to 100 hours can be in a flight simulation training device (FSTD), including up to 25 hours in an FSTD that is not a flight simulator. Up to 100 hours can be in an FSTD, with up to 25 hours in an FSTD that is not a flight simulator. Up to 5 of those hours can be tethered flight time.
Flight time as pilot 1400 900 At least 750 hours must be in aeroplane (for ATPLA) or helicopter (for ATPLH)
Pilot in command (PIC) or pilot in command under supervision (PICUS) flight time 500 or 250 if at least 70 are PIC 250 with at least 70 as PIC Hours must be in an aeroplane for ATPLA or helicopter for ATPLH  
Cross-country flight time 200 200 Must be in aeroplane for ATPLA or helicopter for ATPLH
Cross-country flight time as PIC or PICUS 100 100 Must be in aeroplane for ATPLA or helicopter for ATPLH
Flight time at night other than dual 100 50 Must be in aeroplane for ATPLA or helicopter for ATPLH
Instrument time 75 30 N/A
Instrument flight time 45 20 Must be in aeroplane for ATPLA or helicopter for ATPLH

Regulations for air transport pilot licences

The rules for air transport pilots are in these sections of Part 61 of CASR Flight crew licencing:

  • Subpart 61.K – air transport pilot licences
  • Regulations 61.665 to 61.695 – limitations on exercise of privileges of air transport pilot licences
  • Regulation 61.700 to 61.715 – requirements for grant of air transport licences.
Last updated:
2 Mar 2022
Online version available at: https://www.casa.gov.au//licences-and-certificates/pilots/pilot-licences/air-transport-pilot-licences/getting-air-transport-pilot-licence-atpl
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