How do I Become an Airline Commercial Pilot?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 24 February 2020
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In most places, an individual who wants to become an airline commercial pilot has to undergo flight school training, log a minimum number of hours of flying, and earn a commercial pilot certificate. He will usually have to pass a written test as well. A person who is interested in this career usually has to take a check-ride, which is similar to a vehicle driving test. Additionally, a person pursuing this career may need a medical certificate, both an instrument and multi-engine rating, and flight experience before he can be hired for this job.

In most places, a person who wants to become become an airline commercial pilot may do well to earn a college degree in order to pursue this field. Many airlines give preference to individuals who hold degrees, even if they are not in aviation. Since commercial airline pilot requirements may vary from country to country and even among different airlines in the same country, a person interested in this field may do well to contact airlines based in his country to learn the exact requirements.


There are basically two ways a person may seek training to become an airline commercial pilot. A person may, for example, enter the military and work toward becoming a military pilot. During his time spent in the military, a pilot will usually gain the training, experience, and ratings necessary to apply to become a pilot with a commercial airline. This option, however, requires a person to make a commitment to serving his country and performing a range of rigorous military duties in addition to flying. As such, a person may do well to carefully consider both the benefits and consequences of joining the military before pursuing this path.

An individual interested in civilian training typically enrolls in flight school in preparation for earning a commercial pilot certificate. This usually requires the aspiring pilot to pass his flight school's training program, pass a written test, and log a minimum of 250 hours of flying time. Then, an aspiring commercial pilot usually has to pass a check-ride test. This is similar to a driving test, as an examiner accompanies the aspiring pilot on a flight and asks him to demonstrate his ability to perform certain maneuvers. The examiner may also ask the test taker pertinent aviation questions to gauge his level of knowledge.

After an individual passes his check-ride, an examiner may issue a commercial pilot’s certificate. His preparation isn’t over at this point, however. In many places, a person who wants to become an airline commercial pilot also needs a medical certificate, which indicates that he meets certain health requirements. He’ll usually need an instrument rating as well, which requires him to complete instrument school, log a minimum amount of time flying without good visibility, and pass another check-ride that is focused on instrumentation. Likewise, an aspiring commercial pilot usually needs to take classes related to multi-engine flying and pass another check-ride for his multi-engine rating.

A person who wants to become an airline commercial pilot usually needs significant flight experience with different types of aircraft in order to get a job in this field. Different airlines may have varied requirements for flight experience time, but most will not hire those with just enough flight hours to secure a commercial pilot license; many prefer individuals who’ve logged thousands of flight hours. Additionally, those who wish to captain a commercial airline usually need an airline transport pilot certificate. To obtain this certificate, a person usually has to log at least 1500 flight hours with at least 250 hours as the captain of an aircraft. He usually has to pass another written test and meet other requirements as well.


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