Real Answers from Real Pilots


Hello All,
Im new to the forum and I’ve been enjoying the topics. I have just a couple of questions for current airline pilots and/or future airline pilots.

Currently I’m 24 years old, and I’ve always dreamed of becoming an airline pilot since the age of 7. A friend has told me I should follow my dream and pointed me to ATP as he know someone who went through the program. Im really interested in the program however I have a couple of questions:

  1. Currently working full-time and making decent money, will the transition be hard?
  2. The 70k figure thats mentions are their any grants or scholarships available to help reduce the price?
  3. What is process of flying for a major airline (Based of experience from ATP)? CFI --> Regional —> Major Airline?
  4. Is the TWO year timeline ATP provides accurate? as its hard to believe that I can literally be an airline pilot in two years.

Thanks a lot! :slight_smile:

Hello Earv and welcome,

I’m glad you’re enjoying the forum and hopefully find it helpful it your possible pursuit of a career in aviation. You’ve got some questions so let’s get right to them.

  1. That’s a REALLY difficult question to answer. First off you say you’re making “decent money”, I’m not quite sure what you consider “decent” but here are a few things for you to consider:
    a) The first 6 mos in training you’ll be earning $0. Can you float your life, bills etc with no income?
    b) The next 1.5 - 2 yrs working as an instructor you’ll be earning somewhere around $30k (not counting Tuition reimbursement) can you live on that?
    c) Your first few years at a Regional airline you’ll be making high $30’s-low 40s (not counting signing bonuses), how’s that work for you? Again I have no idea what you’re currently earning or what your expenses are. Only you know if these numbers are satisfactory?

  2. As far as I’m aware there are no grants or loans available for flight training. There are however student loans available, and as I mentioned, Tuition Reimbursement programs as well.

  3. You are correct. You build time as a CFI, get hired at a Regional, build time there, and eventually get hired at a Major (keep in mind there are no guarantees).

  4. Yes it is. Again the training program is 100 days (approx. 6 mos) that leaves you 18 mos (give or take) to build the 1500 hr requirement for a Regional airline (you complete training with about 225 hrs leaving a balance of 1275. 1275/18mos= a very realistic 71 hrs a month). AND the current hiring environment at the Regionals is such that 1500hrs is not only the minimum, it’s what they’re hiring at. If you have any doubts I recommend you visit ANY of the Regional airline hiring sites. They all need pilots!

Hope that helps some?


Hi Adam,
Thanks a lot for the answers!! Question 1 & 2 makes sense. However 3 & 4 still a little confused on.

When you stated no guarantees please explain… No guarantees with regionals or major airlines?

Are you saying theirs more to it that the 1500 rule? Also by being an CFI will ill be instructing everyday or only when its “needed”

Thanks again!!!


Sorry, I’ll try and clarify.

No guarantees with ANYTHING. I’m really not trying to be negative or portray that what we do as airline pilots is only available to a few BUT the reality is it does take a certain amount of skill and intelligence to fly an airplane and more importantly do it well. There seems to be these perception (not saying it’s yours) that if someone decides to be a pilot they need only pay the admission fee and the rest is simply the natural course that follows. It is not. First flight training requires a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication and while most are successful some are not. Provided training goes well you’ll be offered a job as a flight instructor. When I say “training goes well” I mean no more than 1 or 2 checkride failures, if there are more, you might not get a position. Provided you do, ATP will get you an interview at a Regional airline. They will not (nor can they) guarantee you’ll get hired. As I said, now is an exceptional time in the industry. The Regionals need pilots bad but they still have to “like” you. Again I have no reason to believe you’re not a great guy who’d have no problem BUT again I don’t know you or how you interview? Finally if you make it to a Regional and build time you will apply to a Major but again there are no guarantees you’ll get hired by one. I know great pilots who have been trying for years and for whatever reason have yet to get the nod. Right now in anticipation of large numbers of retirements some Majors are offering flow-thru’s from their Regional partners. But again there are caveats. They need to be hiring, you need to keep a clean record and the flow-thru’s can be cancelled at any time. Not trying to paint a dark or bleak picture but as I said there are no guarantees and I believe it’s important that every potential pilot be well aware of that fact.

In the past there were hiring minimums and also “competitive” minimums, and to get hired you usually needed to exceed the bare mins. In today’s environment that’s not the case because they need pilots so when you’re ready you will get an interview. That said yes there is more to it than just having 1500hrs. That will get you an interview but you still need a clean record, and conduct yourself properly during an interview to get offered a job. It’s not “ok you’ve got 1500hrs you’re in”.



way better :slight_smile: