Real Answers from Real Pilots

Aspiring Career Changer


So I just have a few questions. I’m 29 years old, and I have a PPL with a little over 80 hrs TT. Im seriously considering a career change from IT to what I aspired to do which is to fly part 121 (regional and then a major). I have a bachelor’s (IT) and a master’s in a separate field so checks in the box there.

I have to wait 2 years to potentially go to ATP because I need to save up money and pay off debt first. Also, I have a wife and 3 kids… unfortunately waiting 2 years start is non-negotiable.

So my questions are:

  1. Is 90 days the typical timeline for starting with a PPL and 80 hours in hand?

  2. If I get my IR in the next two years before applying, can I still enroll in the airline pilot program at ATP?

  3. I know nobody can predict this, but do you think the regionals will still be hiring like they are currently (taking anyone with the required FAA ATP minimums) in 3-4 years when I could be eligible?

Thanks in advance!

Hello Ryan and welcome,

Good questions so let get them answered.

  1. The 90 days is no longer the mark. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your take) the 90 day program has morphed to 6 mos. The main reason is just as there’s a demand for pilots there’s also a demand for DPE (designated pilot examiners). With the lack of DPE there was simply no way ATP could maintain the progression. On a positive note while the program is still accelerated, you have a little more time to get it done.

  2. You can of course get your IR and still take enroll in the Career Pilot Program. Keep in mind though ATP will still put you through THEIR IR training so it won’t save you any time or money so I would just wait and save the cash.

  3. You’re correct, no one can predict the future. There are no guarantees and things could change tomorrow but all indicators are that they won’t. All the Majors still have massive retirements and those will continue and although new pilot starts are up, it’s only slightly. Again no one can say for sure but I’d say you’ll be fine but sooner is ALWAYS better.

Hope this helps some?



Already having your degrees is great and definitely takes care of a large requirement for the majors. i agree with Adam here in that if your plan is to go to ATP, then there is very little point in your pursuing any further training now, I would wait and start the program when you are ready.



Yes all this helps! Thank you for the info. I will likely hold off my IR then. 6 months seems more reasonable on the amount of content you have to learn.

True, I will just have to hope for the best for sure. I do like the conditional offers and tuition re-imbursment that ATP partnered airlines offer.

I’m a military reservist. Is ATP VA benefits eligible?

Thank you for your time.



ATP operates it’s program under Part 61 (which allows the accelerated time frame) and therefore they’re not VA eligible. However you can use your bennies for the checkride fees which have gotten quite expensive ($6000+).