Difficulty of the ATP course

I was just wondering how difficult the course is for the 6 month program for ATP? I have a deep fascination of flying and I would love to delve deeper into it. I just do not want to get myself into something if I am not mentally prepared for it yet. Any information I can get or advice would be very helpful!

Hello Nicholas and welcome,

Really good question and I’m really glad you asked. While I really try not to discourage anyone there does seem to be this new sense that every person in the world with the money can just show up and be flying a 747 in a year or 2. The Airline Career Pilot Program is definitely challenging. ATP is compressing what many schools take 2 years to complete in only 6 mos. They don’t do this by cutting out curriculum or material and you obviously still have to pass the all the required FAA exams. The reason ATP set up this program is to prepare pilots who want a career in aviation for the type of training they’ll receive at the airlines. The airlines give you a short (and finite) amount of time to learn the material and if you can’t, well you don’t get to be an airline pilot, it’s really that simple. So back to your question, how difficult is it? Again it’s a challenge but definitely doable. The key is much of the onus is on YOU. ATP (and the airlines) requires great amount of self-study and discipline. That’s not to say your instructors aren’t there to help, they are and do but again you have to carry your own weight. If you can’t complete an overnight assignment because you don’t understand something, no problem we’ll work on it till you do. BUT, if you didn’t complete an assignment because you were hanging with friends, watching the game etc then we have a problem. Make sense?

Short answer, if you’re serious and work hard you should be fine. Just the fact that you’re even asking demonstrates a good mindset. That you don’t assume it’ll be handed to you and that’s a very good thing.

Btw, beyond your fascination with flying have you ever actually been up? (and no I don’t mean in the back of an Airbus going to Spring Break). If not you need to.



Thank you for your information and advice Adam. It is helping me get a better understanding of what I am up against. Do you happen to know any books or articles I can read to help me kind of kickstart my learning for the courses at ATP? To answer your question about being up in a plane, I have been up in a helicopter and I had a blast. Then I went up in a small Cessna and I got the chance to fly for a little. It was so much fun and intimidating at the same time because it was the first time for me to do anything like that. But, I do know I would like to do more of it (flying) and learn as much as I can about it to be the best I can be.


There are countless books out there. If/when you sign up with ATP you’ll get a box full! The Jeppensen Private Pilot manual is a great book to start with, If you don’t want to spend the money (and honestly there’s no reason to) I’d just do what you’re doing and Google away.


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Thank you very much I appreciate it!