FAA First Class Medical Age

Hello All,

I was reading over what exactly is checked in the examination and then started to look around the FAA website… I found that it is a requirement to be 23 to obtain a ATP First Class Medical Cert… Just to clarify, does that mean I can not attend this school until I am at least 23? I have already been approved for my loan and set my appt. for my intro flight this week in PHX… Please advise.

Kind regards,


I think you may be a bit confused on the matter. There is no age requirement for the FAA First Class Medical, which is a very different thing from the ATP. The ATP does require one to be 23 years of age, have 1,500 hours of flight time and meet a few other requirements. This means that you will not be able to work for an airline until you are 23, but you are good to go on the medical.


Thanks for the fast reply, Chris!

It says here that First-Class is for a Airline Transport Pilot.


This page says to get the Airline transport pilot (ATP) certificate you must be 23 years old.


ATP Flight school requires a FAA First Class Medical Certificate…

Is this a recent change? OR am I still getting it mixed up? I am starting to confuse myself haha


Yes you’re getting wrapped around the axle on this one. YES you need to have a First Class Medical to get your ATP cert and YES you also need to be 23 to get your ATP BUT you do not have to be 23 to get your First Class medical. From the FAA: https://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/medical_certification/faq/response7/
What are the minimum and maximum ages for obtaining a medical certificate?
There are no minimum or maximum ages for obtaining a medical certificate. Any applicant who is able to pass the exam may be issued a medical certificate.

In fact you can even get your R-ATP AND get hired by an airline at 21 IF you’re a military pilot OR graduate of certain University degree programs.



You are still a bit confused. You have to have a First Class medical to obtain an ATP certificate, which you can’t do until you are 23. But you do not have to be 23 to get the medical itself. The actual FAA ATP, ATP the flight school, and the first class medical are three distinct entities with their own sets of requirements.

What is your age? Out of curiosity.


Ohhh! That makes sense… Thank you, Adam for the clarification! @Adam

@Chris I completely understand now, thank you… Phew… I started to see all of my planning go down the drain for the next couple years, haha. I am currently 20, and will be 21 next month. I am getting my associates in May and plan on attending ATP flight school in July.


No worries, it can be confusing. Welcome to the world of the FAA :slight_smile:

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With my age being a major factor throughout this process, would I still be able to sign on with a regional at age 22 while working as a CFI building my 1500 hours? (If/when the opportunity presents itself)


Unfortunately no you would not. The one fact you started this thread with was you MUST be 23 to obtain your ATP certificate and you cannot work for a Regional without your ATP. That said the average is 2 years from your start of training till 1500hrs. You said you’ll be 21 in Feb and you’re not starting with ATP till May. That means you’ll be 23 in 21mos which is less than the average so you should be fine. Even if you work incredibly hard and let’s say get to 1500hrs in only 12 mos (which is really fast), add the 6mos for training (which also could easily be 7-8mos but let’s go best case and say 6) you’re at 18mos total which is only 3 mos shy of your 23 birthday. At that point you should have already been hired by a Regional and secured a class date. The ATP CTP training (required training for your ATP which you’ll do at the Regional) will take a few weeks. Bottomline, worse case you’ll have a month and half to 2 to hangout and study turbine systems.

Btw, You get absolutely zero sympathy from me for being young :slight_smile:



Isnt the R-ATP a option?


As I said above, the R-ATP is only available to military pilots and graduates with 4 yr degrees from certain university FAA accredited programs.


By “sign on”, I think you mean Tuition Reimbursement. The answer is YES, provided you reach age 23 by the time you start airline training.

For clarification, there are no “FAA accredited” programs. Adam is referring to baccalaureate and associates degree programs with an aviation concentration that have applied-for and been approved-for R-ATP. The university route is still not very efficient, even with this handicap.

Having your associates, then doing ATP, then doing an online bachelors degree program will be your best route to the majors, and will likely get you there much faster than the university route.

You are on a good path.

In my reasearch and as far as I can tell from the FAR, as long as you still meet the 1500 hours you are able to get the R-ATP without military experience or a 4 year degree.

FAR 61.160 (f).
- A person who has 1500 hours total time as a pilot, 200 hours of cross country flight time, and otherwise meets the aeronautical experience requirements of 61.159 may apply for an airline transport pilot certificate under this section.

Am I missing somthing here?

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@Justin That is exactly what I meant! I figured that way I can make sure I have chosen the right regional and receive the tuition reimbursement while building my 1500 hours. Thank you for the clarification, Justin :slight_smile:

Tucker and Austin,

I stand corrected. Upon further review you are correct, at 21, with 1500hrs, you would be able to obtain your R-ATP and in fact get hired and fly for a Regional airline. My bad and you’re all good.


Whew, I was sorta worried there for a second! :slight_smile:

Justin, with all due respect:
adjective: accredited
(of a person, organization, or course of study) officially recognized or authorized.
"an accredited chiropractic school"
If the program is a “baccalaureate and associates degree programs with an aviation concentration that have applied-for and been approved-for R-ATP” would that not then be an “FAA accredited program”?


Then let’s say I just finish high school at age 18 and then it takes me 2 years to get my associates putting me at age 20. After that I go to ATP and get all my ratings, hours… and all in two years (predicted amount of time). Meeting the requirements with 1500 hours and 200 hours of cross country would I be able to work for the regionals even though I would only be 22. Then during working with the regionals as a pilot I would obtain an online bachelors aviation degree. Would that be the most efficient way to get to the majors?
Thanks for any help,