Flying in the U.S. as a European // EASA ATPL vs. FAA ATP

Hey guys,

my name is Ben and I’m from Germany. Since a lot of knowledge is shared here I was wondering if you could help me with the following question. But first a brief summary of my story.

I went through Lufthansa’s ab-initio program from 2012 - 2016. It took place in Bremen, Germany and Phoenix, Arizona. I also got a 4-year college degree from a German university. Lufthansa has been fighting their pilot’s union for years and so we weren’t hired right away. In 2017 Austrian Airlines (part of the LH Group) desperately needed pilots, so we got a chance to start our career there.
I was able to get 3 years of experience and 1,325h on the Embraer 195 there. Our contracts were temporary though and since Lufthansa still didn’t hire and especially because CoViD happened, we got kicked out. I’m like number 20 in line for Lufthansa, but currently they’re debating laying 1,500 pilots off. So I don’t see a big chance there within the next couple of years. I’m now working in sales, but I want to go back flying asap!
Some facts: -1,600h of total time (1,350h on Jet; Citation CJ1+ and Embraer 195)

  • ATPL (EASA license) incl. valid Embraer 195 rating
  • Class 1 Medical
  • Single-Engine-Piston with PIC and night time endorsement
  • German citizen, but married to a U.S. citizen (we’re currently living in Vienna, Austria)
  • college degree (Bachelor of Engineering)

Is there any chance I could apply at Aviate / United from here, go through the process and if it works take care to get my documents (FAA ATP, FAA Medical, permission to work in the U.S.)? Do you have any experience with Europeans flying in the U.S.?

Thank you so much! Happy Easter from Vienna!



To fly in the US, you need to be either a US permanent resident or a US citizen. You will need to have FAA licenses to apply. You would also most likely start at the regional level and have to build time towards the majors.


Hi Chris,

thanks for the quick response! That’s what I figured actually. I already know the steps to obtain the FAA certifications. The whole immigration / residence process would be more of a challenge since we both live and work in Austria. We’d have to take a leap in the dark and move to the states for that and hope to find a job. Do you think the experience and rating on the Embraer would help finding a job with the regionals like United Express or is that not really taken into account?


I think that your experience would probably be looked upon very well by US regional airlines. But just to be sure, I would contact the recruiting departments of several US regional airlines and ask them directly.



Just to chime in you’d definitely be an attractive Regional candidate once you get the residency thing worked out and hiring resumes. The Majors however would probably ask you to resign your position or ties to Lufthansa before they hired you.


Absolutely your time would be attractive for regionals. Most candidates they see have a large majority of their 1500 single engine piston time so your large majority of Jet time would be favorable. It just wouldn’t be enough to go straight to a major yet. I would contact the United aviate reps to talk about your first steps.

Hannah, Chris and Adam,

thank you so much for your help! It already helps to get a rough idea from some fellow aviators that are in the market there. I’m going to do some more research on how to obtain the required documents and hope it’ll open up again soon. Europe’s still down with CoViD and Lufthansa is debating laying off up to 1,500 pilots. They might be able to cover some with early retirements and part time contracts, but it doesn’t look like it’s my turn to get in anytime soon. So for a decent job in the states I’d definitely cut ties with Lufthansa.
All the best,