I'm 43 years old. Is it too late to start the ATP program?

Hey y’all thanks for your time.

I’m Darin. I’m 43 years old and have been thinking about becoming a private pilot for about a year or so, but recently I met some pilots that encouraged me to look into an ATP school. Since airlines handle pilots according to seniority, and mandatory retirement is at 65, I have two main questions:

  1. Is it too late in the game to be worth it for me to try to become a commercial airline pilot?

  2. Would it be difficult for me to get hired by an airline considering that there will be so many other applicants that are far younger than me, even if I do really well in flight school?

Thanks for your help,



This is ny far the most common question we get and there are many threads on the subject.

Long short the answer is no, you’re far from too old. The only caveat is you need to manage your expectations. If you’re imaginging yourself as a Delta 787 Capt flying to Paris, that’s probably not going to happen as that is the most senior position in our industry. However, if you’d be content as a widebody FO or narrowbody Capt for a Major or LCC that is a very realistic goal.


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43 is not too late, but it is not the earliest and with that said, you are limited in time with the career. If your goal and aspiration to be an airline pilot, you should look to attend an accelerated like ATP. I don’t see age being a contender for the airlines. Airlines look to hire successful and well-trained pilots, receive professional training and back it up with professional time-building (like instructing for a well-known flight school) and there should be no concerns.


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Thanks for the responses guys. I love the idea of flying for a living. I just want to make sure that my investment in an ATP school at my age is worth it.