Starting ATP with high flight hours

Looked around the forums a bit and did not see a question with my particular hypothetical in mind so I thought I would throw it out there. I am a potential career 2.0 candidate with my private pilot license. I currently have around 400 hours of flight time and am researching the possibility of going into the airline industry.

To minimize the family financial impact, I am attempting stay out of the salary work force for as short a time as possible.

My question is, if I build up my hours in my own aircraft to 1400 hours or so before I start ATP, can I go through the ATP process and only obtain up the commercial Multi and skip all of the CFI certs? Along with that, if that is a viable option (with the idea that by the time I finish those ratings I should be close enough to the 1500 hour mark to interview with the regionals) am I still eligible for any of the pathway programs?

My intent would be to utilize the sallie may funding with the deferred payments and the monthly stipend while attending ATP and then hopefully hiring on with a regional shortly thereafter to minimize the impact on the pocket book.

Any input is greatly appreciated.


First I’ll give you credit. I’ve been on this forum for almost 20yrs and yours is a unique idea so kudos for that.

In theory your plan seems viable but there is one pretty big caveat. The airlines require 1500hrs because it’s the law but they also expect you to show up with 1500hrs worth of QUALITY experience. You don’t mention an Instrument or ME ratings so I’ll assume you’d get those with ATP as part of the program. That means the bulk of your experience will be SE VMC. If I were on your hiring panel (which I have been), I’d be highly skeptical of your ability to successfully complete newhire training. Further, even if you did get the nod again, you need to get through newhire training which is no easy task (getting hired is the easy part). Flight instructing is a great way to hone your skills. Sure it’s possible to build time without it but the airlines want experienced Instrument pilots. When I was hired years ago my sim partner was a great stick but he built all his time doing scenic tours. He failed miserably. You could of course get your IR and do some Instrument flying but most people simply don’t challenge themselves enough when they’re flying recreationally to get the level of proficiency required.

Again not saying you can’t go that route but it could present a problem. As for the pathway programs, that could also be an issue. The airlines partner with ATP not only for the quality of training, but the fact they can monitor your progress while you’re building your time.



I appreciate the feedback! As you stated, my instrument, commercial and ME would all be through ATP. Unfortunately I can’t get my instrument to build that time and still go through the ATP program as they will not allow it.

As a twist to the question, I just came across Airline Direct Track option prior to the CFI certification in ATP. It sounds like this might be my viable alternative to address the issues you state. However, part of that add on program involves 1200 hours of crew time to build hours over a 10 month period, so I need to find out how that works if I already have several hundred hours.

Again, thank you for your feedback, especially as it pertains to the industry hiring experience.


Otherwise seeing you’re an Oregon Ducks fan… I’m sorry to see that. However, this is exciting, and you seem like you’re on the right track for success.

Like Adam, I think flight instructing has MANY benefits that some like to oversee. While the airlines are more opened to hiring requirements right now, when the time comes to a true slowing wave, a well put resume will set you above. I had a class partner who was older than me, flew mostly banner and pipeline for his time, not struggle with getting back into procedures and standardized material, but needed a pick me upper. There is something that can be taken away from instructing that other positions can’t provide.

I would inquire Admissions about the Airline Direct Track if that were possible.


Hello Scott
I am not an airline pilot, but I am an older commercial pilot (no ATP) with an Instrument Multi and over 1500 hours. Have about 180 hours actual IFR 1400 hours PIC and 1150 hours cross country also have flown PIC to every State in the Country. However, I fly with CFIs at Times for IFR currency and Flight reviews that have a fraction of the hours I have but because they are intrenched with this everyday it is obvious to me they have a better grasp of the necessary knowledge it takes to be a professional pilot. I have been trying to get a flying position for about 3 months now and have only received one interview for a job. this is probably for the very reason Adam mentioned. Additionally, I did not get the job and I can say it was because I didn’t interview well. Having competed my IFR and Commercial training four years ago and needed more of a refresh. I wasn’t prepared. I studied many things about IFR / Commercial but was asked about. totally different questions.
Sorry for rambling on point is as a CFI you will be using and polishing your skills to better prepare you for the role.
still looking


This is an original idea, but I do not see it working well. The airlines want to see quality flight time and 1,400 hours of visual flying is not generally what is considered “quality”. You need to spend a good amount of that time working on instrument skills as that is exclusively how the airlines fly. I am not sure about the pathway programs at that point, I kind of think you would be past those.

I recently had a sim partner that had bought an airplane and flew 1,500 hours, then floated through a regional for a few years, taking many leaves of absence. She really struggled in training and was eventually let go. The quality of flight time matters.



I understand your concerns with providing for your family while trying to get your ratings and build time. Although your proposed plan was unique, your concerns are shared by everyone.

My biggest issue with your plan is the same as Adam brought up. With nearly 90% of your time as SE VMC, that might bring up a lot of questions regarding your fitness for airline life and getting through training. That’s a big risk putting all your eggs in that basket. If it’s not received well, then you just wasted a lot of time to go back to build more valuable time (IFR XC or multi).

Instead, enter the program credit private with a much shorter timeline. You can request up to $2000/mo to supplement living expenses in your loan. Then as soon as you graduate you could get a position as a CFI and start making an income again. You could always look for better higher paying flying gigs since you’ll have more total time than most when you finish.