Real Answers from Real Pilots

Tests/ financing while waiting on FAA deferral

I decided towards the end of 2020 that I wanted to get out of law enforcement and become an airline pilot. My initial goal was to finish my bachelor’s degree (October, 2021) and begin ATP flight school immediately after. In order to meet this goal, I had my appointment with the AME in July but was deferred due to a medication I was taking for anxiety. Long story short, I knew this would be an issue and was taken off of the medication by my PCP prior to this. I received a letter from the FAA in late August advising what would be required. I completed everything requested by the FAA and more by request of my AME which was sent back to OKC in September. Here it is November and I have yet to hear anything from the FAA, although my AME has full faith that I will be good to go.

My department is aware of my goals and fully supportive, allowing me to stay and give up any extra responsibilities outside of patrol. With that being said, I want to begin taking knowledge tests while I wait for the FAA. My concern is that these tests are only valid for twenty-four months. I would hate for the FAA to take so long that I would not be able to finish the fast track program prior to these examinations expiring. I would like to secure financing at this time in order to begin moving forward with the exams. Is too soon to apply for the loan and begin taking exams as I am still waiting for the FAA? (all paperwork was submitted to the FAA 60+ days ago).


I understand your concerns but I would go ahead and start. While the FAA is notoriously slow on these things it would be highly unusual for it to go beyond 6mos (factor in your AMEs assurance of a positive outcome). Even it takes another 6mos for an answer the program is only 7mos long which still puts you well within the 24mos (and that’s if you finished all the exams today). I honestly don’t think it’s an issue.


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Hi Kevin!

Thank you for your service.

My medical deferral took six months to be reviewed. I would actually wait to do anything until you have your medical in-hand. I know it’s not what you want to do, but without knowing for certain that you can hold a First Class Medical anything you do until then could be a waste of time and money. Just my opinion.


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Adam and Tory, thank you both for your replies. I do have full confidence in ultimately being approved by the FAA. As seniority is a major factor in this line of work, I do believe I will go ahead and secure funding in order to begin taking the tests. This is a calculated risk I’m willing to take. Let’s hope it will not take another 6 months.

Once again, thank you both.

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I would go ahead and work on the writtens as well. Just be cognizant of the expiration dates as you move through the FAA’s glacial process.


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Thank you for your response. I will be getting the finances squared away later this week so I can get started on the exams.

Written exams cost between $140-$165 per exam. I think just the PAR would be a fairly low financial risk to take. That way if it works out, you’re ready to start atp with that first one checked off but if there is excessive delays and you time out on the exam, not too bad of a financial penalty to retake. I wouldn’t progress too much farther though until you get the medical worked out… just a thought.