Real Answers from Real Pilots

What is the fastest way to 1500 hours?

Hi - thank you for all of the thoughtful answers on this site. I am in my late 40s and have had a successful career as a lawyer so the initial cost investment in pilot training is not that worrying to me. Because of my age, I am more concerned about the time it takes to get to the required 1500 hours and then out into an airline fleet - is there a way to reduce it from the 1.5 years estimated that you need to spend as a flight instructor? Is it possible to also pay to get those hours? If so, how much should I anticipate it will cost? What would be a reasonable estimate on how fast a motivate student who does not need to work other jobs (other than perhaps as a flight instructor) could get to 1500? And is it possible to accumulate hours on my own while also working as a flight instructor?

Many thanks in advance for any feedback you can provide.


The FAA prohibits instructors from instructing more than eight hours per day in an airplane, so you will always be limited by that. That being said, it is hard to fly eight hours as an instructor as much of your time will involve teaching ground school.

Yes, you can always rent an airplane and just fly the 1,500 hours. It will cost whatever the going rate at your local airport is. You will not learn much doing this, but it is certainly a way to do it.

I understand the time pressures with age, but keep in mind that this is not just a race to get hours, you are learning and gaining experience that will be invaluable when you have people’s lives in your hands.



While I appreciate and understand your desire to build your time quickly, please know it’s not just about quantity, it’s about quality. There’s nothing wrong with a little supplemental recreational flying but more times than not that flying won’t do much for your skills.

Any method of time building will get you hired but it won’t necessarily get you through newhire training. You need to look at this as more than just a box to check.


To tack onto what Chris said, the regulation actually limits the instructor to no more than 8 hours of flight instruction in a consecutive 24 hour period, which means even if you hit 8 hours one day, you may be timed out for most of the next day until the hours “fall off” in the rolling 24 hour period. Additionally, you’d be pretty tapped out, and the quality of the actual instruction you provide will drop off. Count on about 6-7 hours per day of dual given as a safe max.


As the others have said, that’s not how this works. The FAA increased the total time requirement from 250 to 1500 as a result of Colgan Air flight 3407. Getting to 1500 as quick as humanly possible is not the goal.


I don’t want to start a new thread for this question and this seems like a good thread to tack it onto since I came across it while searching for an answer; What is “fast” when getting to 1500? I completely agree with the ‘quality vs quantity’ argument but what is the average time as a flight instructor? A year and a half of flight instructing to get 1500 and then you are ready for a regional? I’m just curious when comparing it to something like Cape air where you can start at 500 but they require a 6-18 month commitment “depending on your qualifications when hired.”

Mason, depends on where you instruct. I live in a good weather city and instruct about 125 hours a month (which is above average and I’m lucky). I actually wouldn’t want to instruct more than that. Time flies (no pun intended) and the pilot I am today is not the same one I was 1250 hours ago with a wet CPL. Enjoy the process.


Obviously much will depend on the school you instruct for. A large academy like ATP will provide more flight time than most local flight schools. The average however is about 75hrs month. You need 250 for your CPL so 1500-250=1250÷75=about 17mos or a year and a half.

It’s really your call what path you take and what’s going on in the industry at the time. No point in planning on a gig with Cape Air if they’re not hiring at the time.


Thanks guys, I wasn’t planning on any specific job per se, but was trying to get a feel for the timeline through different routes.

The average 75 hr a month is taking in to account the one or two brand new instructors with one student all the way to the most senior instructor with 3 or 4. It’s an average. A cfi’s outside of atp averages 40-60 hrs a month so any flying done at atp is generally faster than the average pace.
Flying in locations with favorable weather, it’s not out of the question to hit 100 hours a month or more. If you get a specialty position like TAA, multi or lead positions you realistically can hit 120 hours a month. Anything over 100hr a month is fast when it comes to time building.