What would be the wiser option? Getting my ATPL or Flight instructor Certification straight out of Flight school with the bare minimum 260hrs?

Hi, my name is Brandon and I was born in Trinidad and Tobago. I hold dual citizenship to the United States, I am currently completing my online degree in Information technology and my goal is to become an airline or cargo pilot since my first flight aboard when I was just a kid. My question to you guys are…

Is it possible that after I complete my multi-engine rated CPL with 260 hours from my flight school in Florida can I obtain a Frozen ATPL or would it be more wise to get my flight instructor licenses and build more hours while gaining more experience…

I’ve done my research and I know that a A Frozen ATPL holder refers to somebody who has passed all the required theoretical exams but does not qualify to be issued with a full ATPL until logging a total of 1500 hours.

My reason for asking this question is Trinidad & Tobago my birth country state owned airline carrier (Caribbean Airlines) has different requirements to the United States. Their requirements are a (T&T) Commercial pilot’s license with instrument rating (Conversion will be done if I obtain a foreign license from FAA, EASA etc etc…) as well as the educational requirements for Trinidad. My reason for wanting to obtain an ATPL license is it will basically put me ahead of other candidates who apply with just their CPL and flight instructor certifications and of course more flight hours. Once successfully hired by Caribbean airlines they send you to their facility to get type rated on their fleet of ATR-72 or 737s (new First officers basically start on the ATRs) and I know once I pass 1500 hours my ATPL license would become unfrozen opening a path for me to fly for major airlines in the United States after about 5-10 years after building hours and gaining experience at CAL…


First of all, there is no such thing as a Frozen ATPL. I Googled “Frozen ATPL” and this is what came back:

A “frozen” Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL) is a slang expression referring to the qualifications of a pilot who has passed all 14 ATPL theoretical exams but has not yet met his or her flight requirements. The ATPL would become ‘un-frozen’ when the flight experience requirements are met.

This, to me, sounds like a reference to the EASA ATPL. In the US, ATP candidates take 1 written: the ATM. But before a pilot is eligible to take the ATM they must first complete an ATP CTP course: a weeklong in-person class that covers many topics such as turbine engines, high altitude aerodynamics, weather, radar, and NTSB accident reports.

If a pilot successfully completes both ATP CTP and the ATM, that pilot then holds an ATM certificate of completion (along with any other certificates, licenses and ratings they already have). There is nothing “frozen” about it. They do not receive any form of an ATP license. The ATP license is issued after passing the ATP checkride (usually in a full motion sim). Therefore, the term “frozen ATPL” is meaningless.

Also, unless you have done your flight training in the US, your Trinidad licenses will not suffice as acceptable licenses to be eligible for an FAA ATP, but you can convert your foreign license to an FAA equivalent.

Also, I wouldn’t be so sure that your 737 type rating and Trinidad airline experience will be enough to get hired by a US based major airline. Someone please correct me if I am wrong on that, but I would imagine that you would actually have to start at the regional level before the majors would take a serious look at you. The majors like to see part 121 experience. Even US military pilots with narrow, wide body, and cargo flight experience often times require regional experience before a major will hire them.



Tory is correct, the term “frozen” ATPL applies to EASA rules and refers to completing all 14 of the EASA ATP exams. The FAA system is completely different and therefore there is no FAA frozen ATPL.

Further there is no process of converting any other country’s ATP license to an FAA license. You therefore would have to convert your CPL to FAA THEN complete the ATP-CTP course and finally a checkride. Further while US Majors list 1500hrs as their minimum, they’re just that. The bare minimums and no where near competitive or what any US Major will hire you with. If you’d like to fly in the US (737 type or not) you’re going to have to spend some time at a Regional gaining time and experience here.


Thanks a lot for your response guys. It was very informative and based on what you said if I wish to work for a major US airline I must first obtain my ATPL license from the US, successfully complete my ATP CTP and the ATM course then my ATP check ride to officially obtain the certification and apply to a regional carrier. That leads me to this question,

What are the requirements to begin the ATP CTP course? Can I start this weeklong in-person class after completing my multi engine CPL with just 260hrs or must I first obtain my CFI licenses and obtain a required amount of hours. I’ve read that I must first have 1500 hours to begin the course is that true ?

With regards to your explanation about the conversation process I will be attending a flight school in the United States approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to offer training under Part 141 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. I was referring to me converting my FAA licenses to T&T requirements (civil aviation authority) if I were to be hired by Caribbean airlines.


Technically all you need is a commercial certificate with an instrument rating, but you need to realize that the ATP CTP course is just a prerequisite to take the ATM. If you were to complete the ATP CTP course and pass the ATM with 260 hours, you still wouldn’t be eligible to take the ATP checkride until you reached 1500. It will likely take 15-20 months for you to accumulate 1500. So I see no point in taking the ATM that early.

The reason why you are most likely coming to the conclusion that you need 1500 hours to take the ATP CTP course is because that is typically when most pilots take the course. The regionals pay for their new hires to take the course and the test before they start ground school at their respective airline.

Again, technically you don’t need 1500 hours to complete the ATP CTP course. That’s just the most common sequence of events.

For you, you won’t be applying to a US-based airline, unless you change your plans from what you told us. I imagine you will be paying for the ATP CTP course out of pocket as well as the ATM. After that when you hit 1500 hours and meet all other requirements, you’ll then need to find a flight school to conduct your ATP checkride.


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Thanks Tory…

I think if you call Pelican or Wayman Aviation at North Perry airport in Florida they can help you know the best path. A lot of Caribbean pilots go through them

Chris F

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