ATP Written Prerequisites About to Change Drastically

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This is the last month in which a pilot can take the ATP written (knowledge) examination before a new, onerous and expensive prerequisite requirement takes effect. As of Aug. 1 of this year, FAR 61.153(e) requires that anyone seeking to just take the written—not the checkride—must have completed an FAA-approved “airline transport pilot certification training program” set out in FAR 61.156. The program must include, among other things, 30 hours of classroom instruction and “at least 6 hours of training in a Level C or higher full flight simulator qualified under part 60.” Estimates for the cost of the course are in the $10,000 to $20,000 range although, according to the AOPA, no such courses are even available yet.

Through the end of this month, pilots can take and pass the ATP written exam and take the checkride (practical exam) within the next 24 months without having to go through the airline transport pilot certification training program—that’s specifically approved by the FAA in 61.155(d). There is no requirement that a person who desires to take the written have met the minimum age or flight experience for the rating at the time of taking the written—the eligibility requirements of 61.153 kick in at the time of taking the checkride. A pilot who takes and passes the written this month has two years to gain the required flight experience and pass the practical test. A pilot who takes and passes the ATP written this month and does not complete (pass) the practical test within 24 months must again take and pass the written before taking the practical test—and that means completing the airline transport pilot certification training program before taking the written again.