Real Answers from Real Pilots

Guidance on age, and becoming a regional airline pilot

Hi there,
I am currently 17 and I am a junior in high school, I’ve been taking college classes simultaneously with my regular high school classes. At the end of the next school year, I will have completed my course and will have earned both a high school diploma and an Associates degree. I plan to join ATP at the age of 18 but to my understanding, most regional airlines are hiring those who are 21 and above. Assuming that I become a CFI for ATC, would I have to wait until I turned 23 before I could apply for as an F/O at a regional?

Thanks.

Griffon,

Your question is confusing? As you said you understand that the Regionals are hiring at 21 which is correct (not a preference, it’s the law now to obtain an R-ATP). So why would you think you’d need to wait till you’re 23?

Adam

Sorry for the confusion, I was getting mixed up with the info on the ATP website. Before the Air Transporter License, there is a commercial pilot that only requires 250 hours and for the person to be 18, is this the equivalent of a CFI license?

Also, the question that I was trying to get at the most, was that assuming I became a CFI for ATP at age 18/19, I would simply wait till I turned 21 before I could apply for any regional’s?

Thanks!

Griffon,

Ok let’s clear a few things up. To have a Commercial license (CPL) you must be 18. Your CFI (Cert Flight Instructor) is a rating (not a license), BUT to earn your CFI you MUST have your CPL. You can however have your CPL without your CFI. As for flying for a Regional you must be able to obtain your ATP (Airline Transport License). Now for a full ATP you must be 23 however the FAA introduced the R-ATP (Restricted ATP to help the Regionals with the pilot shortage) which can be earned at 21. What that means is you can be hired at a Regional at 21 you simply cannot upgrade to Capt until you’re 23. Make sense?

Adam

Griffon,

As much as we would love to see you come to ATP right away, I recommend that you finish your college education first. The major airlines all require a bachelor’s degree, an associate’s will not cut it. It makes far more sense to finish your education while you are in school mode, then go to flight school and focus on flying.

Chris