I could literally write a novel on this one but here’s the quick and dirty:
Most of your training will follow a similar pattern. You’ll have ground school, practice in the sim and then in the airplane. ATP has state of the art simulators that facilitate you practicing maneuvers without wasting valuable (and expensive) flight time. You’ll have homework and quizzes to complete every evening that will be reviewed daily. In addition you’ll be responsible to self-study for all the FAA Written exams (side note, many pilots try and bang out as many as writtens as possible prior to beginning training to get them out of the way). All licenses and rating require a written, oral and practical (flight) examination. Here’s an overview:
First 2 mos you’ll be working on your Private license. Even though this is the most remedial level it’s really (IMHO) the biggest step as you’re going from “0” time to being a licensed pilot. LOTS to learn and skills to hone.
Multi-Engine Rating: You just got your Private so the ME add-on is fairly simple (when both engines are turning there isn’t much difference). About a week of training focused on what happens when a twin loses one of it’s engines plus operating a “complex” airplane (and airplane with retractable gear and a variable pitch propeller).
Instrument Rating: This most pilots will agree is the most challenging. Learning to fly solely with reference to your instruments (no peeking outside). LOTS of rules and regs but more important your skills need to be tight as tolerances get very small. Failure to do so will cause a checkride bust AND more importantly in the real world the reason most pilots end up on the 6 o’clock news.
Commercial License: The Commercial checkride is really no biggy, just some more complex maneuvers to perform. Problem is you won’t have the required time so ATP will send you flying (this is the really good part). This is the cross-country phase (about 2-3 weeks). You and a partner will be sent flying. Depending on which course you chose (40 or 100 hr ME) you’ll go out in either the single or the twin and fly (if you’re in the twin you’ll go farther). ATP will tell you where but you’ll be responsible for the how. You’ll plan the flight, check the weather and go. Not just fun but a great confidence builder.
CFI’s: This is the Instructor training portion: This one is a bear. There’s really not anything new here, you’ve seen it all but now you’ll be flying from the right seat and doing a whole lot of talking. You’ll learn how to build a lesson plan and actually teach and on your checkride you’ll give the examiner a lesson in whatever. The biggest challenge on this checkride is as an instructor you’re responsible for knowing EVERYTHING and EVERYTHING (from day 1) is fair game.
You’ll then clean up your remaining ratings as add-ons (ie, CFII, MEI, etc).
Take a break and then go to JAX for Instructor Standardization. ATP wants to make sure every student is receiving the same level of training regardless of location so here they’ll make sure you’re on the same page as everyone else and further hone your teaching skills.
Begin teaching at you location. Actually fun and challenging (sometimes scary). At some point (500hrs) ATP will set up an interview with the Regional of your choice where you “should” receive a conditional offer of employment. Build your 1500hrs and voila! Congrats you’re an airline pilot!