how to get a pilot license

How to Get a Pilot License

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In our last post, we talked about what personality traits you need to be a pilot. As you can imagine, it takes many tests to fly these big birds. There are many licenses you need to get, especially to become an airline pilot. In this article, we will talk about what you need to do to get a pilot license. Also you will learn almost all pilot license types in aviation. Before you start, we recommend that you read the last article to understand how suitable you are to be a pilot. Now let’s focus on our topics.

What is an Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL)?

ATPL is the certificate required by the person who uses an aircraft in flight operations for a fee. In fact, it is a combined license. You can fly as a pilot in an airline company, only after having some of these licenses. A pilot holding a special pilot’s license must obtain many additional documents to work in airlines. In order to obtain an ATP license, it is necessary to obtain PPL (private pilot license) and CPL (commercial pilot license). You can obtain these associate licenses individually in different courses. Also you can train collectively in a comprehensive ATP course. When you examine the following licenses, you will understand much better what an ATP license is. Let’s see PPL now.

What is a Private Pilot License (PPL)?

Private pilot’s license can be thought of as the automobile license that we all have, in the simplest terms. As you know, you can’t drive a car without a driving license. But if you want to use the school bus, taxi or public transport, your driver’s license will be insufficient. Therefore, if you want to drive for a commercial purpose, authorities will ask you for many additional certificates. Here, the PPL certificate is the most basic pilot license, just like the driving license. Pilots with this license can make non-commercial flights. In order to get this certificate, you must first receive theoretical training. Afterwards, you need to take flight training, some in simulation and some in real aircraft.

After receiving the necessary theoretical and practical training, if you are successful in the control flights and exams, you can obtain your certificate. Now you have taken your first step towards becoming a pilot. At this stage, you may only use single-engine airplanes (like Cessna)  for non-commercial purposes.

Cessna training aircraft

ATPL Theory Training

ATPL theory training consists of advanced theoretical courses. A pilot with a PPL must take this course in order to be able to engage in any commercial activity. It is not possible to fly in an airline without this theory training. With this advanced education, the candidate reaches the level of knowledge at the ATPL level. In the ATPL theory process, the candidate retrains the lessons he has seen in the PPL course in a more detailed way. This training takes about 6 months.  The training time may change according to the authorized body.   Candidates are taken to the examinations of the official aviation authority at the end of the training. Only the candidate who is successful in all courses can complete the theory training.

Night flight (NR)

A pilot with a PPL must complete a minimum of 5 hours of night flight in a single-engine airplane before obtaining a commercial pilot license. You can obtain this certificate at the PPL stage as well as after the ATPL theory training. With this license, the pilot now has the authority to fly at night. However, this flight authorization still does not authorize the pilot to fly passenger planes. Now let’s examine our next license.

Pilot In Command Flight (PIC)

In this training, the pilot now starts to fly alone. While in previous flights the pilots flew with an instructor, in this training they completely manage the flight themselves. Pilots are responsible for all operation and safety during this flight. After flying solo for approximately 88 hours the pilots complete the PIC module. But the flight time may vary according to the country and authority of the certificate. Pilots are now ready for instrument flight training after this certificate.

Instrument Flight Training (IR)

Instrument Flight Training (IR) is another training required to become an airline pilot. The student who completes the PIC flight can start the Instrument Rating training. IR training is given to the student pilot to teach how to fly the aircraft safely by using the displays and auxiliary navigation devices in the aircraft in the absence of visual flight conditions. Before this training, pilots operate the aircraft with visual reference to the ground, and by visually avoiding obstructions and other aircraft. However, after this training, no matter how limited the vision conditions are, they can fly using the instruments inside the aircraft.

We’ve all traveled by plane. Sometimes you can’t see anything when you look out the window. In such weather conditions, even if the pilots can never see their way, thanks to this training they have received, they can fly the planes safely. Pilots do some of this training on the plane and some in the simulator.

Aircraft Cockpit

Commercial Pilot License Training (CPL)

Commercial Pilot License Training (CPL) is the training process that a student pilot must complete in order to be able to engage in any commercial flight activity. At this stage, the pilot repeats and refines everything he learned in the PPL stage in more detail. Candidates can take test flights after completing their Instrument Flight and Commercial Pilot License training. After this training is completed, multi-motor authorization training starts.

Multi-engine Flight Rating (ME)

Candidates enter the Multi-Engine Rating Training (ME) stage in order to obtain a flight authorization in a multi-engine aircraft. The student pilot develops many skills up to this stage. In this training, he learns to use his skills in flying a multi-engine airplane. At the end of the training, a test flight is performed by the official authority accompanied by the examiner. In these flights, the pilot is also expected to fly a multi-engine aircraft with instrument flight rules. The pilot who is successful in test flights also receives the multi-engine license. Now ATPL is ready! With this authorization, the pilot becomes ready to apply to the airlines. After this stage, the application and interview process of the pilot to different airlines begins.


In conclusion, a candidate has to go through a lot of rigorous training to become an airline pilot. If candidates successfully complete all modules, they will receive the title of airline pilot. Of course, having this certificate does not allow you to instantly get a job as a pilot in an airline. Each company may have different recruitment processes. Pilots may take many tests after they have an ATP license. For example, every airline may ask you for a health certificate proving that you are fit to fly. As we mentioned in our previous article, CRM interviews are one of them. These interviews measure how suitable you are to be a pilot.

If everything goes well and you are hired by an airline, you must also receive Type Rating training for the type of aircraft you will fly. For example, if you are going to fly a Boeing 737, you need to receive additional training from the instructors of this aircraft. Here we come to the end of our article. We tried to give you the answer to the question of “How to get a pilot license”. If you have any further questions or comments, feel free to contact us in the comments section.


What is an ATP License?

ATPL is the highest level of commercial piloting license and it is an abbreviation for Airline Transport Pilot License. Unlike other licenses, pilots with an ATP license can also be pilot-in-command on aircraft with a maximum take-off weight of more than 12500 pounds and a capacity of more than 9 passengers.

What is PPL?

Private Pilot License. Pilots holding this license can make non-commercial flights in any aircraft.

What is PIC flight?

PIC (Pilot In Command) means the flight performed by the student pilot who received flight training alone.

What is IFR?

IFR flight; where the flight is dangerous with visual references outside the aircraft; Flight performed using onboard instruments, displays, and navigation aids.

What is Multi Engine Rating?

Multiple Engine Rating is the training a pilot must receive to be able to fly any aircraft with more than one engine as PIC (Pilot In Command).

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