Throughout flight training and your flying career, your hours accumulate to represent significant Log Book milestones along the way – the best thing about it? They all signify your personal and professional achievements.
These milestones won’t be the same for everyone - they vary on which route you take to complete your training, which airline you work for and your career aspirations. This is what makes your Log Book and your journey so unique.
We’ve identified the hour milestones for a very traditional route to becoming a Commercial Pilot which remains one of the most popular routes to this day.
If you follow an ‘integrated’ path of training (a full-time course from ‘zero to hero’) you’ll hit some key milestones very early on in your log book –you’ll have around 200 hours within 18 months. Congratulations! You’re a Commercial Pilot!
When you start flying with your first airline, the first initial total of type specific (i.e. aircraft specific) hours is 500. Why is this so important for professional Pilots? At this point that you become eligible to apply to some other airlines if you wished to.
So, how long does it take? The time it takes to reach 500 hours and, in fact, any hours milestones depend heavily on the flight operations of the airline you work for and your contract. Those working for regional carriers could rack these hours up pretty swiftly –those six sector days just keep appearing on your roster! Those on a seasonal contract could take a little while longer (but hey, we’re not knocking the lifestyle!)
The next big one is 1500 total hours. With this amount you can ‘unfreeze’ your ATPL (link)– in other words, you can apply to be issued with a full Airline Transport Pilot Licence. This increases your job and progression opportunities even further! Most short haul airlines will accept a direct entry application with this number of hours.
Discover more about unfreezing your ATPL with our handy guide
3000 – 4000 Hours
Fancy switching to long-haul? It’s typical for long-haul carriers to set the bar a lot higher for direct entry Pilots when it comes to hours. For example, Virgin Atlantic currently requires a minimum of 3500 hours to apply for a First Officer position.
What’s up next? Another stripe! If you’ve got your eyes on ‘Command’ the next milestone you’ll need to reach is the 4000 hour mark. However, this does vary wildly between airlines. It’s not uncommon for some airlines to fast-track First Officers with around 3000 hours into the left-hand seat - which can be done by the agreement of the airline and the regulator. Airlines like Flybe and easyJet boast that their newly-qualified pilots can expect to make Command as early as 4 years into the job.
So there you have it! A flying career in numbers. This is of course just a glance into what one, very typical journey could look like.
There is no one route to the flight deck – each journey is personal so we at Aileron believe you should make it truly yours. Treasure your milestones – your achievements – in a Personalised Professional Pilot Log Book.
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