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QUESTION: Dear David

What are the eligibility criteria for Pilots to fly Local (Domestic) as well as International flights ?

i.e. Educational Certificate Training qualifications, No of Hours Flight Operations etc

Awaiting your reply,

Thanks & Regards,
Prashant S Akerkar

ANSWER: Dear Prashant:

It is nice to hear from you, I will try to help you with an answer!

You are asking me about the eligibility for soemone to become a Professional Airline Pilot.  Whether to not an airline pilot flies domestically or internationally, an airline pilot has to meet some basic qualifications:

1.  Government Pilot Certification.  Pilots and aviation mechanics are among the most heavily regulation career field outside of medicine due to safety concerns.  Therefore, strict government standards are set for training to become an airline pilot.  From the perspective of certifications, one must progress through various certification stesp to become an airline pilot, such as:

A.  Private Pilot Certification.  In the USA, a Federal Aviation Administraion Private Pilot Certificate is normally earned with an average of around 55 flight hours.  You can do it in as few as 35 to 40 hours and some take many more hours than 55, but, 55 is a national average.
With the Private Pilot Certificate, you may not fly for hire.  So, you must progress further to:

B. Commercial Pilot Certificate with Instrument Rating:  This takes up to 250 hours of flight time, including the time to become "Instrument Rated" (which is the rating required to fly in poor visibiilty conditions);

C. Multi Engine Rating:  This rating, earned in 10 to 20 flight hours, allows one to fly multi engine (twin engine) piston aircrraft.

D. Flight Instructor (Airplane) Certificate:  This certificate allows you to train others to fly, which is a way that many pilots build their flight experience (by teaching others to fly).
Many who get the CFI (Airplane) Certificate also get the CFI (Instrument) rating as well to teach others to fly in poor visibility conditions.  Some also get the CFI (Multi Engine) Rating to teach others to fly twin engine aircraft.

E. Air Transport Pilot Certificate.  This is earned after 1500 hours of flying and is the minimum certificate for flying larger Transport Category aircraft.

Earning all of these ratings is quite expensive.  Just to obtain the first three steps (Private, Commercial, Instrument and Multi Engine) can take one to two years and, depending on where you take your training, it can take $35,000 to $80,000 US dollars to complete.

2.  Flight hours.  As you proceed through your training, you will earn flight hours.  As noted above, when you get through your Private, Commercial and Instrument, you will have around 250 flight hours.  You will add in another 20 to 30 for your CFI.  Then, you must build your flight time.

In the USA, the federal law is about to change to require 1500 hours of flight as a minimum to become a co-pilot or first officer at an airline flying under FAR 121 rules (flying larger transport category aircraft).  So, 1500 hours is a key goal. Intermediate steps are:

500 hours is a minimum at some companies for insurance purposes to be able to fly passengers for hire

50 hours of multi engine (twin time) will likely be the new US minimum to obtain the Air Transport Pilot Certificate, as part of the 1500 hours of total flight time.

To get to be hired by a large, national or global airline, you will have to have 500 to 1000 hours of Captain time in a turbine twin aircraft (flying for a smaller, regional airline or for a business aircraft operator, etc).  You will also most likely have to have 2500 to 3000 hours of total flight time to fly for the larger companies.  However that total time might be reduced over time depending on the market for pilots.

3.  Education.  Overall, the pilot profession has become more competitive over time.  In the USA, a vast majority of pilot candidates (over 90%) at the major airlines have a bachelor's degree.  With the new Pilot Hiring requirements being considered by the U. S. Federal Aviation Administration, it seems apparent that a bachelor's degree with a pilot training component will be a key way for new airline pilots to meet federal Pilot Training and hiring requirements.  It is expected that many international airlines will be similar in their requirements.

I hope that this answer is of assistance to you.  Best wishes,

David A. NewMyer

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear David

Thank you.

Pilot will require separate Commercial Aircraft Flying Licenses Permits each for Domestic and International flight operations ?

As a example,

A Pilot flying aircraft within India working for a commercial domestic airline carrier would now like to work for a commercial international airline carrier, in this case he/she will be flying overseas the aircraft, so a separate international aircraft flying license permit is required ?

Awaiting your reply,

Thanks & Regards,
Prashant S Akerkar


Thanks for your follow up quesiton.

The pilot flying for a company within India would build up basic qualifications such as flight hours and also Pilot in Command (PIC) or captain time to the point where a carrier that flies internationally will then hire that pilot.

The pilot will then be trained by the airline that hires that pilot to fly the specific aircraft that they fly overseas or internationally.  There are actually three parts to the training, the aircraft-specific training to fly the (usually) larger aircraft used in flying internationally AND the training required to understand all of the regulations and rules that apply to overwater and international flight operations AND, large part of the training is devoted to navigation and aviagtion in the global context....what you have to know to fly into Europe or Africa or Russia or China or Malaysia, for example......

But, to answer your question, the training is not so much for the "flying license" as much as it is for the Aircraft Type Rating needed to fly a new type of aircraft, the navigation training needed to fly overwater and internationally, and the rules/regulations training needed to fly into specific nations.  The company you work for is responsible for training you up to the minimums needed and then a Training Captain will fly with you for a minimum number of hours (Initial Operating Experience) to make sure you know all of the aircraft, naviation, and national/international rules and regulations.

I hope that this helps!

Best wishes,

David A. NewMyer


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David A. NewMyer


I can answer questions about aviation industry employment, airports and airport planning and aviation industry regulation (overall regulation of the industry--who regulates what and why).


I have worked in aviation since the late 1960s, primarily in airports, airport planning and in aviation education. I have done major research in aviation employment and in graduate education in aviation.

University Aviation Association since 1982 (President, 2009-2010)

Collegiate Aviation Review Journal of Aviation/Aerospace Education and Research Journal of Air Transportation ATEA Journal SIU Press

B. S. in History and Government, University of Redlands, California, 1969 M. A. in Political Science (Metropolitan Studies), Drew University, Madison, New Jersey, 1971 M. S. in Transportation, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, 1974 Ph.D. in Education (Education Aministration and Higher Education), Southern Illinois University Carbonale, 1987

Awards and Honors
United Airlines William Wheatley Award from the University Aviation Association, 1994 for excellence in Post Secondary Aviation Education Sorensen Award for Excellence in Research, University Aviation Association, 2008

Past/Present Clients
Prepared airport master plan and environmental assessment reports for several Illinois Airports; prepared two separate airport systems plans for the Chicago area

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