Exactly How to Become a Pilot

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Steps to Become an Airline Pilot

Why This List?

We get many potential students asking what steps they will have to take to become an airline pilot, and we would like to lay out a step-by-step guide detailing the process.

Much of this information can be found all over the web, but we understand that it’s helpful to have it right in front of you- so please scroll down, read through the information, click on the helpful links and enjoy.

If you have any questions, please tap on the Chat bubble at the bottom of this page and we will respond right away.

Step 1: Complete Flight School Training

Individuals interested in becoming a pilot will first need to determine what type of license they want to earn. The FAA offers several types of pilot's licenses, including sport pilot, private pilot and commercial pilot. At Academy of Aviation, we specialize in both Private and Career Pilot course tracks.

Next, aspiring pilots need to attend an FAA-certified flight school or take private lessons from an FAA-certified instructor. These programs may be found at flight training schools, community colleges, and technical schools. Topics covered include basic aerodynamics, aircraft components, and flight controls, FAA regulations, aircraft weight and balance, basic navigation, flight planning, and aircraft systems. Every hour of training and flight instruction is logged to ensure new pilots have completed the minimum hours needed to learn how to fly an airplane.

One of the most compelling comparisons between Academy of Aviation and a community college is the time factor. Unlike a four-year college course, we get you into the air for the full duration of your training. If you’ve got your heart set on a career as an airline pilot, our career-oriented programs will put you on a direct course to your goal.

A crucial distinction between an independent FAA-certified instructor and the Career Pilot track at Academy of Aviation is determined by our ACCSC Accreditation. Recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, ACCSC serves as the designated institutional accrediting agency for 700 trade and technical schools that provide quality vocational education to over 150,000 students each year.

Step 2: Earn a Private Pilot's License

Along with a minimum amount of flight hours, students need to demonstrate sufficient skills and knowledge to their flight instructor before they may earn an FAA private pilot's license. This license, also known as a certificate, will allow them to fly an aircraft and carry passengers and baggage without compensation. Individuals will need to earn a commercial pilot's license to get paid to transport people and property.

Academy of Aviation's Private Pilot course is both standalone and included in our Career Pilot track. As such, we offer both Part 141 and Part 61 pilot courses, of which we will now outline here:
Part 141 Pilot course training syllabi have been evaluated by the FAA and follow a strict protocol. Both the student and the flight schools must adhere exactly to what the FAA has approved so there are no variations in training. The benefit, you can obtain your FAA Private Pilot License in fewer hours, which means shorter training time and less money.

Part 61 Pilot courses, in comparison, are simply more flexible in how the training is conducted but have a higher flight hour requirement. It should also be noted that some airlines and Civil Aviation Authorities in other countries require Part 141 training, so make sure you discuss your overall aviation career goals with our Admissions Team for guidance. You can read the FAA Federal Aviation Regulations for Part 61 and Federal Aviation Regulations for Part 141 in depth if you really want to understand the differences.

To earn a private pilot's license, individuals must be at least 17 years old. An FAA medical certificate is also required, and is obtained by being examined by an FAA-designated Aviation Medical Examiner and demonstrating good overall health. A summary of the FAA Medical Standards is available here.

Aspiring pilots must also pass a written exam and complete at least 35 hours of flight training. Half of this training must be with a flight instructor, and at least 5 hours must be in solo flight time. A practical flight test is also required, and is called a check ride.

Step 3: Earn a Commercial Pilot's License

In order to be compensated for transporting people and property, pilots should obtain a commercial license. While in training, students should keep detailed logs of both their in-flight hours as well as their on-ground hours. A detailed article explaining examples of logging Pilot-In-Command time can be seen here.

In order to receive a commercial pilot's license, students must pass a variety of medical and physical exams, an FAA written exam, and a check ride with flight standards that are more stringent and a knowledge level higher than that of the private pilot. Once pilots have obtained their license, they must pass regular physical screenings and practical flight tests in order to keep the status of the license up-to-date.

At Academy of Aviation, we take pride in preparing our students for all examinations on the way to their pilot license, and this includes making sure we cover all the required material for you to pass your written exams with ease and confidence. As a certified Cessna Pilot Center, we use Cessna developed computerized courses which closely resemble the FAA written exams, and we administer professionally proctored knowledge examinations in a relaxed and friendly environment.

Step 4: Employment

Individuals with a Commercial Pilot's License may seek employment as a pilot. According to job postings for aircraft pilots, employers seek pilots to fill First Officer positions with an airline, test new aircraft, develop flight simulation programs, and conduct national security missions. Employers preferred pilots with several years of flight experience and various pilot licenses.

As an enrollee of Academy of Aviation's Career Pilot program, students will be guaranteed a Certified Flight Instructor job upon graduation. Your guaranteed position as an AOA flight instructor is the next career step to build the experience and flight time you need; in about 18-22 months, you will build the flight experience required for the ATP Certificate and 1500-hour airline hiring minimums. The Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate is the highest level of aircraft pilot certificate.

Step 5: Advance in the Field

Academy of Aviation has partnered with all major regional airlines to in order for our students to participate in Cadet Programs, allowing students to gain seniority while still in training, tuition reimbursement, and even sign-on bonuses. These partnerships include a conditional letter to interview for a First Officer position with upgrade potential to major carries such as American Airlines, JetBlue, United, etc. in as little as 2 years!

Academy of Aviation’s accelerated courses are a defining factor in getting you into the cockpit instead of keeping you at your desk as a four-year college course will do, and this is manifested in the seniority ranking and advancement time of your career as a pilot. Take advantage of the pilot shortage happening right now and start your pilot career!

Academy of Aviation Flight School

You Have the Dream, We Give it Wings

Full student financial aid available. No payments until 6 months after completion.

FAA 141 Approved in our Farmingdale and Westchester Locations. FAA Part 61 Courses are available.

VA Approved: Use your benefits towards flight training.
ACCSC Accredited: Setting standards of educational quality.
International Students: Advance your career with FAA pilot licenses and ratings.

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Academy of Aviation Locations:

 Republic Airport
Farmingdale, New York, KFRG. (Main Office)
 Westchester County Airport
White Plains, New York, KHPN
 Gastonia Municipal Airport
Gastonia, North Carolina, KAKH

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We are a Cessna Pilot Center and Cessna Authorized Service Facility.