Preparing for Civilian Aviation as a Military Aviator

 In Commercial Flight Training

Airlines have started their hiring process back and many military pilots approaching the end of their military career are wondering ‘how can I make the switch’. Flight Training International takes pride in the number of instructors that we have that have been in that same place and want to help make your transition as easy as possible. Whether you’re an Apache pilot or flying the KC-135 there’s going to be a place in the civilian aviation world for you. The military didn’t just give you a career that put you in some of the coolest aircraft in the world; they also made you one of the most marketable pilots out there.

You are someone the airlines want

Your Military training has made you a prime target for the airlines, and the training is good enough, even the FAA has said that you can start flying for the airlines earlier than other pilots. To get a Restricted Airline Transport Pilot Certificate (R-ATP), a military pilot only needs to have 750 flight hours. But, at least 250 of those hours need to be as PIC (easy if you fly solo… exp. F-16) in an airplane, 250 hours need to be Fixed Wing and 50 hours need to be Multi Engine. If you meet those qualifications, Congratulations, you’re qualified to get your R-ATP.

Where to Start

Your first goal now is to get a Commercial Multi Engine Land Certificate with an Instrument Rating, and there’s a couple ways to do it. One being through a Civilian Training Center the same way a civilian pilot trains; the other being the Military Equivalency Exam. This test can be taken at any FAA Testing Center which can be found on the PSI Website. To study for the test Shepard Air has a course specific to that exam and is FTI’s recommended study software. There is also a Military Flight Instructor Equivalency for Flight Instructors that will qualify you for a CFI Certificate. If you qualify for the Military Equivalency’s FTI highly recommends you take advantage of them. It is by far the quickest way to get a leg up and check more boxes on your Airline Application. After passing one or both tests you will take the pass report to your local FSDO, and they will issue you a temporary certificate so that you can continue your training.

The next step after getting your Commercial Certificate is to call FTI and ask when you can take the Airline Transport Pilot Certificate Training Program (ATP/CTP). The ATP/CTP course is required for all pilots to qualify for the ATP Multi Exam. The course itself is composed of  30 hours of Ground school, 4 hours of Fixed Based SIM, and 6 hours of Full Flight SIM. The course does not prepare you for the test though, and you’ll need to study for this exam also. Shepard Air is again the recommended study material for this exam.

ATP or Type?

After you have completed these steps, you are ready to take your ATP Practical Test. This brings in a whole new question especially for students who are using VA Benefits to pay for their training. Do I get a Type Rating or just take the ATP? The answer is largely based on what you want to do in the civilian world. The airlines are going to put you in the type they need you in, and you will take their Rating course even if you already hold the type. Its their way of holding standards high for their pilots and making sure you use their procedures. In the end it comes down to marketability. If you stay out of trouble, built hours, and get your ATP, odds are you’re going to get hired SOMEWHERE. Most people though don’t want to just be hired “somewhere”, odds are if you’re reading this; that you’ve done your research and know where you want to be hired. Every Certificate, Type Rating, endorsement, award, and hour of experience that you add to your resume is going help you.

The first question when thinking about a type rating is “Why do I want this?” The answer to that may be the only answer you need. There’re airlines that fly one aircraft type and many of them required applicants to be typed in their airframe before applying. Even though most have removed that restriction it’s still strongly preferred in an applicant. If you want to get on with an airline that flies a specific type, then we recommend getting the type rating… but if you don’t care what airline you get with then no, an ATP is all you’ll need to get a position. If the answer to this question is, ‘Because it’ll help me get to ___’ or ‘Because I want to’. Then go for it but if you’re still debating, then you may not need to. Boeing has estimated that over the next 20 years, 790,000 new pilots will be needed worldwide. No matter how you look at it, you will be needed.

A Type isn’t needed for everyone, the biggest thing will be having an ATP Certificate that allows you to fly Part 121 operations. Another thing to think about is that the Annual Cap for Flight Training. The current VA cap is set at $13,986.72, and flight training isn’t cheap. But later when you’re working as a captain for one of the Major Airlines; you’ll agree it was worth it.

There will be need for your experience in the civilian world and FTI will be around to help in the process and answer any of the questions you still have. Our instructors  care about helping you achieve your goals because many of them have been in your same shoes. In the end the most important part about your journey is taking that first step.

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