AIRLINE TRANSPORT PILOTS LICENCE (ATPL)
What is an ATPL?
An air transport pilot licence (ATPL) authorises you to conduct private and commercial operations. In addition to private and commercial pilot licence privileges, you can be the pilot-in-command or the co-pilot of any operation. You must hold the appropriate aircraft category rating on your ATPL and the class or type rating for the aircraft you want to fly.
How do I get an ATPL?
You must be at least 21 years old to get your ATPL. You also need to do the following for the category rating you want to get with your ATPL:
- hold either a commercial pilot licence or multi-crew pilot licence with the same aircraft category rating
- complete the relevant flight training
- learn the theory and pass an ATPL theory exam for the category rating
- complete an approved course of multi-crew cooperation training
- pass an ATPL flight test
- meet the minimum aeronautical experience requirements.
What is involved in the ATPL theory?
The theory syllabus for the ATPL includes subjects such as air law, human factors (with a focus on multi-crew operations), meteorology, navigation, flight planning, performance and aircraft loading, aerodynamics, aircraft systems and, for the aeroplane licence, the instrument rating theory.
You can study the theory yourself or you can attend classes that are run by training providers.
An ATPL theory exam includes seven subject exams. Four of the subjects are common and only need to be passed once. However, you need to pass all seven subjects within a two-year period.
If you already have your ATPL and want to gain an additional category rating, you need to pass the remaining three category-specific subject exams.
What Flight Training is Required?
Unlike other licences, an ATPL applicant is likely to have completed the required training well before they apply for the licence, which is usually once the pilot has accumulated the required experience. If you haven’t already completed the training, you will need to do it before you attempt the flight test.
The ATPL flight training focuses on the competencies of the pilot-in-command in a multi-crew aircraft operation and is usually covered during command upgrade training. ATPL training also covers instrument-rating competencies, multi-crew operations, multi-engine aircraft competencies and other generic piloting competencies.
You don’t have to do the instrument-rating training if you are applying for an ATPL(H).
What are the medical requirements for an ATPL?
You need to have a Class 1 medical certificate to sit the ATPL flight test, and whenever you are exercising the privileges of your ATPL. Class 1 medical certificates are issued by CASA. If you are exercising PPL privileges, you only need a Class 2 medical certificate.
For more information on the ATPL, download CASA’s fact sheet here