General Qualifications and Training
FAA First Officer Minimum Qualification and Flight Experience Requirements (“FOQ Rule”)
Despite great advances in aircraft technology that have immeasurably improved safety, the flight crew is still responsible for making hundreds of decisions on each and every flight to operate in the safest manner possible.
The development of a highly skilled pilot begins on the ground, in an aviation-centric training environment such as a university aviation program, the military, or some other type of training environment. More on pathways.
Flight training is a progression of in-flight and ground school training that ends with a commercial-certificated pilot who has documented sufficient knowledge, skill, and flight proficiency to obtain the certificates (private pilot first, then commercial pilot) and ratings (instrument, multiengine) necessary to enter commercial flight operations.
The requirements below ensure that pilots are well-trained and possess the necessary experience prior to entering into Part 121 airline service to safely and skillfully perform at the highest possible levels.
FAA Minimum Qualification and Flight Experience RequirementsTo serve as a first officer in Part 121 (airline) operations:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Hold an Air Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate or an ATP certificate with restricted privileges (R-ATP) (both include instrument rating qualification)
- An appropriate aircraft type rating
- At least a second-class medical certificate
- Meet all previous (i.e., “before FOQ rule”) requirements
- Prior to taking the ATP knowledge test, successfully complete an ATP certification training program
- Have a minimum of 50 hours in class of airplane (e.g., multiengine)
- Meet all the requirements of FAR 61.159
- Be at least 21 years old
- Hold a commercial pilot certificate with instrument rating
- Prior to taking the ATP knowledge test, successfully complete an ATP CTP
- Pass the ATP knowledge test and practical test
- Meet the aeronautical experience requirements of § 61.159. A pilot may be eligible if he or she was a military-trained pilot and has 750 hours total time, a graduate of a four-year bachelor degree program with an aviation major and has a total of 1,000 hours total time, a graduate of a two-year associate degree program with an aviation major and has 1,250 hours total time, or has 1,500 hours total time as a pilot.
- Meet the requirements of FAR 61.160
- Meet all of the previous (i.e., “before FOQ rule”) requirements
- Have a minimum of 1,000 flight hours in air carrier operations as second in command in Part 121 operations, a pilot in command in operations under either § 135.243(a)(1) or § 91.1053(a)(2)(i), or any combination of these