Start Your
Commercial Pilot Career
at American Winds!

Get your Commercial Pilot Certification in as little as 12 months! Whether you see yourself in command of a commercial jet, a corporate charter or a freight craft, our focused programs can take you there faster than you’d think.
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Kickstart Your Career as an In-Demand Pilot

Commercial airline captains are in demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics foresees a need for more than 16,000 new airline and commercial pilots EVERY YEAR over the coming decade. That’s largely because so many current pilots are nearing the mandatory retirement age.

What does that mean for you? You don’t need a backup plan.

The door is wide open at the airlines for qualified pilots seeking employment as a First Officer – and the transition into that Captain’s seat happens faster than you’d think!

Commercial Pilot Earning Potential

The average salary for commercial pilots is more than $100,000 a year. And that wage goes up every year you work! Retiring Captains often report final-year earnings in excess of $500,000 – and that’s without adding in benefits, like insurance and retirement plans.

Average Non-Airline Commercial Pilot Pay

Year 1: $50,000-$80,000

Year 5-6 $100,000-$200,000

Year 10-12 $200,000-$312,000

Average Airline Pilot Pay

First Officer Year 1: $78,000-$100,000

Captain Year 5-6: $199,000-$300,000

Captain year 10-12: $235,000-$386,000

American Winds makes it easy for you to get your associate degree and R-ATP in far less time than a traditional 4-year degree – which means way less debt to pay down and getting paid to fly much sooner.

How to Become a Commercial Airline Pilot

Transitioning from Victor airways to jet routes is easier – and faster – at American Winds! Here are the steps you’ll take to get into that left-hand seat on the big planes:

Step 1 Earn Your Private Pilot Certificate (PPC)

  • 17 years of age or older
  • Pass FAA Knowledge Exam
  • Pass and oral test and a check ride
  • Log 40 hours of flight time (including solo, night, cross-country, and more)
  • What you can do: Fly solo and carry passengers
  • What you cannot do: Get paid to fly

Step 2 Get your Instrument Rating

  • Hold a Current PPL
  • Log 37 hours flight time in simulator and aircraft, as required by the FAA
  • Pass IFR check ride
  • What you can do: Fly in clouds and other meteorological conditions that limit visibility, using only the plane’s instruments
  • What you cannot do: Get paid to fly

Step 3 Earn Your Commercial Pilot Certificate (PPC)

  • 18 years of age or older
  • Hold a PPL
  • Pass FAA Knowledge Exam
  • Pass an oral test and check ride
  • Log additional 250 hours of flight time (including PIC, nighttime cross-country, minimum takeoffs/ landings at towered airports, and more)
  • What you can do: Get paid to fly!
  • What you cannot do: Teach others to fly, apply to major airlines

Step 4 Earn Your Certified Instructor rating (CFI, CFII or MEI)

  • 18 years of age or older
  • Hold current CPL or ATP certification
  • Hold instrument rating (for CFII)
  • Hold commercial certificate for multi-engine planes (for MEI)
  • Pass the FAA knowledge test, FAA practical flight test and oral exam (for CFI)
  • Pass the Flight Instructor Instrument written examination (for CFII)
  • Obtain at least a second-class FAA medical certificate and pass the FAA practical flight test (for MEI)
  • What you can do: Get paid to rack up flight hours while teaching others to fly!
  • What you cannot do: Apply to major airlines

Step 5 Earn Your Restricted Airline Transport Pilot certification (RATP)

  • Age 23 years or older
  • Complete the assocaite degree program at American Winds
  • Complete 1,250 hours total flight time (1,500 without the degree) including:
    • 500 hours of cross-country flight time
    • 100 hours of night flight time
    • 75 hours of instrument flight time (simulated or actual)
  • Hold an instrument rating
  • What you can do: Apply to First Officer positions at airlines! As an FO, you’ll earn a great paycheck while working toward qualifications to become an airline Captain!

What is the Restricted ATP?

It's the certificate required by the FAA to fly as a captain for the commercial airlines (regional / majors).

The ATP certificate requires a total of 1,500 hours of flight time. The FAA ATP Pilot Certificate should not be confused with the Restricted ATP degree diploma. The Restricted ATP is a designation that the FAA will grant the authority to colleges and universities with approved aviation degree programs to issue a diploma called the Restricted ATP. This diploma will allow college or university graduates to be hired in less flight time. The second diploma with FAA logo signifies that the degree program is approved by the FAA to be hired by the airlines.

R-ATP Bachelor's Degree = 1,000 flight hours needed to be hired by the airlines.

R-ATP Associate Degree = 1,250 flight hours needed to be hired by the airlines.

No Approved Aviation Degree = 1,500 hours needed to be hired by the airlines.

American Winds by the Numbers

As an FAA certified flight school and an accredited aviation college, American Winds helps you take flight faster with:

1-on-1 individualized instruction

24/7/365 availability for flight time

Hands-on training that starts on day 1

Flexible programs to fit a variety of career goals