How long it takes to get to 1,500 flight hours can vary depending on the path you take to build the hours.
The answer to get to 1,500 flight hours is that it will take 1,500 hours of flight time.
But we’re sure you don’t want to hear that.
Generally, if done full time, it will take you 3-4 years to get to 1,500 flight hours.
Working as a certified flight instructor is an excellent way to quickly accumulate flight hours, which is why flight schools are usually filled with young, recently acquired commercial pilot license holders instructing students.
On the other hand, if you work for a Part 135 operator, getting to 1,500 hours can be a much slower process.
The Fastest Ways to Get to 1,500 Flight Hours More Quickly
1. Become a Certified Flight Instructor
The most popular way to build flight hours is to get a job as a certified flight instructor.
However, keep in mind that according to FAR 61.195, “In any 24-consecutive-hour period, a flight instructor may not conduct more than 8 hours of flight training.”
2. Banner Towing
Banner towing might not exactly be the most glamorous of jobs, but can be a good one for pilots who want to reach 1,500 flight hours more quickly.
It is also great for improving your stick and rudder skills.
However, on days with poor weather or high winds, you might not fly at all.
3. Join a Flying Club
A flying club can be a good choice thanks to its more economically friendly flying options, which will almost certainly be lower than the rates offered by flight schools.
4. Become a Skydive Pilot
Due to constantly taking off and landing, with changing wind conditions and load size, and having to maintain excellent control of the aircraft too, your skills will undoubtedly improve if you take on a skydive jump pilot role.
However, you can also burn out quickly, and won’t have the opportunity to fly cross-country or at night.
5. Become an Air Tour Pilot
Becoming an air tour pilot can be very satisfying due to the nature of the job, but keep in mind that how quickly you will be able to build flight hours will mostly be down to seasonality and your location.
6. Fly For a Part 135 Operator
Flying for a Part 135 operator isn’t actually a great way to quickly build flight hours, but you will learn many valuable skills that you will need for the airlines.
It’s a better choice if the quality of the hours you want to accumulate are more important than the quantity.
How Much Does It Cost to Get to 1,500 Flight Hours?
How much it costs to get to 1,500 flight hours depends on the path you take, as well as the cost of your training, that will vary by flight school.
If once you have obtained your commercial pilot license you take on paid pilot role, you can earn money while you work towards building your flight time.
So the cost to get to 1,500 flight hours if you decide to get a paid pilot role will only be the costs associated in getting your commercial pilot license, including all the training, and plane hire, checkride, and written test fees, as well as an equipment fees, like aviation headsets and handheld aviation radios.
This can be upwards of $100,000.
Will Airlines Hire You Before You Complete 1,500 Flight Hours?
Airlines will only hire pilots who have 1,500 flight hours, as it is still a requirement for a restricted airline pilot license (R-ATP), though there are exceptions to the FAA’s 1,500 Hour Rule:
- Military pilots are only required to build 750 hours of flight time.
- Graduates who are 21 years or older with a bachelor’s degree in aviation from an approved university can build 1,000 hours of flight time.
- Graduates who are 21 years or older with an Associates’ degree in aviation can build 1,250 hours flight time.
Why Was the 1,500 Hour Rule Implemented?
The FAA implemented the 1,500 hour rule in response to the 2009 crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 near Buffalo, New York, that killed all the passengers and flight crew, as well as one person the ground.
Previously, pilots only required 250 hours to qualify for an Air Transport Pilot (ATP) license, but this was increased in 2013.
Should the 1,500 Hour Rule Even Exist?
Practically all pilots dislike the 1,500 hour rule, especially as some people think it actually reduces aviation safety since people build up flight time in areas that are not necessarily associated with flying complex, commercial aircraft.
What Are the Requirements for an Airline Transport License?
The full requirements to hold an airline transport license include:
- Be 23 years of age
- Hold a commercial pilot certificate with an instrument rating
- Hold a 1st class medical certificate
- Log 1,500 hours of flight time (including meeting the flight time requirements specified in FAR 61.159)
- Pass the ATP knowledge test and practical exam
Do Flight Simulator Hours Count?
According to the FAA, flight simulator use can count towards flight hours.
Under FAR part 141:
- 7 hours (35%) of 35 hours of flight training towards a private pilot certificate
- 17 hours (50%) of 35 hours of flight training towards an instrument rating
- 36 hours (30%) of 120 hours of flight training towards a commercial pilot certificate
- 10.5 hours (30%) of 25 hours of flight training towards a multi-engine rating
- 12.5 hours (50%) of 25 hours of flight training towards an ATP certificate
- 2.5 hours(10%) of 25 hours of flight training towards a flight instructor certificate
- 1.5 hours(10%) of 15 hours of flight training towards an instrument flight instructor rating.
Can 2 Pilots Log Flight Time?
Whether 2 pilots can log flight time depends on the situation.
A private or commercial pilot can log PIC time when:
- They are the sole manipulator of the controls of an aircraft for which they are rated.
- They act as PIC of an aircraft on which more than one pilot is required under the type certification of the aircraft, or the regulations under which the flight is conducted.
So, while it is not possible for two pilots to act as PIC simultaneously, it is possible for two pilots to log PIC flight time simultaneously
Can You Log Flight Time If You Don’t Take Off?
Though surprising, it can actually be possible to log flight time if you don’t take off.
As long as your planned flight was neither terminated nor suspended, you can log every minute that you were parked on the taxiway.
The same applies when you’re awaiting takeoff clearance due to ground delays.
See Also: How to Get a Student Pilot Certificate