FAPA.aero | Summary of R-ATP Regulations for Part 121 Operations

Future Pilots

What You’ll Need to Earn a Restricted Airline Pilot Transport (R-ATP) Certificate

A summary of requirements for the FAA Airline Transport Pilot Certificate. More information can be found on the FAA's Pilot Training - ATP Certificate webpage.

All Part 121 airline cockpit crewmembers are required to possess an R-ATP. An applicant for an R-ATP will be required to complete an ATP-Certification Training Program (ATP-CTP) prior to taking the knowledge exam.

The ATP-CTP requires specific ground school, as well as instruction in a fixed-based training device and a full-motion simulator. CTP training is often taken in conjunction with preparation for the ATP knowledge exam. It is not a requirement for airlines to provide this training, only that a pilot has completed this training (similar to a type rating). Additionally, prior to taking the practical test (checkride), a pilot must have logged at least 50 hours of multi-engine flight time. Up to 25 of those hours may be credited from a flight simulator certificated in a program under FAR parts 121, 135, 141, or 142. Many newly-hired pilots are hired with 25 hours of multi-engine time and reach the 50-hour threshhold during their training.

While the standard ATP certificate demands 1,500 hours of total flight time logged, a “Restricted” ATP (R-ATP) will allow a pilot to serve as a second-in-command (SIC), also known as the copilot or first officer, in part 121 operations. To qualify for a R-ATP a pilot must meet one of the following criteria:

Background Total flight time (plus 200 XC)

Military pilot and 21 years old

750 TT

Aviation Bachelor’s degree (60 aviation credits)
part 141 and 21 years old

1,000 TT

Aviation Associate’s degree
part 141 and 21 years old

1,250 TT

Aviation Bachelors’s degree (30 aviation credits)
part 141 and 21 years old

1,250 TT

None of the above, only being 21 years old

1,500 TT

An aviation degree is defined as majoring in an aviation related degree. The minimum semester credit hours for a bachelor’s degree are 60 while it is 30 for an associate’s degree. In both cases, pilots must earn their instrument rating and commercial certificate with an affiliated part 141 training center. Any aviation related degree would have to comply with AC 61-School. Institutions will need to apply for their graduates to be recognized as meeting that prescribed minima. Once institutions have been approved by the FAA they will be listed on this web page

Pilots must also meet the rest of the flight time requirements for a regular ATP as outlined in 61.159 (cross-country, night, PIC, instrument, etc.).

Remember, cross-country time is defined as point-to-point (traveling greater than 50 nautical miles with or without a landing) for the purposes of meeting any ATP flight experience minima.

To act as a pilot-in-command (PIC), also known as the captain, in part 121 operations a pilot must have at least 1000 hours as PIC and/or SIC in part 121 operations.

Meet the FAPA team

Captain Andy Simonds

Senior Staff Writer

Captain AndySimonds

In 1980, Captain Andy Simonds first soloed in a beat-up fire-prone Cessna 152 Aerobat in Madison, Wisconsin.   After a tour in general aviation as a CFI and Part 135 charter pilot, Andy started collecting uniforms from American Eagle, TWA, Airborne Express and, finally, American Airlines where he is currently a Chief Pilot in NY and a captain on the A-320.  Whether left seat, right seat, back seat or jumpseat he never met an airplane he didn't like.  Andy would fly all airplanes to which somebody (who had the guts) gave him the keys including Metroliners, Jetstreams, DC-9, B-727, B-737, B-757, B-767 and the Airbus 319/321.

Client Testimonials


Hired at US Airways

Judy and all at FAPA, Thank you all very much for your help and support. I was just hired at US Airways! I appreciate being a FAPA member for such a long time and finally having my dream come to fruition. You are wonderful at what you do and I profusely thank you!! A special thank you to Judy - You are an amazing woman, deserving of many gifts. Thank you for your Skype-preps, they made all the difference in the world. Thank you Thank you Thank you!!