# What is the average cost/timeframe of obtaining a pilot job at a major passenger airline in the US?

Please note that I'm not asking about getting a certificate good enough for flying a wide-body passenger jet (see related question). Rather, I'm asking about getting from zero flying experience to an actual pilot/co-pilot job at a major US airline (AA/Delta/UA/Southwest).

Perhaps some regulatory organization maintains such a statistics? Or even the airlines themselves?

I'm well aware that people can have various career paths (from ex-military pilots to guys who paid for 10000 flights hours out of their pockets), but with 40,000+ pilots employed by major airlines there must be a statistically-significant median experience.

• Well, you're not going to get the job without the certificate (and likely some amount of time working for a smaller "regional airline" carrier). Exactly how long depends on the great unknowable "market forces" -- which airlines are expanding, which are folding, and how many pilots are retiring... – voretaq7 Apr 23 '14 at 15:54
• Right now there are over 40,000 pilots/co-pilots working between the 4 biggest airlines alone. I'm sure that there is a certain common scenario of how they got there. Perhaps the FAA compiles some sort of a statistics? – JonathanReez Apr 23 '14 at 16:04
• As far as I know that's not something the FAA keeps track of (NBAA or ALPA might track this though) - We might be able to scare up a number for you, but just as a general warning I'd expect pretty wide error bars around any number we give you. – voretaq7 Apr 23 '14 at 17:01
• I don't know what the average is, but the minimum is $0 and 0 hours - you can get hired as a trainee pilot without experience. – RedGrittyBrick Apr 23 '14 at 20:26 • @RedGrittyBrick not in the US. The only$0 cost 0 time pilot training is courtesy of the USAF but I wouldnt characterize that as a free ride. – casey Apr 23 '14 at 23:59

If you can't get a military slot, getting up to the point you can instruct from nothing can vary wildly in cost. The accelerated flight training programs will do this for around $70,000. Next you instruct until you hit 135 mins and do either that or instructing. At this point you shouldn't be paying for time anymore. When you get on at a regional you'll sit right seat for a few to many years then you'll upgrade. After about 1.5-2 years in the left seat you'll have the bare minimums to apply at a major. • Your answer is still a bit vague. The military path is clear enough, but I would be curious to see more specific figures for the civilian one. Does the$70,000 include everything or are there more payments? What's "a few to many years" on average - 1/5/10 years? – JonathanReez Apr 24 '14 at 10:05