The video Why the World is Running Out of Pilots discusses a pilot shortage, and notes the tortuous path to an airline transport pilot license (specifically). It claims there are 1500 flight hours needed.

I also know general aviation is in steep decline over the last 50 years, whilst the cost of GA aircraft have gone up dramatically. I wonder if there is a connection between these two things.

If you own a small plane and fly yourself around in the "Mighty Luscombe" for fun or Youtubing, do those flight hours count toward the aforementioned 1500 hours?

Is there a floor to the minimum quality of airplane which "counts" - do you need a Cessna class, or will a light sport aircraft, experimental, parasail, or a towed glider suffice?

Does these 1500 hours differ in any way from the ~230 hours needed for a "commericial license", or can you do it all in the same Cessna?

In a general sense, would it help the pilot shortage if the government would act to promote general aviation as a hobby, growing it back to where it was?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ GA aircraft aren't all that expensive. NEW ones are, but '60s-era 172s, Cherokees, and the like can be had for around the price of a new mid-range SUV or pickup. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    May 26, 2019 at 18:53
  • $\begingroup$ Not a dup since I am asking about an ATPL not a CPL. Edited to increase distinction. @pondlife $\endgroup$ May 26, 2019 at 20:23

1 Answer 1


The video isn't very clear, but most of the numbers it gives are "total time". This is cumulative, so the 1500 hours required for an ATPL includes the 250 hours required to get a CPL, which itself includes the 35-40 hours required to get a PPL plus the 15 hours required to add an instrument rating to your PPL. Also included in there somewhere will be 10 hours to add a multi-engine rating.

All loggable time counts toward the total. It doesn't matter if the aircraft is an airplane, helicopter, gyrocopter, glider, balloon, powered parachute, etc. However, at least in the US, ultralights cannot be logged because they are legally not "aircraft".

As noted in the video, most aspiring airline pilots get flying jobs as soon as they get their CPL, most commonly as Certificated Flight Instructors. Many schools even guarantee a job as a CFI for students who graduate. Few people can afford tonrent their way to an ATPL, and it just doesn't make sense to use loans to fly when there is a shortage of pilots to take jobs where they can get paid to fly instead.

  • $\begingroup$ But from what the video is saying, the wage for a novice ATPL is rubbish and you have no chance of paying back the costs/loans without sleeping in hovels and eating ramen. $\endgroup$ May 25, 2019 at 19:50
  • $\begingroup$ Being an airline pilot isn't the way to riches @Harper, and it's hard to get into. There are enough people that can fund their own way to an ATPL and ex military pilots who can easily transition that the airlines aren't having to fund training at the moment. You can build hours in a light aircraft if you have the cashola. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    May 25, 2019 at 20:16
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    $\begingroup$ Problem in the US is the "Colgan Rule" forces the Regionals to only hire 1500 hr pilots (with exceptions) so there is no path into a regional operation with 3-500 hours like there once was. You have to slog it out flying checks or Beech 1900s to get to the 1500. There is a severe shortage of crews at the jet Regionals with frequent canceled flights due to lack of crews. I was acquainted with several US Regional chief pilots in my former job and they complained bitterly about how the 1500 hr requirement screwed up their recruiting. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    May 25, 2019 at 20:44
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    $\begingroup$ @Harper There are plenty of flying jobs that can be used to build time needed to get to the airlines. As mentioned, many become instructors. There are also charters, cargo, ferry, crop-dusting, pipeline patrol, and many other options. The wages aren't great, but it's a lot better to get paid to fly than to be the one paying. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    May 26, 2019 at 1:24

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