Do I need a PPL license to get a CPL/ATPL license?

I could not find anything on the net regarding my question.


3 Answers 3


Yes, with a couple of exceptions. FAR 61.123 contains the requirements for a commercial certificate, while 61.153 contains the requirements for an ATP certificate.

FAR 61.123(h) states than an applicant must:

Hold at least a private pilot certificate issued under this part or meet the requirements of §61.73

FAR 61.73 refers to the option for military pilots to apply for an FAA certificate based on their military qualifications. For non-military pilots, the commercial certificate can only be earned after obtaining the private pilot certificate.

FAR 61.153(d) includes the ability to use a foreign commercial or ATP certificate as a prerequisite. An applicant must:

Meet at least one of the following requirements:

(1) Holds a commercial pilot certificate with an instrument rating issued under this part;

(2) Meet the military experience requirements under §61.73 of this part to qualify for a commercial pilot certificate, and an instrument rating if the person is a rated military pilot or former rated military pilot of an Armed Force of the United States; or

(3) Holds either a foreign airline transport pilot license with instrument privileges, or a foreign commercial pilot license with an instrument rating, that—

(i) Was issued by a contracting State to the Convention on International Civil Aviation; and

(ii) Contains no geographical limitations.


For the European regulations there exist two ways of gaining a CPL:

Way A, also called "modular": Before being allowed to start your CPL training, a PPL is mandatory + night flying permission. In total you need 150h of flight time out of your PPL.

Way B, also called "integrated": A flight school offering modular courses does not neccessarily be able to offer integrated courses, so clarify beforehand. Offering such integrated courses requires special school certification. This course, however, get's you to receive a CPL/IR from pedestrian to commercial pilot without any intermediate stop. Having a CPL, you are authorized to perform the rights of a PPL.

  • $\begingroup$ Are the requirements for the integrated path similar to the modular path but without the paper work to get the intermediate PPL license during the course? $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 18:15
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ When you do your integrated training you will end up with less hours compared to a modular student. Mostly, also in a shorter period of time. The integrated course simply aims at the CPL/IR multi engine,solely. Though, the flying and technical requirements stay the same. When you do modular training each license itself is supposed to be useful on its own (first PPL, second IR single and multi engine rating, third CPL single and multi engine). $\endgroup$
    – LRT
    Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 18:31
  • $\begingroup$ @BSteinhurst effectively the "integrated" path combines both training and examination paths into a single course, fast tracking the candidate. $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 5:56

You definitely do.

You get your certificates in following order:

  1. PPL
  2. CPL
  3. ME
  4. ATPL Frozen ( This is actual license for becoming and FO)
  5. ATPL ( It means you are eligible to become Captain)
  • $\begingroup$ Not necessarily, I got Commercial and ATP without ever having a PPL. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 0:13
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelHall see LRT's answer. You probably got an implicit PPL as part of an integrated course. $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 5:57
  • $\begingroup$ @jwenting, nope, I was military. See Nathan G's answer. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 16:12
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelHall in that case your military license counted as a PPL equivalent. $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 6:57
  • $\begingroup$ @jwenting, incorrect. First, there is no such thing as a military pilot license. And if there were you would be unable to exercise PPL privileges with it. There is no military occupational specialty designation equivalent to a PPL. You can make a case for commercial, but not private. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 15:29

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