Guide to Unfreezing Your ATPL: Taking Your Pilot Dreams to the Next Level

Cockpit of the modern passenger aircraft in flight. Pilots fly an airplane over the mountain landscape. Blue cloudy sky is visible outside the cockpit.

Navigating the world of aviation can feel like learning a new language. But don’t worry, we’re here to break it down. If you’ve ever heard of the term “Frozen ATPL” and wondered what it’s all about, this guide is for you. We will cover what it is, and how to go about unfreezing your ATPL.

What is a Frozen ATPL Anyway?

A Frozen ATPL is a little bit like a stepping stone for pilots. It’s like having your provisional driving license when you’re learning to drive. You’ve got some of the skills, you’ve got some of the knowledge, but you’re not quite at the top just yet. In pilot terms, it means that you’ve passed your Commercial Pilot’s License (CPL), you’ve gained some qualifications, like your Multi-Engine Instrument Rating (MEIR), and you’ve passed the dreaded ATPL theory.

How Do I Get a Full ATPL?

Getting your Frozen ATPL and then unfreezing your ATPL, is like going from that provisional driving license to a full one. Here’s how to do it


1. Hit The Books

Before you can captain the biggest aeroplanes, you need to know your stuff. You’ll need to sign up for an approved theoretical training program with a school such as Bristol Groundschool or Aeros.

You’ll need to study 13 different subjects from Air Law and General Navigation, to Communications and Flight Planning

2. Take The Tests

After studying, you’ll need to take all 13 exams. These are done electronically on a computer, and include a mix of multiple-choice and type-your-answer questions. You will take these at a CAA-authorised site, such as the CAA offices in Crawley.

3. Get Some Real Experience

Just like driving a car, you’ll need some practice. After you’ve passed your CPL and MEIR, you can gain some experience in several ways. Most pilots will join an airline as a first or second officer. Others might choose to do something like aerial surveying, or even bush flying! 

To begin unfreezing your ATPL, you’ll need the following:

– 500 hours on a multi-pilot transport or commuter aircraft

– 250 hours as Pilot in Command (PIC)

– 200 hours on cross-country flights

– 75 Hours of Instrument Flight Time

– 100 hours of night flying as either Pilot in Command or Co-Pilot

– 1500 Hours Total Flight Time

4. Final Check

Once you’ve got the experience, there’s one last test to show that you’ve got the skills. Pass this, pay your fee to the CAA (£286 at the time of writing), and your ATPL is no longer frozen!

Why Bother?

With an unfrozen ATPL, you can become the main pilot, or Captain, on a big commercial airliner. It’s a huge step up in the world of aviation and can lead to more opportunities and better pay.

Wrapping Up

So, if you’re dreaming of flying high and taking your pilot career to the next level, understanding the process of unfreezing your ATPL is key. It’s a journey of learning, testing, and gaining experience. But with some dedication, you can reach the skies and achieve your aviation dreams!

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