Two questions about time building.

La Rue

Mar 5, 2002
Total Time
First, what is a realistic time frame (in months), zero to ATP for someone today who chooses to enter into a good quality flight-training program such as FSI Academy at KVRB or at the Lakeland school?

I am assuming here that a person would go the CFI route and teach at said school until the 1500 hr mark.

Second, (non-CFI route) what is the realistic possibility for someone with fewer than 500 hrs to land a freight job in a single or light twin running night/checks? What would be the average hi and average low for yearly totals this person could expect to log?

Back in my days a newly inked commercial rating would land you in the cockpit of a DC-3 flying cargo at the rate of 800 hrs plus a year. The ATP was a phenomena only encountered once you crossed the threshold of an airline job and a commercial multi would guarantee you the ability to feed your family, in some cases very well.

Oh yes one more if you don’t mind.

At the rate companies are handing out type ratings what could one expect to be an “average” number of types someone with say 3,000 hrs and 4 to 5 years of charter/corporate experience would hold?

I’m curious as to what input I can receive, I have my own ideas but I’m curious as to where they are compared to everyone else’s.

In the past, while I was based in Asia, I encountered several kids from Singapore who had less than 500 hrs total and they were crewing G-II’s around the Pacific.

Just curious


Well-known member
Dec 14, 2001
Total Time

In some less developed countries, it's common to find inexperienced pilots in positions of high responsibility. In many cases these individuals may be operating large turboprop or turbojet airplanes from rough and even unimproved airfields, in low weather, with few (and unreliable) navaids, and unique environmental considerations (such as kidnappings and landmines) to deal with. However, in the US, it's quite different.

Companies typically don't hand out type ratings. The number of ratings a pilot might have largely depends on the type of flying he's been doing. Pilots with fifteen thousand hours may hold no type ratings, while pilots with twentyfive hundred hours may have several. Pilots in some jobs will fly one or two hundred hours annually, while pilots in other jobs will fly a thousand hours in the same time frame. Two to three type ratings are common by the four thousand hour mark, but again, this varies widely with the individual.

The amount of time it takes to go from ab initio expeirence to that required for the ATP largely depends on opportunity and finances. Some of us worked for years to earn enough to get through the private pilot certificate, while others had their ATP in the same time frame. The employment market makes a difference; when hiring is hot and heavy (typically the latter part of each decade), student starts are the same, and there is plenty of work at the entry levels of the industry. People move through faster. For many of us, fifteen years isn't unusual to get into a decent seat and make anything close to livable.

A lot of folks out there won't understand that, and haven't been through the cycles now. The present downturn in hiring is really quite minor compared to what it's been in the past, so progress is still available at a decent rate.

For my own soapbox, I can't stress enough that building hours is a futile and wasteful endevor. Build experience, but if you feel the need to simply build hours, then just write them in your logbook and be done with it. Experience has no price; hours are cheaper than dirt.

As far as landing a freight or passenger job with less than 500 hours, one must consider that most all such jobs will be conducted under Part 135. To act as pilot-in-command under 135.243, a minimum of 500 hours are needed for VFR-only operations. IFR requires a minimum of 1,200 hours total time, plus other specific requirements.


Well-known member
Nov 26, 2001
Total Time
Zero to ATP at FSI

I taught at FSI in Vero several years ago, so I know a little about the program.

I would opine that it can be done in something like two years at FSI if everything falls into place and you mind your Ps and Qs. Six to seven month to earn ratings from Private to MEI. Then, you have to get hired there, which is no easy feat because of competition from your peers. There is a selection process that is not unlike the airlines. After you get hired, you may spend a few months working in Dispatch or helping with scheduling. That would be an internship. After that time, you will be standardized in the singles and eventually in the Seminoles. Assuming you can stay busy, which can be hard some months, you can build the time and be ready to take your ATP.

A plus would be to get into one of FSI's foreign airline contract programs. Ordinarily, more junior CFIs are not taken into these programs because of low turnover among the senior (in age) instructors. But, it can be done. When I was at FSI ten years ago there were several foreign contracts, such as Alitalia, in which I instructed, Air France, Tyrolean, Asiana and Swissair. Swissair had been there the longest, but I haven't a clue about its fate since the airline went TU. The reason why it is a plus to get into a contract program is these programs are customized to the contractor's need. There are great opportunities to learn crew procedures and to learn sophisticated flying techiques. I learned more than you can believe about flying large equipment from the Alitalia program.

I agree with Avbug 100% about building experience v. hours in the logbook. There are those opportunities at FSI, to get actual and night, as much as any instructing can offer, except for ATP and a couple of others which fly cross-country across the country.

Your comment about landing the DC-3 job sounds like something an old United captain told me. He flew DC-3s in WWII. He said he got out, got on with United, and merely changed uniforms.

Hope this helps a little.