Understanding a Frozen ATPL: Steps to Unfreeze Your Licence

Understanding a Frozen ATPL: Steps to Unfreeze Your Licence

Becoming a professional pilot is a significant achievement that requires dedicated training and perseverance. There are different types of pilot licences, including Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL), Commercial Pilot’s Licence (CPL), Airline Transport Pilot’s Licence (ATPL), and Multi-Pilot Licence (MPL). In this blog, we will focus on the concept of a Frozen ATPL and the steps involved in unfreezing it.

Frozen ATPL: The term “Frozen ATPL” refers to a CPL licence with an Instrument Rating (IR) with ATPL theory completed. Similarly, an MPL is a restricted licence that allows the holder to act as a co-pilot on a specific airline’s multi-crew aircraft. To obtain these licences, pilots must undergo both theoretical and practical training.

ATPL Theoretical Training: Before attempting CPL or ATPL exams, candidates must complete an approved theory training course. The ATPL theoretical training covers 13 subjects including air law, flight planning, aircraft performance, and human factors. These subjects can be studied through MPL, integrated, or modular courses, offering different approaches to learning.

ATPL Exams: After completing the theoretical training, pilots must pass all 13 ATPL exams with a minimum score of 75% in each subject. These computer-based tests are conducted by national aviation authorities and require thorough preparation. Understanding the difficulty ranking of ATPL subjects can be helpful for effective study.

Upgrading to an ATPL: To upgrade from a CPL or MPL to an ATPL, pilots must meet the experience requirements and pass an ATPL skills test. No additional training course is necessary as they have already fulfilled the theory requirements. This process is commonly referred to as “unfreezing” the “frozen ATPL.” Pilots must log the required flight hours, pass the flight test, and pay the licence fee to complete the upgrade. Once an individual has passed their IR rating, they then have seven years to “unfreeze” their ATPL licence.

ATPL Flight Requirements: The flight requirements for an ATPL include accumulating 1500 hours of flight time, which can be acquired through various means. Many pilots work as co-pilots in commercial airlines to gain the necessary flight hours and experience. The specific breakdown of flight requirements includes:

  • 500 hours as a multi-pilot in 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 flight as pilot in command or co-pilot.

Obtaining an ATPL is a rigorous and lengthy process, but it opens up opportunities for career advancement, including promotion to captain. Understanding the concept of a Frozen ATPL and the steps involved in unfreezing it allows aspiring pilots to navigate their training and progression effectively. Dedication, experience, and successful completion of exams and flight requirements are essential to achieving an ATPL and pursuing a fulfilling career in aviation.