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Home > Becoming a Pilot > How to unfreeze an ATPL (Airline Transport Pilot Licence)?
How to unfreeze an ATPL (Airline Transport Pilot Licence)?
Pilot Career - Becoming a Pilot
Saturday, 12 July 2014 13:41

The Great Airline Pilot Shortage Myth (Part I)

Hello Captain,

After getting a frozen ATPL, where can a pilot accumulate 1500 flying hours and how long will it take approximately to unfreeze the licence?


Hi Jafar,

I will answer your question by elaborating a little on some basic information for the rest of the readers or aspiring pilots.

Basic Information

A student from a flying school will normally graduate with a CPL (Commercial Pilot Licence) and IR (Instrumental Rating) (CPL+IR). This Licence is known as the Frozen ATPL.

If a pilot is issued with only a CPL without the IR, he can fly under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) which means he is not permitted to fly in clouds (bad weather) and only navigate visually by looking out of the plane.

With an Instrumental Rating (IR), it allows him to fly in clouds and navigate with the assistance of the aircraft’s flight instruments.

Most flying schools will train their cadets up to Instrumental Rating and theoretically, up to Frozen ATPL level.

Frozen ATPL

A Frozen ATPL holder refers to somebody who has passed all the required theoretical exams but does not qualify him to be issued with a full ATPL until he has logged a total of 1500 hours.


A basic CPL will not be unfrozen unless the following are met:-

The minimum flying experience required for grant of an ATPL (Airplanes) is 1500 hours. You must satisfy the following minimum requirements as well (depends on your country).

How can you build up the 1500 hours?

If you are with an airline, then that is not a problem because you can normally fly up to 1000 hours a year. So you can easily achieve this target within one and a half years.

If you are not with an airline, (example working as a Flight Instructor in a Flying Club or Flying Academy, with an Air Charter Company or General Aviation) then it may take a longer time to build up your hours.

For more details, you have to visit the Department of Civil Aviation in your country, fill up a special Form which spells out the detailed requirements of unfreezing your Frozen ATPL.

The Great Airline Pilot Shortage Myth (Part II)


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Sim Time?
Hi, following on from the clear discription above; do you know how much (if any) of the 1500 hours may be accrued through the use of synthetic training devices (flight simulators)?

Many thanks,

James , 19 Aug, 2014
frozen atpl
Hello guys
Thank you for this interesting topic.
I my self have question and I'll be more than happy if anyone can help me.
I have 1260 hours on Boeing 737-200 and I have 200 hours on piston engine when I did my initial training
I am almost achieving the 1500 to unfreeze my ATPL. I have enough night flying and cross country and so on
Only problem is with section 3 of flight experience above . How can I get the 250 hours as pilot in command ? I am an first officer even though I am flying the plane but still can't log my bourse as pic !
I have 119 hours when I did my training but still not enough !
Any idea ? Please reply to my email could you ? This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ,
Happy landings.
Oscar-Mike , 26 Aug, 2014
Hello Sir,If let say I am having PPL licence and I fly until I gain hours which is around 1500 and more than that,Can I apply for ATPL licence in any Flying school ?
Is there any possibility to become ATPL holder after my PPL without CPL/IR licence !
SHARRAN , 20 Mar, 2016

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