The Modular ATPL Route

Student in Aircraft studying via the Modular ATPL Training Route

If you’re wanting to become an airline pilot, you’ll need to study for your Airline Transport Pilots Licence (ATPL). There are two routes to gaining your ATPL licence, integrated where you study at one training organisation on a full-time basis, or the modular route, allowing you to complete your training step-by-step at your own pace.

In this guide, we outline what you’ll need to do at each stage of training, as well as some of the benefits of pursuing your ATPL via a modular ATPL training route.


Starting the Modular ATPL Training Route…

Medical Certificate

Before starting your ATPL training, we strongly recommend you go to an aeromedical examiner (AME) to obtain a Class 1 Medical certificate (A Class 2 if you are only planning on training for a PPL). This is to ensure that you are medically fit to pilot an aircraft and have no underlying health conditions that may prevent you from becoming a commercial pilot.

You will need a Class 1 Medical certificate to start your practical training and it is an important step as, without a medical certificate, your licence will not be valid.

For more information, read our blog about Class 1 Medical certificates and assessments.


Private Pilots Licence (PPL)

Gaining your PPL is the first step on the modular ATPL route as this is a prerequisite for starting your ATPL theory. In order to gain your PPL, you will need to log 45 hours of flight training consisting of 25 hours of dual instruction and 10 hours of solo time, including 5 hours of solo cross-country time. You will also need to pass the 9 theory exams before attempting the PPL skills test.

To study for your exams, you could consider training with Bristol Groundschool, using our PPL theory training course. Our course is delivered using computer-based training material and contains guided lessons on each of the 9 PPL subjects plus an in-built testing system designed to reflect the questions you’ll see in your exam.

Our PPL theory course can be installed on PC, Mac or iPad, meaning you can study at a time and place that suits you – without having to purchase additional books. Click here to find out more about our PPL theory training course.

After you have completed your PPL theory and logged enough flight hours, you’ll be able to take a skills test with an examiner to demonstrate you are competent enough to fly as a pilot in command. Once you pass this, you are able to apply for your private pilots’ licence with your aviation authority.


Modular ATPL Theory and Flight Training

Modular ATPL Theory

At this stage in your training, you will need to start studying for the 13 ATPL exams that make up the theory portion of your training. You can do this by enrolling on an ATPL theory course with a training provider such as Bristol Groundschool

The 13 ATPL theory subjects are divided into three modules, after you have completed each module you can attempt the exams associated with the module you are studying.

Bristol Groundschool offers the option to study your ATPL theory through distance learning, meaning you can learn the course 100% online and sit your exams with your local EASA or UK CAA exam venue. Our distance learning course includes access to our computer-based training software, ATPdigital, which contains engaging lessons for each subject and exam-style quizzes.

As part of your ground school training, you will need to complete a total of 650 hours of learning, 65 of which, must be of live tuition. Students are required to attend a revision course prior to attempting the exams, all courses are delivered online, and select courses are run in the classroom.

Ready to start your ATPL theory training? Take a look at our ATPL(A) course here.


Hours Building/Night Rating/Upset Prevention Recovery Training (UPRT)

Hours building is one of the best parts of training to become a pilot. You can fly at a school or club of your choice, building hours to develop your confidence and refine your pilot skills. Prior to starting your commercial training, you will need to log 100 hours as pilot in command and 50 hours cross country.

Night Rating can also be completed during the hour building phase of your training. As the name suggests, a Night Rating allows a pilot to fly at night with an understanding of visual flight rules. The training includes at least 5 hours of flight time at night and theory, but there is no associated exam.

Upset Prevention Recovery Training (UPRT) is designed to give you the skills to prevent and deal with upsets and unusual circumstances, such as stalls and spins. UPRT training includes flight training and theoretical knowledge.

You can do your hours building, night rating and UPRT during your ATPL theory studies or after. One of the benefits of modular ATPL training is the ability to train flexibly, by completing different stages of your training at a time that suits you.


After your ATPL Training…

Multi-Engine Instrument Rating (ME-IR) and Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL)

A Multi-Engine Instrument Rating allows you to fly an aircraft with sole reference to the instruments. This is an essential part of the modular ATPL training route as this is similar to how airline pilots fly aircraft.

A Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) allows you to operate an aircraft for remuneration. You can decide to do this before or after your Multi-Engine instrument rating.


Before you Apply for Airline Pilot Jobs…

Airline Pilot Standards Multi-Crew Cooperation (APS MCC)

APS MCC This course will teach you the skills required to operate in a multi-crew environment. Until now all of your flying has been single-pilot operations. This qualification is required to apply for multi-crew airline jobs.


Download our Free Ebook: The Essential ATPL Student Guide to Studying and Passing your Exams

Starting your ATPL theory soon?

Check out our new ebook on how to study and pass your ATPL exams. Discover what you’ll need to know about ATPL theory including:

  • What each ATPL exam includes
  • What to expect from each ATPL subject
  • Choosing the right ground school for you
  • How to study your ATPL theory
  • Note-taking techniques
  • Tips leading up to exam day