The cockpit of a Part 121 airline is still the dream of many pilots. However, following the Colgan Airlines accident in 2009, Congress passed a law requiring all airline pilots hold an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate. That certificate requires a minimum of 1,500 flight hours and 23 years of age.
A trio of universities, the University of North Dakota, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Eastern Kentucky University, now are all eligible to designate graduates of their respective programs as candidates for the 1,000-hour restricted ATP certificate at 21 years of age.
Prior to the rule change, first officers were required to have only a commercial pilot certificate, which requires a minimum of 250 hours of flight time.