Five things you need to know about ‘unfreezing’ your Airline Transport Pilot Licence

Five things you need to know about ‘unfreezing’ your Airline Transport Pilot Licence

Embarking on the journey to unfreeze your Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL) is a pivotal step in your aviation career, but navigating the process can seem daunting. Fear not! In this guide, Aileron will demystify the unfreezing process, detailing the crucial steps and shedding light on why unlocking your ATPL is essential for your professional advancement. Let's dive in!

Cadet pilots typically graduate from flight training with ATPL Theoretical Knowledge exam passes, a Commercial Pilot Licence with Multi Engine Instrument Rating (CPL/MEIR) and a Multi-Crew Co-operation and Jet Orientation Certificate (MCC/JOC).

Combined, this is known as a ‘frozen’ Airline Transport Pilot Licence (fATPL).

1. Understanding the Concept of a 'Frozen' ATPL

The term 'frozen' ATPL refers to a licensing status where pilots possess the necessary qualifications but lack the requisite flight hours to obtain a full-fledged ATPL. Despite this limitation, cadet pilots can still secure employment opportunities as Airline Pilots, thanks to European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) regulations that allow airlines to consider applications for Second and First Officer positions based on various factors including training records and industry demands.

how to unfreeze your ATPL


​2. An EASA ATPL ‘unfreezes’ once you have successfully flown and logged 1500 hours.

​This means you will be issued with a full Airline Transport Pilot Licence by the authorities. This in turn opens up career progression opportunities and options for a professional Pilot.

3. The regulator must see paper evidence of your hours.

Unfreeze your ATPL

Central to the unfreezing process is the meticulous documentation of flight hours. Pilots are required to maintain a Professional Pilot Log Book where all flight activities are recorded accurately and comprehensively. These documented hours serve as tangible evidence of a pilot's experience and proficiency, crucial for regulatory compliance and certification. These hours must be recorded by you in your Professional Pilot Log Book, correctly logged and signed.

Aileron logbooks offer pilots the perfect solution for meticulously recording flight hours required to unfreeze their Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL). With a user-friendly layout and dedicated sections for various types of flight time, including multi-pilot operations, Pilot In Command (PIC) hours, cross-country flights, instrument time, and night flying, Aileron logbooks ensure compliance with regulatory criteria.

4. Criteria for Unfreezing: A Detailed Breakdown

Unfreezing an ATPL entails meeting specific criteria set forth by EASA. The 1500 flight hours must encompass various categories, including but not limited to:

  • 500 hours in multi-pilot operations on aircraft.
  • 500 hours as Pilot In Command (PIC) under supervision OR 250 hours as PIC OR 250 hours as PIC under supervision, including at least 70 hours as PIC
  • 200 hours of cross-country flight time, of which at least 100 hours should be as PIC OR as PIC under supervision
  • 75 hours of instrument time, of which not more than 30 hours can be instrument ground time
  • 100 hours of night flying as PIC or co-pilot.

​Adhering to these criteria ensures that pilots possess a well-rounded skill set and experience base, essential for safe and efficient flight operations.

5. The same applies for Multi-Crew Pilot Licence (MPL) holders

​Those who have trained on a Multi-Crew Pilot Licence course (often linked to an Airline, such as easyJet, Qatar or Virgin Atlantic) are also able to apply to be issued with a full ATPL once they have reached 1500 hours, in an identical way to fATPL holder.

Have you logged your hours correctly?


For pilots embarking on the journey to unfreeze their ATPL, access to comprehensive resources and guidance is paramount. Aileron offers a downloadable guide on Unfreezing Your ATPL, available on our website. This guide provides valuable insights, tips, and practical advice to ensure pilots navigate the unfreezing process seamlessly.

We've created a FREE downloadable guide which outlines all the hour requirements before taking your Licence Proficiency Check.



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