ATPL Integrated and CPL Modular flight training are two ways of reaching the same target – to become a commercial pilot. The two paths have not been designed to confuse you but rather give you freedom of choice after carefully evaluating your own needs. Below we have broken down the key differences between the two methods to help you make an informed decision.
What is ATPL Integrated?
ATPL Integrated is a pilot training program, a part of Ab Initio school (which stands for “from the beginning”) that gets you prepared for flying commercially. Those who have zero or little aviation experience can apply for training and finish it in about 24 months.
The keyword is “24 months” – it’s immediately graspable that studying must be intense because two years does not sound as much time for mastering a demanding pilot profession. However, it is feasible to achieve by undertaking uninterrupted learning under ATPL Integrated. As a reward, you get an opportunity to find yourself in the cockpit of a commercial airliner in the shortest time possible.
What is CPL Modular?
Same as ATPL Integrated, CPL Modular belongs to Ab Initio pilot training and is available to those who have no or little prior experience in operating an aircraft. As the word “Modular” hints, the program consists of modules and, thus, provides you flexibility in planning your time and finances.
For instance, it is allowed to take breaks between the modules. This way, you can take time to raise funds or take on other responsibilities. Furthermore, the financial part is easier manageable as you can pay in installments but not the whole sum upfront, unlike ATPL Integrated. Moreover, if you are not a complete “newbie,” you can join the program without repeatedly studying the familiar modules. For instance, imagine you have a valid PPL that you acquired as a standalone lincence. In this case, you would skip the PPL module when doing your CPL Modular.
On the other hand, flexibility might cost you time. On average, this training course lasts approximately 2.5 – 3 years, or even longer.
What Licence Will I Hold?
Once you finish your studies and pass all of the examinations, you attain a CPL or otherwise called an „ATPL Frozen“ licence. Although it might seem logical to attribute an ATPL licence to the ATPL Integrated program and a CPL licence to CPL Modular, this way of thinking is wrong.
CPL translates as „Commercial Pilot Licence“ and is granted to everyone who successfully completes initial training regardless of the path they have taken to get there. It is also sometimes called an „ATPL Frozen“ („Airline Transport Pilot Licence Frozen“). The idea behind this is that during both CPL Modular and ATPL Integrated, students cover “ATPL” theory, which gets “frozen” until pilots achieve a target number of hours.
They can still apply for jobs and work as flying pilots with their frozen ATPL, but full ATPL will become valid once they log the required hours. Usually, this number is 1500 flying hours. Once they do, they can start serving as Pilots-in-Command (PIC) or Captains of an aircraft exceeding 5700 Kg in weight.
How do I choose?
Suppose you are confident in your ability to absorb ATPL theory material without first doing PPL theory or any basic flying and are interested in saving time. In that case, you can consider the Integrated program. However, if a more gradual approach answers your needs better, don’t rush and opt for completing the modules step by step. One of the advantages of CPL Modular is that you will get more flight practice (+46.5 flight hours on single-engine and multi-engine aircraft) than during ATPL Integrated training. However, as you must have realized, both programs result in the issue of the same CPL licence so it is primarily a matter of preference.
But getting the CPL ( „ATPL Frozen“) is not enough. Before you can fly as a First Officer, you have to undertake Type Rating for a specific aircraft type, e.g., Boeing 737, Airbus A320, etc. Type Rating is available for both CPL and full ATPL licence holders.