MPL vs ATPL: What are They and How Do They Differ?


The world of aviation can be confusing, with different certifications and licenses required for different roles. Two commonly used terms in the aviation industry are MPL and ATPL. But what are they, and how do they differ?

In this article, we will explore the differences between MPL and ATPL, the benefits of each, and which certification may be best suited for certain career paths.

MPL vs ATPL: What are they?

MPL (Multi-Crew Pilot License)

The MPL, or Multi-Crew Pilot License, is a relatively new certification that was first introduced by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in 2006. This certification was designed to bridge the gap between traditional flight training and airline operations.

The MPL focuses on training pilots for the specific needs of airline operations, including multi-crew coordination, advanced automation, and airline standard operating procedures. Pilots with an MPL are trained to work effectively in a multi-crew environment, with an emphasis on communication, teamwork, and leadership.

ATPL (Airline Transport Pilot License)

The ATPL, or Airline Transport Pilot License, is a traditional certification that has been in use for many years. This certification is required for pilots who wish to fly for airlines and other commercial operations.

The ATPL is a more general certification that covers a wider range of aviation topics, including flight planning, navigation, and aircraft systems. Pilots with an ATPL are trained to operate aircraft in a wide range of situations, including adverse weather conditions and emergency situations.

MPL vs ATPL: What are the differences?

Training Focus

The main difference between MPL and ATPL is the training focus. The MPL is designed specifically for airline operations, while the ATPL covers a wider range of aviation topics.

Flight Experience

To obtain an MPL, pilots must complete a minimum of 240 hours of flight training, with at least 70 hours completed in a simulator. In contrast, pilots with an ATPL must complete a minimum of 1,500 hours of flight time, with at least 500 hours completed in multi-engine aircraft.

License Restrictions

Another key difference between MPL and ATPL is the license restrictions. Pilots with an MPL are restricted to flying specific aircraft types and are not able to act as captain until they have completed a certain number of flight hours. Pilots with an ATPL, on the other hand, have no such restrictions and can fly any aircraft that their certification allows them to.

Career Paths

The career paths for pilots with an MPL and ATPL can also differ. Pilots with an MPL are often trained specifically for airline operations and may have fewer career options outside of this field. Pilots with an ATPL, on the other hand, have a wider range of career options, including commercial airlines, corporate aviation, and military aviation.

Which certification is right for you?

Deciding which certification to pursue can depend on your career goals and personal preferences. If you are interested in a career specifically in airline operations, an MPL may be the best option for you. If you want to keep your career options open and have a wider range of opportunities, an ATPL may be a better choice.


Q: Can I switch from an MPL to an ATPL?

Yes, you can switch from an MPL to an ATPL with additional training and flight hours.

Q: Can I fly as a captain with an MPL?

Yes, but you will need to complete a certain number of flight hours as a co-pilot first.

Q: Are MPL and ATPL recognized globally

Yes, both MPL and ATPL are recognized globally, but the specific requirements and regulations may vary depending on the country or region.

Q: Which certification is more expensive?

The cost of obtaining either certification can vary widely depending on factors such as location, training program, and type of aircraft used for training. Generally, however, an ATPL is considered more expensive due to the higher number of flight hours required.

Q: Is an MPL recognized by all airlines?

While the MPL is recognized by many airlines, some may still prefer pilots with an ATPL due to the wider range of training and experience.

Q: Can I get a job as a commercial pilot with an MPL?

Yes, many airlines and other commercial operations hire pilots with an MPL.


In conclusion, the choice between MPL and ATPL depends on a variety of factors, including career goals, personal preferences, and financial resources. Both certifications have their benefits and drawbacks, and it’s important to carefully consider all of the factors before making a decision.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in aviation, whether as a pilot or in another role, it’s important to do your research and understand the different certifications and requirements. With the right training and experience, you can build a successful career in the aviation industry.

Remember, whether you choose an MPL or an ATPL, the most important thing is to always prioritize safety and professionalism in all aspects of your work.

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