L3Harris Flight Academy

How to become a pilot in the USA

Becoming a pilot with L3Harris Flight Academy is an investment in your future. We have the facilities and training expertise at our central Florida Academy to prepare our cadets for an exciting and rewarding career as a commercial airline pilot.

As a world leader in aviation training, L3Harris Flight Academy is dedicated to helping our graduates build flight hours, preparing tomorrow’s pilots for a role with one of the 11 airlines we work with across the US.

How to become a pilot in the USA with L3Harris Flight Academy at a glance:

  • You will need a Commercial Pilot License & 1,500 flying hours to earn your Airline Transport Pilot Certificate to fly for an airline
  • It takes an average of 10-22.5 months to complete your flight school training - depending on the program you choose - before going on to obtain your 1,500 flying hours
  • You will undertake an FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) approved pilot training courses, and programs Nationally Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Our Professional Pilot Program (PPP) is our pilot training program that guarantees graduates an interview with us to become an L3Harris Flight Instructor & build the necessary flying hours to apply for a role as First Officer
  • Our Airline Pilot Track (APT) can be the most direct route to becoming a pilot. The Flight Instructor Certificate with Instrument Rating (CFI-I) means on graduation you will be guaranteed an interview to become a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) with L3Harris in Sanford
  • Our Commercial Pilot Track (CPT) helps cadets who want to pursue a career as a commercial pilot but are not interested in becoming a Flight Instructor
  • You will need passion, self-discipline, technical aptitude, problem-solving skills, teamwork, spatial awareness, and the ability to make decisions under pressure to become a successful pilot

The steps below outline a cadet pilot’s typical progression through our Professional Pilot Program which prepares students whose goal is to work for an airline.

Programs and courses

Get in touch today and start your journey!

Do you have any questions about starting your pilot training journey at L3Harris Flight Academy? Please send us a message and an Admissions Officer will be happy to assist.


Stage 1: Research pilot schools and training programs

As part of a world-leading, global aviation business, our cadets have access to the latest training technologies and systems.

Our Florida Flight School is well equipped with over 100 aircraft and five Flight Training Devices, but aside from our facilities, we have a reputation in the industry for having friendly, approachable staff who provide outstanding training.

We hold regular events across the country and online which we recommend you attend to meet the team and get a feel for life at L3Harris Flight Academy.

Book a Discovery Flight

Stage 2: Check if meet the entry criteria & have the common skills required to become a pilot

To start your journey to become a pilot in the USA, prospective cadets need to meet entry criteria relating to age, medical and selection. Please visit each of our pilot training programs and courses for full entry criteria.

Qualifications needed to become a pilot

Stage 3: Application and selection

Once you are ready to apply you can either submit the short application form on the website to register your interest in a program, or complete the full application form online. We charge an application fee of $150.

Once your application has been screened by our admissions team you will be invited to complete a Wonderlic assessment. You must meet or exceed the minimum score requirement.

How to apply

Stage 4: Preparation

Once through selection, it will be time to move into your accommodation and begin your course or program. Our Student Services Team can assist with orientation, housing, transportation, and student affairs. We also coordinate extra-curricular activities to help you and your fellow student cadets have fun and get to know one another.

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Stage 5-8: Commence your pilot training

Stage 5: Earn your Private Pilot Certificate

You will study for your Private Pilot Certificate at ground school within the Academic Building of our Florida Flight Academy as well as learning to fly a single-engine airplane. Once this phase is completed you will receive your Private Pilot License (PPL).

Stage 6: Earn an Instrument Rating Certificate

Achieving your Instrument Rating (IR) extends the privileges of your PPL and allows you to fly according to Instrument Flight Rules (IFR). Obtaining your IR will build your confidence in flying under different conditions as you will learn to reference instruments in the flight deck and navigate via electronic signals.

Stage 7: Earn a Commercial Pilot Single-Engine Certificate

This module will provide you with commercial pilot privileges in single-engine aircraft. Ground school will include pre-flight preparation and procedures and your flight training will cover FAA regulations such as radio communications, air traffic control, and commercial operations.

Stage 8: Earn a Commercial Multi-Engine Add-on Rating (PPP/CPT only)

The Multi-Engine Rating is the next necessary step for any professional pilot who wishes to fly for an airline. The module will focus on aircraft control, performance, and multi-engine operations.

Programs and courses

Stage 9: Obtain your Certified Flight Instructor Certificate

Pilots must have a minimum of 1500 hours of flight time before they can apply to passenger airlines in the United States. For this reason, we include the Certified Flight Instructor Certificate in our Professional Pilot Program and offer all our graduates an interview to become a Flight Instructor. Teaching others is a great way to embed your own learning as well as building up valuable flight hours.

In our APT program, the Flight Instructor Certificate with Instrument Rating (CFI-I) means on graduation you will be guaranteed an interview to become a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) with L3Harris in Sanford.

Professional Pilot Program

Stage 10: Gain flight experience and earn your 1500 flying hours

Once you have successfully obtained your Certified Flight Instructor Certificate, you can build up the required 1500 flight hours to obtain your Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate - the highest level of aircraft pilot certificate.

With an ATP certificate, you unlock your potential to go on to fly for regional and major airlines as a First Officer and Captain.

Our airline relationships

Get in touch today and start your journey!

Do you have any questions about starting your pilot training journey at L3Harris Flight Academy? Please send us a message and an Admissions Officer will be happy to assist.

What pilot jobs are available when I graduate?

Most applicants who wish to become a pilot in the USA aspire to fly for a commercial airline. Our pilot training programs and courses are all designed to prepare you for a role as a First Officer on a passenger aircraft. It is important to note the FAA states that all graduate pilots must build at least 1,500 flying hours before applying to work for an airline.

At L3Harris Flight Academy, we help you achieve your ultimate career goal by offering all our graduates an interview to become a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) – one of the best ways of building flight hours.

We also invite representatives from airlines to visit the campus and interview our cadets and Flight Instructors, providing valuable opportunities to secure your future pilot career.

Your career prospects and CFI opportunities
  • 100% funding available to 
    those who qualify
  • 11 affiliate airline 
  • 96% graduates stay with us 
    to build flight hours
  • 100+ single and multi-engine 

How much does it cost to become a pilot in the USA?

When deciding to become a commercial airline pilot, one of the most frequently asked questions is ‘how much does it cost to become a pilot?’. And it’s no surprise as to why. Your pilot license cost is a significant investment and financial commitment.

The exact cost to become a pilot will differ depending on the route you take and the organization you opt for.

I wanted to make flying the career for me, which led me to make this 10,000-mile journey halfway across the world to pursue the Professional Pilot Program at L3Harris Flight Academy.

Academy Testimonial Sharonjeet Dhillon Sharonjeet Dhillon L3Harris graduate
See all our pilot success stories

How to become a pilot FAQs

How long does it take to become a pilot?

How long it takes to become a commercial pilot is dependent on the pilot training program you choose to complete.

How much can I expect to earn as a pilot?

As a commercial airline pilot, you can expect to receive a salary above the average. However, your actual salary will differ depending on whether you fly for a major or regional airline.

Newly qualified pilots typically start out at a regional airline. Regional airline pilots are typically paid less than those at major airlines.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2020 Report, the percentile wage estimates for airline pilots, First Officers, and Flight Engineers are as follows:




50% (median)

Annual wage




What would my day look like as a pilot?

As a commercial airline pilot working from a regional or major airline you can expect to work weekdays, evenings, weekends, and holidays.

You will be responsible for:

  • Performing pre-and-post-flight aircraft inspections
  • Planning and selecting safe flight routes with First Officers
  • Identifying and problem-solving risks that may occur
  • Keeping accurate records for compliance reasons
  • Communicating with air traffic control regarding the flight plan, air traffic, weather and other external factors which may impact the flight
  • Monitoring aircraft engines, fuel levels, and aircraft systems
  • Flying the aircraft using visual flight rules and instruments

Have L3Harris Flight Academy secured any employment opportunities for graduates in 2021?

Yes. In fact, our Placement teams found 40 graduates in the USA employment opportunities in 2021, joining a selection of our 11 regional airline pilot pathways.

These employment opportunities, alongside increasing demand for international travel, are both really strong signs that the aviation industry is recovering and also allow us to look to the future with renewed energy.

How to become a pilot in the USA

Our Flight Academy is equipped to start your career as a pilot, whether you’re just leaving school or later in life. L3Harris help people reach their dreams.

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