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View Full Version : ATP vs small school


mlb8251
01-06-2019, 11:16 AM
Hello. I'm 28, and looking to get into aviation. I'm trying to decide between going to ATP or a small school. ATP sounds like it really gets you ready for the airlines. I've heard it's similar to an airline training program, and very fast paced. ATP is very expensive though, and taking such a large loan can severely limit your life. Your job prospects are still very limited when you graduate the program as well, since you don't have many hours.

PS. I have some college credits, but didn't finish my degree. I guess I can finish online. Would it be hard getting a job with an airline without a degree?


TKOwnedU5
01-06-2019, 11:27 AM
Small school. ATP is nice considering how fast you can get all your ratings but your in $80-100k in debt. Small schools will save you thousands of dollars but at a cost of time. Your 28 so your not old but your not young either.


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AKBushRat
01-06-2019, 01:39 PM
Donít do it! Those guys rush you through your ratings and a lot of people end up failing checkrides. Find a small school with a non-time building instructor and you can still finish quickly. I know a great school. I finished in 18 months and spent half what ATP charges.


SonicFlyer
01-06-2019, 03:49 PM
ATP is good if you are in a hurry to get through, and if you can't get financing anywhere else. But yes, they will force you to take checkrides when you are not ready. And they suck to work for, damn near abusive to their CFIs.

Cheese7
01-08-2019, 09:37 AM
I was in your shoes 2 years ago.

Are you geographically mobile? Do you work currently? How will you be paying? Do you have $80k to blow, or are funds limited? They sound limited since you mention worrying about taking out a huge loan. If that's the case, ATP might not be right for you. They are pretty big on selling you that loan. They called me daily for weeks trying to sell me on the financing. On the other hand, if you don't have any money to spend or any income, then your only option would be to get a job that generates enough money to cash flow your ratings, or take out a loan to pay for them (this will require collateral or a co-signer with collateral).

Do you want an experienced instructor who actually wants to be an instructor, or an hour-builder who is regurgitating what was taught to them 6 months prior?

As far as job prospects when you graduate, you are correct, there are few options for people with 275 hours. Most go on to flight instruct to build hours to get to 1500. Some instruct with ATP; some instruct at other schools (ATP doesn't pay their instructors much).

If you're on a budget, small Part 61 school in a small town, 100%. In most cases, you can get done just as fast as ATP, maybe faster. Some ATP locations are in areas with long DPE backlogs, so you may be waiting for checkrides for a while.

You also have much more control over your instructor with a local Part 61 school than a big box school like ATP. I've spoken with a few ATP instructors, and it seems that most of them are there to get their hours for the airlines and move on. They don't really want to be an instructor, they really just want the hours. Nothing terribly wrong with this, everybody has to get their hours some way, and instructing is an efficient way to do it. But if you're looking for high quality instruction from an instructor who really wants to be an instructor, I think you've got a better shot of getting this somewhere other than ATP.

My advice would be to fly with several instructors at schools in your local area to get a feel for different instructors and their instructional style. If an instructor is not working out for you, move on to the next. You might have to filter through a few mediocre instructors to find a really good one.

As far as your degree goes, you don't need a degree to get hired by a regional airline, but will likely need one to go further. It's always a great thing to have a degree to make you more job marketable if/when you get furloughed or lose your medical and flying ability. A lot of people are going the online degree route these days. You've got plenty of time before you'll need a degree. If you want to go the airline route, I'd focus on passing checkrides, logging hours, and learning everything you can about IFR flying.

ATP is really great at marketing. It's easy to see why people new in the industry get blinded by the ATP lights, but there are many great alternatives out there, they just don't have their companies plastered all over the internet.

Whichever way you go, best of luck to you!!

Moe96
01-08-2019, 10:38 AM
You can still get your ratings quickly at a small school. Anyone who says so otherwise has no idea what they are talking about. It’s all about how much time and effort you can put in daily.

Cheese7
01-09-2019, 11:28 AM
You can still get your ratings quickly at a small school. Anyone who says so otherwise has no idea what they are talking about. Itís all about how much time and effort you can put in daily.

Agree 100%. A conversation with your instructor should be had as to the speed with which you want to get your ratings. Your instructor will know if they can keep that pace or not. If they can't, they should let you know and pass you off to another instructor. If they can, they'll let you know, and then it's on you to do the work to keep up.

Even ATP is mostly self study (from what I hear), so it's really on you as to how fast you can go.

HawkeyeVan
01-13-2019, 02:49 PM
I have put two sons through flight schools. ATP sucks, in my opinion, because they lack standardization. Where he was at, their check ride preparation was horrible. He had started originally in Wisconsin, but his instructor bailed out to Brickyard. My other son went to Flight Safety, and that was a useless colonoscopy, until I sent him to a school across the street that was more professional and somewhat cheaper. I would recommend the smaller programs.
My disclaimer is that I was Navy trained, and only have about 250 hours of light airplane time in a total 18,000+ hours. Never the less, I am not enthralled with FLAP (**********g Light Airplane Pilot) community. But, we have to make the best of what is there.

galleycafe
01-13-2019, 03:00 PM
I envy your briefs. Both verbal and undie.

Plane Coffee

PegasusPuppy
01-14-2019, 04:43 PM
See title.

UberPilot
01-16-2019, 10:25 PM
I loved my time at ATP. I was motivated and finished the whole program from zero time in just under 8 months. I went to MMU in New Jersey.

12 months from the day I started I landed a job as a FO for a cargo company.

I was switching careers. 29 when I started. I didnít want to wait around.

msmarchin
01-17-2019, 05:11 AM
I loved my time at ATP. I was motivated and finished the whole program from zero time in just under 8 months. I went to MMU in New Jersey.

12 months from the day I started I landed a job as a FO for a cargo company.

I was switching careers. 29 when I started. I didnít want to wait around.

I feel like this part is making ATP seem like the only viable option for me. I am kinda in the same boat: almost 28, so not old but not young either. Did you start ATP with zero time?

galleycafe
01-17-2019, 06:34 AM
ATP is fine if you realize one thing. They're not going to hold your hand one bit. It's all self study and very high pace. If you can't keep up, you're not going to get extra help.

If you're not ready for the checkride, get some extra dual. They're going to charge you. It won't be cheap. What's the cost near term and long term of a busted checkride? That's up to you.

Be the PIC of your training. Don't let ATP bully you. Saddle up. Come prepared. Don't be a little [email protected]#h.

Good luck. We're all counting on you.

Plane Coffee

GoJuice
01-17-2019, 06:55 AM
I'm in a similar situation, 26 and really looking at getting in to the industry. My original plan was to attend ATP until i found out how much it was going to cost me. I just couldn't stomach the thought of spending 90K and having $700+ monthly payments. Do you due diligence in researching every local small school. I've noticed within the last year or so, a few of them have started securing financing for training. One in my area just got on with a financing partner which i'm planning on utilizing. Just have to wait a few months to save up the money for the bills while i'm training. If this is really what you want to do, don't settle. Do what you have to do to make it happen.

chronomaster31
01-17-2019, 09:16 AM
The only reason to go to atp is if you need the funding. Speed and cost are both better in part 61 mom and pop assuming you're motivated (yes I'm aware atp is 61)

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dino87
01-23-2019, 11:53 AM
ATP is expensive and may not be any quicker.

Find a school that has a full time instructor, (or multiple full time instructors). If you have the money and are ready to go then they should be willing to fly with you every day or multiple times in a day. Ask their opinion for online ground courses and have him fill in the areas needed. Realistically, try to fly at least 3 times a week, more if you can. No reason you canít be finished with your Private in 2 months. Instrument in another 2 months. Build time over the next couple of months and have the Commercial completed in 4 Ė 6 months. Get your CFI and teach full time. Full time instructors can average 80 flight hours per month. Within 2 years you can be applying for a Regional Airline job.

Recommendation to save cost in the long run: buy a good used plane. After your training you can probably sell it for the same if not more than what you paid for it.

dino87
01-24-2019, 10:18 AM
https://flyblueridgeaviation.com/
Blue Ridge Aviation now offers a training program to make your dream a reality. Here are the specifics:

$45,000 covers the entire program; Private Pilot License through Multi-Engine Commercial and CFI (Flight Instructor)
All training materials and books are included
Pilot headset included
Average completion time is six months

Excargodog
01-24-2019, 12:20 PM
PS. I have some college credits, but didn't finish my degree. I guess I can finish online. Would it be hard getting a job with an airline without a degree?

A regional? No. Piece of cake. Get your ATP mins, avoid DUIs and speeding tickets and their recruiters will be on you like stink on.....

A lower tier major? You can do it but you’ll be at a slight disadvantage to those who have one. Even a two year degree would help though. Although some may prefer you without a four year degree since it rather dramatically decreases the likelihood of losing you to a top tier place that pays better.

A legacy or top tier major? Not impossible, maybe 3-4% of their pilots DON’T have degrees. That may change by the time you get the numbers to be otherwise competitive, but I doubt if it will change much.

You really have to ask yourself if you want to compete for ALL the legacy jobs, or maybe - at best - 10% of them.

It shouldn’t be a hard choice.

JayMahon
02-05-2019, 05:49 AM
https://flyblueridgeaviation.com/
Blue Ridge Aviation now offers a training program to make your dream a reality. Here are the specifics:

$45,000 covers the entire program; Private Pilot License through Multi-Engine Commercial and CFI (Flight Instructor)
All training materials and books are included
Pilot headset included
Average completion time is six months

Yeah, I've met the head cfi/owner of this school. Professional, solid pilot. That program can run as fast as you'd like it to. They have multiple CFIs, all with good experience.

Macchi30
02-05-2019, 02:22 PM
So i was in the exact same situation as you a year ago. I was seriously considering ATP. But, I ended up just staying at my local small school. My thoughts over the past year

Small school:
Pros

-I saved about $15,000
-guaranteed CFI job (with medical and dental benefits)
-small school vibe, they actually seem to care about my progression

Negatives:
-slow. What I could have done in 6-7 months at ATP took me a year
-Our fleet isnít as big as our demand for airplanes. So when an airplane goes into maintenance it messes up a lot of bookings

so I donít really know. Sometimes I wish I did ATP because I would have finished a lot sooner. But at the same time, my school has some students who had previously been at ATP and most have horror stories

msmarchin
03-26-2019, 07:43 AM
So i was in the exact same situation as you a year ago. I was seriously considering ATP. But, I ended up just staying at my local small school. My thoughts over the past year

Small school:
Pros

-I saved about $15,000
-guaranteed CFI job (with medical and dental benefits)
-small school vibe, they actually seem to care about my progression

Negatives:
-slow. What I could have done in 6-7 months at ATP took me a year
-Our fleet isn’t as big as our demand for airplanes. So when an airplane goes into maintenance it messes up a lot of bookings

so I don’t really know. Sometimes I wish I did ATP because I would have finished a lot sooner. But at the same time, my school has some students who had previously been at ATP and most have horror stories

I have ultimately decided against ATP as well. I found a local flying club to build time and a local flight school with an expanding 141 college program for after I get my CFI. The plane is simple, but it's IFR equipped and extremely economical.

In the end, I just could not justify paying ATP so much extra. Especially when I don't see much benefit to the extras (with the hiring situation as it currently stands...airline partnerships don't seem to be worth much). Plus I can keep working full-time and save some money.

Cheese7
03-27-2019, 01:28 PM
I have ultimately decided against ATP as well. I found a local flying club to build time and a local flight school with an expanding 141 college program for after I get my CFI. The plane is simple, but it's IFR equipped and extremely economical.

In the end, I just could not justify paying ATP so much extra. Especially when I don't see much benefit to the extras (with the hiring situation as it currently stands...airline partnerships don't seem to be worth much). Plus I can keep working full-time and save some money.

Glad you weren't blinded by the marketing hype. Now it's time to get to work!! I'm not sure if you are zero time or between private and instrument, but if you are just starting, I recommend the Sporty's Learn to Fly course (good on an iPad, also available on computer), the Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (free PDF on FAA website - I purchased a paper copy on Amazon) and the Airplane Flying Handbook (also a free PDF on FAA website, or paper on Amazon) Start chipping away. Good luck!

I also recommend these videos on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLdu8cMWoatm19rjgUl05Y8lSzlOUCTXp1

I little dry, but informative and free.

Cheese7
03-27-2019, 01:33 PM
msmarchin, sorry, just read your other posts and saw that you have 90 hours and a PPL. Disregard those PPL training reference suggestions. You probably know where to start with instrument stuff already (Instrument Flying Handbook, Instrument Procedures Handbook, AIM, Sporty's IFR video course is also good)

lordhux
04-01-2019, 09:26 AM
I loved my time at ATP. I was motivated and finished the whole program from zero time in just under 8 months. I went to MMU in New Jersey.

12 months from the day I started I landed a job as a FO for a cargo company.

I was switching careers. 29 when I started. I didnít want to wait around.

How was ATP vs American Flyers? I've a bit less negative about AF, did u find ATP to be nasty. Every time I'm on youtube, the ATP ad will appear, it's really annoying

lordhux
04-01-2019, 09:29 AM
A regional? No. Piece of cake. Get your ATP mins, avoid DUIs and speeding tickets and their recruiters will be on you like stink on.....

A lower tier major? You can do it but youíll be at a slight disadvantage to those who have one. Even a two year degree would help though. Although some may prefer you without a four year degree since it rather dramatically decreases the likelihood of losing you to a top tier place that pays better.

A legacy or top tier major? Not impossible, maybe 3-4% of their pilots DONíT have degrees. That may change by the time you get the numbers to be otherwise competitive, but I doubt if it will change much.

You really have to ask yourself if you want to compete for ALL the legacy jobs, or maybe - at best - 10% of them.

It shouldnít be a hard choice.

so it seems like people with advanced degree will be much easier to get promoted? I hope my over prised biz school would worth it



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