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Old 02-05-2006, 10:55 PM   #1  
Atrain77
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Default Graduating College in December, Looking at ATP...

Hi everybody! I'm new to to the forums and it looks like there is a surplus of knowledge lurking around the boards. I'm hoping somebody can help point me in the right direction.

I'm 20 years old and in December I'll graduate with a B.S. in Management. Studying management for four years knowing that I just want to fly was extremely difficult. But in the long run it was the best thing I could've done. I've retained a lot of info that will help me outside of aviation. But in December I need to go to flight school.

I've looked into Delta Connection, RAA, ATP and even visited Pan Am in Phoenix last spring. Right now I'm leaning towards ATP because they offer multi-engine training, a reasonable price and a good reputation. I saw a thread posted a few months ago which skimmed the surface on ATP but I'm looking for more. Is there anybody who went to ATP who knows what it's really like and knows if the advertisements accurately represent the school? Will you actually be hired by ATP to instruct or are most graduates forced to find work elsewhere? For those who didn't go to ATP, are there better options out there? Is the multi-engine training at ATP worth it?

As a newbie to the aviation industry and these forums, I look forward to hearing what everybody has to say. Thank you very much!
 
Old 02-06-2006, 08:30 AM   #2  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Atrain77
Hi everybody! I'm new to to the forums and it looks like there is a surplus of knowledge lurking around the boards. I'm hoping somebody can help point me in the right direction.

I'm 20 years old and in December I'll graduate with a B.S. in Management. Studying management for four years knowing that I just want to fly was extremely difficult. But in the long run it was the best thing I could've done. I've retained a lot of info that will help me outside of aviation. But in December I need to go to flight school.

I've looked into Delta Connection, RAA, ATP and even visited Pan Am in Phoenix last spring. Right now I'm leaning towards ATP because they offer multi-engine training, a reasonable price and a good reputation. I saw a thread posted a few months ago which skimmed the surface on ATP but I'm looking for more. Is there anybody who went to ATP who knows what it's really like and knows if the advertisements accurately represent the school? Will you actually be hired by ATP to instruct or are most graduates forced to find work elsewhere? For those who didn't go to ATP, are there better options out there? Is the multi-engine training at ATP worth it?

As a newbie to the aviation industry and these forums, I look forward to hearing what everybody has to say. Thank you very much!
My Standard Disclaimer: The proven, accepted, and most reliable means of getting into the aviation industry is to get all your ratings (including CFI, CFII, MEI) and teach until you can qualify for a cargo or regional job. The experience gainined on this route is applicable to all segments of aviation and all regional/commuter airlines. You will really learn the fundamentals by teaching them, meet all kinds of people (networking!), and develop your leadership and judgement in a real-world aviation environment. With that being said...

Congrats on your degree, that will only help you. Most of the Big-Name flight schools and "Academy Programs" charge WAY too much for what they offer. Most anyone who offers "value-added" in entry-level flight training is full of sh*t. Typical "value added" items: Advanced (turbine) aircraft training, airline operations training, airline "connections", most "guaranteed interview" programs, new aircraft, top-notch maintenance, etc. You really don't need to pay for this stuff, because your airline will teach you when you get hired.

The hard reality is that there are very few shortcuts out there, and airlines pretty much look only at your flight times, especially at the regional level. At the major level, they look at other factors, such as masters degrees, but never do they care much about what college or what flight school you graduated from (unless it was Harvard, Annapolis, etc)

So, the point is to understand very carefully A) what are you paying for B) how much are you paying, and C) how will it help you.
You need to pay for these things: PPL, Inst rating, CPL, ME rating, CFI, CFII, MEI. Anything else they want you pay for, you really need to look hard at C)

Some big schools like to brag about their shiny new aircraft and great maintenance programs...Well, the FAA requires ALL aircraft to have specific regular maintenance. That means ALL flight schools, FBO's, and clubs have to apply the same standards. If someone trys to sell you on something that you were going to get anyway, you have to wonder about their level of integrity. Most flight training salesman are folks who got kicked out of the used car salesmen union for ethics violations! Talk to students and CFI's when you visit a school. Don't EVER sign up for anything without visiting the facility.

The first thing I would recommend would be to find your local FBO's and flight schools and go ask around, try to get a feel for what the cost of the training would be. This will be bare-bones no-frills training, and should be your baseline. Maybe you can live at home while you train. Anything that costs more than that, you should ask yourself WHY it costs more.

From what I know of ATP, they do offer a fairly standard program without a lot of bells and whistles (though you can buy these if you want $$$). I think they emphasize ME time, which can be good. What you really need to find out is what your odds are of getting a job there after you get your ratings. It's always nice to be able to get a CFI job at the school where you did your training, however there always CFI jobs to be had on a walk-in basis. Or you can hang at at the FBO and work as an independent CFI.

Now there are operations that have "shortcut" programs that will supposedly get you on with a regional with 400 hours or less...most of these will guarantee you an interview...well that's ALL you get, is a nice interview (unless you have an affirmative action ticket). They will usually tell you to go CFI and come back when you have a 1000+ hours. There are a VERY few such programs that actually have a high success rate at getting low-time pilots hired at airlines, but that's a whole diffeent topic...
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Old 02-06-2006, 10:58 AM   #3  
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Thanks for your reply. It's funny you bring up ethical issues in these flight schools and affirmative action in the hiring process. I'm currently taking a class on controversial issues in management. The term paper I'm writing deals with the ethical issues in these flight schools and affirmative action has been a big topic of discussion in class. But anyway...

I understand your stance on the schools that offer way too many bells and whistles. What is a 200 hour pilot going to do with a type rating in an MD80? That is a huge reason I look at ATP. They DO offer some of these programs but the main program is primarily focused on the basic training and especially mutli-engine training.

I would consider staying and completing all of the licenses and ratings at my local FBO if not for my current situation. I currently have 25 hours logged, I've got another solo cross country and a few night flights until I've met the requirements for the private license. The problem is that I don't see the quality of instruction that I saw at Pan Am. Being a part 61 training center may have something do with this. I know that I will get a lot of on-the-job knowledge by flying cargo or instructing for a couple years but it seems like a solid foundation would be very important. I also see a lot of my colleagues falling by the wayside by staying at home to train. They find a girlfriend, their grandpa dies or their family starts up a business and needs help. All of a sudden they throw their aspirations away. Has anybody encountered anything like this? I'm thinking it would be smart to tell everybody..."I'm moving 2,000 miles across the country to become a pilot, don't bug me. I'm trying to concentrate." Haha, obviously it's easier with the support of family and friends but there are too many things to dissuade you from achieving your goal.

Rickair, I appreciate what you have to say. Hearing from you and other posts on this site, I think it's best for a young pilot to fly cargo or instruct for a few years and not set his or her sites on that jet job with 400 hours. The ladies would think it's a lot cooler but in the long run the experience would be much more rewarding. As for the FBO route, mine isn't going to cut it. I think I'll look into some others in the Northwest to see if there are some quality schools that offer reasonable rates. I'm still going to look into ATP some more as well. After all, I do have about a year to decide You don't hear too many airline pilot testimonials who went to FBO's but I'm sure they're out there. Did anybody out there have a really good experience with an FBO???
 
Old 02-06-2006, 08:11 PM   #4  
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Hey I will be finish with college in the summer, and im thinking about going to
http://www.atpflightschool.com/ in los angeles but first im going to take the Private Pilot Courses to make sure that I really, really enjoy flying and want to become a airline pilot

This was recommended by a member on this board, spend 4,000 to become a private pilot first, then if you really like it, then spend 30-60 thousands to become a airline pilot
 
Old 02-07-2006, 06:09 AM   #5  
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Atrain,

I went to a small flight school just outside of Wichita quite a few years ago now, but they provided excellent training at very reasonable prices. Like you, I had my PPL before finishing the rest of my training there. There's no guarantee of employment or an airline job, but I was offered a CFI position and got my first airline job through a recommendaton from a guy I flew with there. www.prairieairservice.com Check it out and if you have any questions let me know. If your single and serious about a career as a pilot, don't limit yourself geographically and it will be easier(not easy) to advance your career. Good Luck.
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Old 02-07-2006, 10:12 AM   #6  
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"As for the FBO route, mine isn't going to cut it. I think I'll look into some others in the Northwest to see if there are some quality schools that offer reasonable rates"

Where are you at now?
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Old 02-07-2006, 02:47 PM   #7  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rickair7777
My Standard Disclaimer: The proven, accepted, and most reliable means of getting into the aviation industry is to get all your ratings (including CFI, CFII, MEI) and teach until you can qualify for a cargo or regional job. The experience gainined on this route is applicable to all segments of aviation and all regional/commuter airlines. You will really learn the fundamentals by teaching them, meet all kinds of people (networking!), and develop your leadership and judgement in a real-world aviation environment...
I strongly agree with this. This method is time proven, the airlines understand it, and they know what type of candidate they will probably get.

You can save four months flight instruction or so (about 300 hours flight time) by doing the Airline Transition Course and CRJ type with Regional Airline Academy. The CRJ type is done at CAE in Denver through a contract with RAA. And don't think you can go direct to CAE. They will just send you to RAA. RAA has the sim time locked up. However, the Chief Pilot at CAE is a senior captain with AWAC, as is all of the sim instructors he uses. The type becomes a 4 week job interview. Do well and you are a very strong candidate for being hired. This is why so many RAA grads are going to AWAC.

But it will only save you four months or so and cost ???? thousands. Is that worth it? Maybe not. Most regionals will hire you with 1000/100. Being a CFI at a large academy will usually mean 70-90 flight hours per month (I averaged 92 hours for eight months).

Another cost savings is to get all your certificates and ratings at a small FBO, being very cost focused. You can then enter one of the large academies and just do your CFI, CFII, and MEI...or maybe just your CFII and MEI. The school will still probably give you preferred hiring as an instructor because you completed one of their programs.

Do your CFII and MEI together in a multi-engine airplane. When you complete your Comm/Multi you will need 15 hours PIC in the multi before you can get your MEI. While you're boring holes in the sky for it, do your CFII training in the multi. Cost:

Old method:
10 hours CFII training in single at $120/hr - $1200 (a/c and instructor)
10 hours time building in multi at $170/hr - $1700 (a/c and safety pilot)
5 hours MEI training in multi at $170/hr - $ 850 (a/c and instructor)
Total $3750
(plus exam fees, etc.)

Combined
10 hours CFII training in multi at $170 - $1700
5 hours MEI training in multi at $170 - $ 850
Total $2550
(As a comm/me pilot you are qual'd in cat and class and can log the time as PIC)

Do not believe the part 141 programs that promise your certs and ratings in 190 or 220 hours. Most pilots can't complete the programs in those times to the proficiency level required. So plan on 250 hours TT to your commercial. However, at about 225 hrs TT start your ME training. At 240 hrs TT go back to the single to sharpen your commercial skills and then take the comm checkride right at 250 or 251 hrs. Then go back to the multi for an hour or two and add the rating. Don't spend all 250 hours in the single, because a lot of the time is just wasted boring holes and building time.
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Old 02-07-2006, 03:00 PM   #8  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Atrain77
...I've looked into Delta Connection, RAA, ATP and even visited Pan Am in Phoenix last spring. Right now I'm leaning towards ATP because they offer multi-engine training, a reasonable price and a good reputation. I saw a thread posted a few months ago which skimmed the surface on ATP but I'm looking for more. Is there anybody who went to ATP who knows what it's really like and knows if the advertisements accurately represent the school?...
I have one problem with ATP. Their "15" day instructor program does a very poor job preparing you to be a CFI. Talk with DCA, RAA, Pan Am and ask them how long their instructor programs are. Ask ATP where they send their candidates to do their CFI checkrides. Is it with the local FSDO or some DPE located out of the area? Will they even let you take the checkride with an FAA inspector at the FSDO? What's their pass rate? Most regional airline mins are some total time and 100 multi. Anything more doesn't really help. And I've seen guys get hired with less.
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Old 02-08-2006, 06:54 PM   #9  
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I beg your pardon, Most of our students at DCA DO finish within 10% of quoted numbers. I am an example of this. Zero time to CFII in about 10 months and 200 hours. I say MOST so please don't start throwing rocks at me for other reasons. I have known my share of students that either don't devote the time needed to their studies or properly prepare for upcoming lessons. The old adage applies to ANY program you start ANYWHERE, be it DCA/RAA/ATP/FSI or XYZ. You only get out of the experience what you put into it. Sure I could have spent less probably, but some people do better in a very regimented program like what I went thru. We had a saying in the military, shut up and color. I know what my job was a student, I kept my head down, bucked down and cracked the books. I tell my students I want at least 8hrs out of their days devoted to SOMETHING having to do with flying. (example: Ground school, flying, Gleim, Homework, FAR/AIM, Backseating other flights, Mock Oral exams, Memorizing emergency procedures, reading AC's, Poking around a plane in MX)
Hardwork ALWAYS pays off in time and dollars at the end of the day.
A good attitude is essential too.



Quote:
Originally Posted by WEACLRS
Do not believe the part 141 programs that promise your certs and ratings in 190 or 220 hours. Most pilots can't complete the programs in those times to the proficiency level required. So plan on 250 hours TT to your commercial. However, at about 225 hrs TT start your ME training. At 240 hrs TT go back to the single to sharpen your commercial skills and then take the comm checkride right at 250 or 251 hrs. Then go back to the multi for an hour or two and add the rating. Don't spend all 250 hours in the single, because a lot of the time is just wasted boring holes and building time.
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Old 02-08-2006, 07:26 PM   #10  
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Originally Posted by jagboy69
I beg your pardon, Most of our students at DCA DO finish within 10% of quoted numbers. I am an example of this. Zero time to CFII in about 10 months and 200 hours. I say MOST so please don't start throwing rocks at me for other reasons...
I won't. But I do respectfully disagree. I also spent time at DCA. Program completion in less than 220 hours was not the norm. It sounds like you are the exception. I was in a position to hire well over 100 flight instructors at my academy over several years. Very few had less than 270 hours TT.
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