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Old 12-28-2016, 09:09 PM   #1
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Default Noob 0hr Wanting to become a Commercial Pilot


I am a 32 year old professional who is seriously wanted to change carriers and become a commercial pilot.

I have been doing a lot of research and have a couple of questions.

My background. I have a University Degree (BS,) am married to a supportive spouse, and have the $$ to pay for a training program without the need for loans.

I have been actively looking at Flight Safety Academy and APT flight school as they both offer 0 hour to Commercial Pilot intensive programs. I understand that these programs are intensive and expensive, but I am up for the challenge and able to pay cash.

That being said, what would be the recommended fastest route from 0 hour to commercial pilot if money was no object? I am looking for a program that would be intensive as also set me up with the best possible training, experience, and hours in order to get hired.

I am more then willing to temporarily move to anywhere in the US (world-wide?) to complete this program. The location of the program/school would not necessarily be a concern for me.

If at all possible, I am also looking for a program that does NOT require me to flight instruct in order to build additional hours.

Any suggestions, ideas, comments, or guidance would be sincerely appreciated.

I would sincerely appreciate hearing from individuals who have recently completed a 0 to Commercial Pilot program (or similar)in addition to individuals whom are carrier pilots.

Thanks in advance,
Guam, USA.
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Old 12-28-2016, 10:42 PM   #2
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Well, and then what?

Zero to Commercial is 250 hours at a minimum, most students take longer. Hiring minimums at airlines require an ATP which is 1,500 hours of flight time, at a minimum.

If you can self-fund 0 to 1,500 hours, you'd probably would be better off investing the $200,000 that would take to reach ATP rather than working for $30/hr. I'm sure you could find a spreadsheet to help calculate the opportunity cost.

It would be very unusual to find a (rewarding and sustainable) pilot job that would only require a Commercial license.
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Old 12-29-2016, 07:33 AM   #3
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I know little about FlightSafety Academy other than it is only one location: Vero Beach, Florida.

I have a little experience with ATP, so I can comment on that. ATP's program, while it includes the CFI certificates and offers a CFI job upon completion, neither is required. You can end your training at any time. Even if you choose to get your CFI certificates, you aren't required to teach at ATP.

There are time building programs out there. ATP has one, but good golly is it expensive. It would probably be cheaper to buy a light twin and do a lease-back to a flying club or FBO.

There are jobs to be had with a "wet" Commercial. Glider tow, aerial survey, hanging out at a busy FBO and offering yourself out to be a safety pilot. That last one probably won't put food on the table, but you can build hours. There are Part 135 operators that hire SICs with just a Commercial. Quest Diagnostics recently started an FO program and compensation is pretty good from what I've read, so competition is going to be heavy.
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Old 12-29-2016, 01:15 PM   #4
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@Awax, thanks for the message.

What alternatives are there to self funding up to 1,500 hours? Does everyone who would be in this situation just instruct?

Please correct me if I am wrong, but I assume that self-funding the hours after one gets a commercial includes just renting a plane and flying around to build hours? In a situation like that it sounds almost cheaper to buy a small plane, build up to 1,500 hours, and then sell it?

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Old 12-29-2016, 01:17 PM   #5
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Thanks for the reply. I believe that you were the individual that recently posted about stating at ATP?

Why did you choose ATP? Where there other schools that you considered?

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Old 12-29-2016, 05:07 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Nunavut View Post
I believe that you were the individual that recently posted about stating at ATP?
Yep, that was me.

Originally Posted by Nunavut View Post
Why did you choose ATP?
A number of reasons. I liked the pre-packaged nature of the program. You pay X amount of dollars, and you get Y amount of hours. Going the FBO route, you'll get a quote based on the minimum amount of time required for each rating or, sometimes, the average number of hours students require to attain each rating. I wanted to make sure I could secure financing for all of my training before I started, rather than run out of money part of the way through.

That's not saying FBOs are a bad place to get your ratings, its just that some are better than others. I got my PPL at an FBO and they were very well organized as far as having CFIs on staff, aircraft availability and scheduling, and maintenance. The other FBO on the field seemed to treat training as an afterthought.

I also liked the "guaranteed" CFI job. I put that in quotes because if you earn yourself a bad reputation as a student, you're not getting offered the job. Like you, I'm not too keen on being a CFI. The plan is as soon as I pass my Commercial check-ride, I'm applying just about everywhere I can. In aviation, always have a back-up plan, so having a clear pathway to a job (CFI) is a great thing. The training for the ratings alone will be nothing but a benefit as far as my piloting skills are concerned.

Originally Posted by Nunavut View Post
Where there other schools that you considered?
I'm from Albuquerque, so I looked local first. The FBO I went to has long since gone out of business. As a member of CAP, I have access to Kirtland AFB's Aero Club. Decent outfit, but the aircraft are very tired and I think only one aircraft as an IFR certified GPS. They also didn't have any twins.

Then there was Del Sol Aviation. Their fleet was only slightly less tired. They also didn't seem to put a lot of effort into thier website.

I've been interested in relocating to the Denver area anyway, so the "stars aligned" and here I am. Truth be told, if ATP had an ABQ location, I would have gone there. ATP seems committed to having a modern fleet.

Now, if you haven't done so already, find an FAA AME and get a First Class Medical Certificate. You'll want to find out now that you have some sort of disqualifying medical issue. I think you are still able to get a Student Pilot Certificate through an AME as well - you'll need it before your first solo.

With regards to training, there's nothing wrong with "Zero to Hero" programs. However, it's a good idea to get your PPL first, then consider a more extensive training program. This way, you can see if flying is truly for you.

No matter which route you take, make sure you have a refund policy in hand before committing anything if the school you choose has a pre-payment system. With ATP, for example, you (or your lender) pays for the program in four installments with the first installment due on the first day of training. You'll receive a pro-rated refund should you end your training before completion, subject to thier hourly rates for the aircraft, CFI, FTDs, and debriefings. They'll provide you a copy of thier rates.
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