Real Answers from Real Pilots

1000 Restricted ATP Worthwhile?

Hey there I’m Ben,

Currently an active duty Drone Pilot in the USMC, Stationed in Yuma AZ.

I have my PPL and about 270Hrs Total Time.

Getting out of the Military in March 2021 hoping to get to the Airlines as fast as I can!

I am looking at going to a part 141 school with a 60 credit R-ATP option of 1000hours once I get out. I plan on using the GI Bill to finance my training. (SDCC-San Diego Christian College)

I already have a B.S. in Math from Northeastern University but my goal is to get to the airlines and I think the R-ATP option could help out a lot and it would be a good use of the GI-Bill. I know that you need to complete your instrument and commercial ratings with the school in order to qualify for the R-ATP so I’m planning on waiting until I’m enrolled to do my checkrides with them even thou I have most of the required PIC and XC time knocked out already.

I’ll be 30 by the time I separate and hopefully I can get those 60 credits and the ratings I need to qualify for the R-ATP knocked out in less than 2 years. My goal is to start working at a major by age 35. I had a few questions about the R-ATPs

Does the R-ATP of 1000 hours look worse to employers than the standard 1500hr ATP or do they not particularly care as long as you are qualified to work?

I figure the R-ATP will be worthwhile for me since I have the GI-Bill and the school I’m looking at going to in San Diego pays for everything (Tuition, flight training, book stipend) AND pays for housing at around $2,600/month.

I feel like that is a better option than using the GI Bill at a vocational school (part 61) which only pays around $14,000/year. Granted I could probably get trained up and get my ratings faster at a part 61. I feel like the quality of the instruction and structure at a part 141 school is better, mixed with the 500 fewer hours and more money from the GI-Bill makes the Part 141 option more attractive. Especially since it may be good to wait a bit longer for the industry to recover given the COVID-19 situation.

I also saw that there was a 750Hr Total Time R-ATP option for former military members. I assume that is only for completing a Manned aviation training program but does anyone know if they show any love to drone guys in regards to qualifying for that rating?

Does anyone think that chasing an R-ATP is a waste of time and I should just try to get my CPL and get to work at a time building job as fast as possible?

The main reason I want to take the R-ATP route is to avoid debt and utilize the GI-Bill as best I can since I can’t transfer it to anyone else anyways.

Thanks for the help.



The good news is there’s absolutely nothing wrong with an R-ATP. The bad news is to get the hour reduction, per FAR 61.160 the training MUST be completed as part of an Aviation Bachelor degree program. Simply have a BA won’t help even if it’s an Aviation degree. The reg is quite clear training must be part of the degree program. Further drone hours (even military) don’t count at all.

If I were you I’d look at get your training and not worry so much about the hour reduction. Unless you want another 4yr degree?



What’s your .mil I can email you about some info I have.

I am in a similar situation but, I’m not Wing side.


A few things here. I would not focus so much on the 1,000 hours versus the 1,500 hours. Yes, it is a 500 hour difference, but the two years it will take you in training with SDCC is significantly longer than it will take with ATP’s nine month program. Those 15 months are months when you could be building flight time and getting paid to do so, not paying to be in school. The R-ATP route will most likely take you longer because of how long the education will take.

I do feel that your time would be best spend finishing your flight training as quickly as possible and then moving onto building hours.

As to the GI Bill, those are valid reasons and I cannot delve into what makes the best sense for you in y9our situation.

I will also add this, you gave yourself three years to go from newly minted CFI to being a major airline pilot. That is not going to happen. It will most likely take you a year or more to build your flight time for the regionals, then I would expect to be at a regional for at least five years, if not more.

I only know a handful of people to make it through the regionals in less than two years, they all were fortunate enough to have excellent timing and considerable family connections to the airlines. I would think a more realistic goal is to shoot for being at a major by the age of 40.


Hey Guys,

Thank you for getting back to me so quickly, I figured the drone time would be mostly useless but wishful thinking had me hoping for a different answer haha.

Dang I didn’t realize that it takes that long to get to the Majors from the regionals. How long does it take to get hired at some of the mid majors like Alaska, Southwest, Jetblue, etc, coming from the regionals? Is 35 a realistic goal to get hired on at one of those?

Does ATP flight school take the GI Bill or offer any discounts to Veterans? How long would the school take for someone like me coming in with a PPL and around 300 hours?


Sorry I’m new to this forum couldn’t figure out a way to DM you. work email

If it doesn’t get through the NIPR then my personal email is

As for the R-ATP it does sound like a good way to save a year or at least 6 months off of a time building job. Although the time to get the CFI rating may be longer and getting another 4 year degree doesn’t sound super appealing but at least it would be paid for.

Does ATP offer any kind of cadet program where you are more or less guaranteed a job at a regional after graduation. I saw that some flight schools have programs like that with regional airlines but I wonder if those will be hard to come by with the current COVID climate in the industry.

Thank you all for the help. Any Additional information would be greatly appreciated as well.



I will say, the drone time sounds rather interesting. I have flown with a few drone pilots that went to the regionals and then came to the majors, they always seem to have pretty interesting stories.

Alaska, and Southwest are very much considered to be top level majors. Alaska has a devoted following with people that want to live in Alaska or Seattle and Southwest is one of the top performing airlines with excellent pay and benefits, so the time to there is probably the same as to a United or American. JetBlue might be a little easier to get to, but I would still plan on several years at a regional to get there as well. I stand by 40 as a good age goal for any of those, but nobody has a crystal ball.

ATP is a part 61 school and is thus not able to take GI Bill benefits. The time frame from entering with a PPL will be six months, make sure you are current and not just on paper.

ATP does offer several cadet programs, the one they work most closely with is Envoy, y9ou can read about that here:

Let us know how else we can help you.


1 Like

Hi, my son is trying to decide between possibly attending a Collegiate residential program or ATP. I am understanding that one of the main advantages of a residential Collegiate program is their ability to offer the restricted ATP license (R-ATP) upon graduation and that an airline could honor that once the prospective pilot reaches 1,000 flight hours. My question is from everyone’s experience and interchanges with other pilots and prospective Pilots, will his chances of actually getting hired by a regional airline with only 1000 hours be good or is that more of a very rare type scenario seeing as he would have 500 Less hours than most other prospective pilot candidates who don’t hold the R-ATP?


The Regionals need pilots who satisfy their requirements and that means the ability to obtain an ATP (or R-ATP). So based on that your son should be fine. The 2 caveats I have are the following:

  1. No back up. I and many others are not huge fans of aviation degrees. The airlines neither desire or require them and they offer no backup if aviation should not work out. While you can be a pilot with an accounting degree, you can’t be an accountant with an aviation degree.

  2. Getting hired by a Regional is easy, getting through newhire training is not. While the Regionals have lowered their standards to facilitate more hiring, they’ve also suffered much hire failure rates. While those 500hrs saved may get your son to the door that much quicker, that’s also 500hrs less experience he’ll have. The airlines start all newhires at the same point expecting the same level of proficiency. If your son isn’t there he could suffer.



If your son has a good track record and interviews well, his chances of being hired by a regional are the same regardless if he qualifies under the 1,000 rule or the 1,500 hour rule.

The issues I see are what Adam pointed out, plus the fact that while 500 hours less flight time sounds enticing, it usually takes so much longer going through those programs than it does to just build the extra 500 hours. So while it sounds great, it really does not offer any great advantage.


Great to know, guys. Thanks for the input. Tough to pick a backup plan because he is so focused on aviation but definitely something to strongly consider. I know building hours as a CFI is dependent on many factors (weather, plane availability, # of student pilots you are training, etc.), just wondering from folks out there, what is a reasonable # of CFI hours the average person can expect to accrue/week? Per month? Per year? Thanks again.

You’re spot on with the fact that CFI hours vary greatly depending on a lot of factors. Just for simplicity, I’d say on average with 2-3 students an instructor can fly about 15-20 hours a week which ends up being about 60-80 hours a month. With that amount of flying, most CFIs can accomplish the remaining hours to 1500 in a year to a year and a half.


That obviously depends most heavily on the school your son teaches at. While Hannah’s numbers are correct, she’s referring to ATP, the largest and busiest flight school in the country. I know CFIs working at local flight schools who are lucky if they build 20-30hrs a month.



From a current instructor at ATP (now I don’t consider myself average, I’ve been blessed with picking flights up), for the last 3 months I have averaged almost 90 hours each month. Obviously with the winter months that are coming into effect, training will be limited in the northeast (I don’t know if Florida or any of those southern territories get affected as bad).

If I remain on target at this time with no factors of weather etc., I could be at my ATP minimums in around 8.5 months; that would be a nice birthday gift… That is maintaining an average of about 90 hours a month, again…weather…plane availability, etc. I think one thing that hasn’t been spoken is how hard is your son wants to work, Federal Regulations say no more than 8 hours of instruction for a 24 hour period of time. It is common for CFIs to get burnt out (thankfully I have not, I love what I get to do nearing 400 hours of dual instruction and 7 checkride sign offs).


1 Like

Thank you all for your responses.