A few newbie questions

First, I want to thank all the people on here providing answers for this journey. It is very reassuring to have a forum to search through FAQs and to have space to ask questions.

Our story, my son(19) approached us about going to ATP school. He has flown but not in a discovery flight so we are going to get him up in the air hopefully next week. He has been interested in planes for most of his teen life. He has educated himself on aircraft history, learned about military plans, and taken an overall interest in aviation. Out of highschool, we didn’t offer college due to finances & his lack of direction. We told him to take some time to decide what he really wanted to do and we would go from there. He chose to get hired on with our local airport and now works on the ground for AA, as I think a line tech. He helps move the planes, fuels, luggage and those kinds of things. He likes it a lot, even in this south MS heat in summer! He is more motivated now than ever to be a pilot and is wanting to pursue this career path. However, before we commit to him, we are wanting him to commit fully to this/us in this endeavor.

  1. I see that it is highly suggested to take writtens prior to entry. My question is, do you need to be enrolled in ATP or a flight school in order to take writtens? I *think you can study and take practice tests to see how you will do prior to actually taking these tests. Am I correct on that? I think having him study and pass these tests is one piece to deciding if we would cosign.

  2. What is the pass/fail rate for the school itself? No doubt it is a difficult program as it should be with taking lives into your hands.

  3. What is the success rate for the students once they complete the program? I know they need to log more hours with instructor hours or a like path. But are they successful at eventually getting hired with regional lines? I am assuming with shortages the answer is yes but wanted to hear about the reality of the journey.

Thanks so much for taking the time!


First I want to point out that ATP requires students to either have 2yrs of college (or comparable work experience), military experience or their Private Pilot license. If they don’t exceptions are made on a case by case basis but he will need to get cleared by admissions. On to your questions:

  1. Anyone can take any of the FAA Knowledge exams, however you need an endorsement from an instructor. All of the courseware providers will provide the endorsement of you can show them 3 practice exams with scores above 90.

  2. The pass/fail rates vary but my understanding is on average its about 80%. Keep in mind the program is highly accelerated, taking what usually takes years and condescending it into months. It requires a tremendous amount of work and discipline to be successful.

  3. To fly for an airline a pilot must have 1500hrs and yes instructing is the most common route. Right now the world is experiencing an unprecedented pilot shortage. While there are no guarantees, I can tell you IF you son does well in training, builds his time and has a clean record, he will get hired.


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As Adam has mentioned, the prerequisites should be met for enrollment at ATP - granted there may be an exemption, but you’d have to contact admin to see if applicable:

  1. Written tests can be completed at any time; HOWEVER, they are only VALID for 2 years after taking them, so it is important to not take them too early. At ATP if you enroll and start taking them, you will not touch the 2-year timeframe since the program is 7-months long. Like Adam mentioned, you must an endorsement for the following test: PAR, IRA and CAX. This thread posting about taking the AKT breaks down which tests, which ones require endorsements and things to know going into a written test: Preparing for Your Airman Knowledge Test - Frequently Asked Questions - Airline Pilot Life

  2. Back in June of this year, I believe ATP’s success rate of checkrides was 84%, and it was rising. I’m sure we can get an exact number, but do know ATP is one of the, if not most successful aviation training schools out there. Earlier this month in FLYING Magazine, ATP was ranked #1: Top Flight Schools Revealed - FLYING Magazine

  3. Here is the actual regulation that will pertain to your son if he attends ATP for flight training, it is listed under 14 CFR Part 61.159 which breaks down the required hours. Most regional airlines will accept new hires at 1,475 since you can use 25 hours of full motion simulator training towards your 1,500.

Please let us know if there is anything else we didn’t answer, welcome to the forum :slight_smile:


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Thanks so much Adam & Brady for answering my questions.

I certainly misunderstood on the entry requirements. He has been working with AA for a little while now - I honestly couldn’t tell you exactly how long but it’s a little less than a year. Does that experience count as “equivalent work experience” or am I completely off there?


It might but you’d really have to speak with ATP admin to be certain.


Also keep in mind, they do consider other students that don’t have the work experience, AA degree or a private. The lady I done my intro flight with was only 18 at the time! She went at straight from high school to flight school!


Pass rates and program completion rates are complicated.

I don’t believe ATP publishes a full program success rate but do publish a checkride pass rate as Brady mentioned.

In FlyingMag the 2020 checkride pass rate across all flight schools was about 77% (note, this only is checkride success rates and doesn’t calculate those who left training prior to a checkride)

I really like this 2016 BoldMethod article that discusses the pitfalls / obstacles students can have and how to overcome them. ATPs structure helps overcome a lot of the issues listed in the article and really only leaves an individual students drive as the biggest factor.

All the best,
Chris F

Thanks again everyone for taking time to answer my questions. I really appreciate your information, resources given, and clarity!