Advice for students in the ATP private and instrument stage

Hi all, I passed my CFI initial on Nov 4 and my CFII 2 days ago (Nov 24). For those of you who have more than the bare minimum number of hours that the program gives (Came in credit private or you’ve been flying for fun on the side), I have some advice for you. BANK SOME OF YOUR CREW HOURS FOR USE IN CFI AND CFII.

The crew stage is necessary to provide someone starting with zero time with enough cross country PIC hours to qualify for a commercial license. Crew is low stress and enjoyable. But I suggest you bank whatever hours you don’t NEED to qualify for a Commercial license and use them in later stages of the program.

In CFI academy you only get 6 hours of flights. Trust me, more is better. In CFII you only get 4 hours. Trust me, you need more.

For those of you who don’t have extra hours and need to fly crew in full, you either need to be really on your game during CFI and CFII or plan to spend extra money on additional flight time.



Rock on…

I’ll be starting up December 16th, credit PPL. I have a knack for catching on really quick if I’m actually “doing” the task (kinesthetic learner). Silly question, though. How do you save up, or bank the extra hours? Do you just have the option to not fly a certain amount to save up, or is this something you have to coordinate with management?

For reference, Ill be at the IWA center, so plane availability should not be an issue.

It all depends on if you meet the FAR requirements and are proficient at them. For my PPL I saved about 6 hours since my instructor and I felt confident in my abilities so we just didn’t use them, then when I got to comm, I just emailed flight ops to add my leftovers to this phase

While I appreciate Andy’s advice, please understand its based on Andy’s experience. If you have the opportunity to bank some hours I suppose that’s ok but I’d prefer ALL of you go with the first part of his statement and be “really on your game” as a plan for success vs the latter of “plan to spend extra money on additional flight time”.


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I’m not sure how many hours you currently have, or will have when you come in, but the magic numbers are 169 Hrs. Total time, and 69 Hrs. Of PIC time. Once you have that time after finishing Instrument/crew phases, that will give you enough time (flight & sims) to finish the Commercial phase with the required 250 hours total time for the Commercial License.

So, let’s say you finish instrument training with 159 total hours and 59 PIC. Technically, you’d only need 10 more hours to reach the 169/69; therefore you could do 10 of the allotted Crew hours (if memory serves me right you start with about 32 total hours allotted to crew), then Opt out of the remaining crew time and request that the rest of the remaining time be re-allocated to another phase. You would speak to Flight Ops about that.

Make sense?

Do keep in mind it’s not a strict 1-for-1 conversion, for instance, if you move extra hours into your commercial phase (which is what I did), it’s at a 2-for1 ratio; I.e., 10 remaining crews hours would convert to 5 commercial phase hours.

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You are allocated a fixed number of hours to complete your instrument rating. If you fly less than these hours you can carry them forward and if you fly more you can either pay for them or use less hours at some future part of the program.

During crew you are allocated a fixed number of hours. Since there’s no checkride for crew, you are done when you fly the allocated hours. If you flew more instrument hours than were allocated, flight ops will likely shorten your crew hours to “pay” for that if you have sufficient PIC cross country hours to make it through Commercial.

My advice to you (since you are credit private and hopefully have more hours than the typical ATP student with a private pilot certificate) is to contact flight ops after you get your instrument rating and request to shorten crew and use those hours later in the program. Discuss this with your ATP CFI too.


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I came in with a ton of hours and completely skipped crew, instead opting to transfer those hours to commercial. As a result I did a number of interesting cross countries (including a 7+ hour round trip to the Bay Area and back to socal) and had a lot more hours to use for commercial maneuver training. I believe I still have a few hours left so it’s good to hear that I can use them during CFI training as well.