Real Answers from Real Pilots

Atp cfi

I start at ATP Denver June 26th (credit private). I’m curious to know what percentage of students that start ATP actually get to the point where they instruct with ATP. I know not all want to instruct with ATP. More than 2 checkride failures essentially disqualifies a person. I know another post on this forum stated that ATP graduated 404 CFIs from 10/2015 - 9/2016. That seems extremely low considering they bring in roughly 100 students per month. Of the 404 only 239 took the CFI position and 207 actually made it to become a CFI. The “Guaranteed CFI job” seems to be a reach. So is it safe to say that 20 percent of students who start ATP actually end up becoming a CFI for ATP? My plan is to become a CFI with ATP. Anyone have more information on why this rate is so low?


Before instructors are allowed to instruct for ATP, they have to go through a standardization (a.k.a. “stands”) process. I think it’s 3 weeks long. Most people pass stands, but there are a few who don’t. So you see there was about a 86.6% pass rate at stands during that time period from Oct '15 to Sept '16 (207/239 = 0.866 x 100 = 86.6). I’m not sure where you got 20% from. There are some students who start ATP and choose not to go through the CFI program, but it’s a very small number. Most who go through the initial CFI program finish as MEIs. I know some who either quit in the middle or they got kicked out of the CFI program because they double busted the checkride, but most of the time those cases do not happen, Once the MEI is completed, the other two (CFI and CFII) checkrides follow after and are much easier than the MEI.

I think some people choose not to instruct at ATP because the pay is low, especially if you go to a location like Tampa where there are too many instructors and not enough students for instructors to build at least 100 hours per month. Here in Tampa, the average instructor has 3 students, which definitely does not put you in the $20/hr wage group. Even the most senior instructor here said the pay isn’t great. Another reason why most students choose to instruct elsewhere is because they prefer to be closer to their hometown.

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I noticed the thread and wanted to add some data for additional context.

Tampa currently has 38 students and 10 instructors. Students are at various stages of training, so some are in Crew Cross-Country and some are in CFI School in Jacksonville. About 3 students per instructor is accurate.

Average instructor flight time is at Tampa is currently 59 hours over the last 30 days. Times range from 37 to 77 hours, so there’s a lot of variation. Here’s a snapshot from an instructor page on our intranet showing flight time building over the last 2-week fee period. This allows instructors to see how they’re doing reaching the higher rate tiers.

So 4 of 10 instructors achieved the higher rate tiers.

Here’s some interesting info: We have 399 hours of single-engine flying and 293 hours of multi-engine flying due in the next 30 days for students to stay on schedule. That’s a total of 692 flight hours to deliver in 30 days by 10 instructors. Not to be Captain Obvious, but Tampa instructors should fly on average 69.2 flight hours each over the next 30 days to keep everyone on schedule. That’s a pretty solid number for an instructor and students who elect to take their weekends off. An above average and highly motivated instructor can easily hit the higher rate tiers.

Instructors who want a pay boost can enroll in Tuition Reimbursement with pretty much any regional and earn an extra $5 per flight hour.

We try to facilitate a careful balance between providing the instructor availability our students deserve, and providing the instructors the flight time they seek.

Erik, thanks for your post, and thank you for choosing ATP. Good luck on your upcoming Commercial check ride.

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I’ve added additional info below. We really do stand by our guaranteed CFI job claim.

The 100 students per month is misleading if you extrapolate it to prior periods. Average monthly enrollment in 2015 was about 45 students per month and in 2016 was about 65 students per month. An accurate comparison would be to look at those 404 relative to about 600 starts. 2/3 of our students start from zero time, and the other 1/3 start with a Private Pilot. Factoring-in rough washout rates of 20% and 10% respectively, that 600 results in 450 (vs 404), which is petty close considering the estimates. So 404 out of roughly 600 vs. 404 out of roughly 1200. Fortunately we’ve been ahead of this increasing our fleet to 299 aircraft (#300 and 301 come next month!)

While 2 checkride failures can be a disqualifier we are very realistic in how we apply that rule. For example, we often make an exception to not count the CFI Initial toward those 2 because the CFI Initial has very low first time pass rate, pretty much mandated by the FAA. It’s a tough check ride and they are very tough on their DPEs who can give it.

I hope this has alleviated your concern. Thanks for choosing ATP. Denver is a great location.



I appreciate you taking the time to explain this in detail. I now have a better understanding of the numbers and so forth. I’m looking forward to getting to Denver and starting my ATP Journey. I’ve been working on the modules and studying.


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I’m starting Denver in august! See you there!!!

Justin thanks for joining this thread. I have follow up question regarding instructing at ATP. Could you say what percentage of instructors are able to stay and work at the location at which they trained. This is a critical consideration for me as I consider ATP.

I cannot provide the specific percentage you’re looking for, but I can describe how our instructor staffing works.

We have a real-time algorithm that monitors student load, instructor staffing, aircraft allocation, checkride availability, and physical training center facilities. All of these factors influence the others in some way. For example, we are currently at the max class size in SAC thru October. This is driving additional instructor recruitment for SAC above and beyond what SAC has been able to produce in graduates. (Most grads want to return to their base training center.)

When starting CFI School, we offer applicants the choice to join ATP as an instructor after passing the initial CFI. At that time, we provide all our available assignments from which to chose. If willing to accept one, the applicant commences Instructor Standardization immediately after passing the CFI initial. Both SE and II add-ons are completed during standardization. After a final QA evaluation flight with an ATP standardization instructor, the new ATP CFI is off to his or her assigned training center.

The available assignments change daily. Even after accepting an assignment, we have an online instructor portal from which an applicant can change their assignment right up until the very last day of standardization. Even after standardization, this same portal facilitates transfers as soon as the assigned location becomes overstaffed.

Our objectives are to promote 1) high quality of training by providing students adequate instructor availability, while 2) offering our instructors as much flight time as possible while maintaining high-quality training without instructor burnout, and 3) fulfilling our obligation to students to have CFI jobs available to them after graduation.

Again, these change daily, but as of right now our available instructor assignments for inbound CFI School applicants are:

  • Houston (AXH)
  • Bowling Green
  • Charlotte
  • New York (ISP)
  • Atlanta (LZU)
  • Seattle (PAE)
  • Raleigh-Durham
  • Richmond
  • Sacramento
  • Tulsa

10-12 training centers available at any given time is the norm. They are always changing. You can “commit” to your desired location anytime it is available and you’re past instrument rating, and it will be reserved for you. If your desired location is not available, you can pick another with the intent to transfer upon it becoming available, but only upon your location becoming overstaffed.

I hope this sheds some light on the process without confusing everyone with too many details.

Thanks Justin for your reply. Am I correct in my reading that a student is able to lock in the location they will instruct at as soon as they have completed their instrument rating? For example, I would like to train and work at GTU (Austin area). If I were training at GTU and an instructor position came open during that training period would I be able to lock that position in as long as I had completed the IR? Could you say - generally - how hard it is to get an assignment at GTU? I know it is a smaller location.


Refer to Justin’s post. After passing your initial CFI you will be offered a position with ATP and at that time be able to chose from the list of available locations. If GTU is on it, or becomes available later you will be able to select it. It is impossible to predict now if that center will have availability at the time you are ready, but keep in mind that most students want to return to where they trained, so it tends to work out.


Hi Chris, Yes thats actually what I thought regarding the location but Justin stated what I have quoted below…

…I wondered if I was interpreting that correctly. It sounds like you can “lock in” where you will instruct anytime after your IR that the location in question opens up. Am I reading that wrong?

How often are one of the two Houston schools open?


Justin has explained this as thoroughly as possible, including how the process of filling vacancies works and that vacancies can change very rapidly.


I will research that one point and reach out to you tomorrow.