ATP vs. Local Part 61 Flight School

Hello all,

I apologize in advance if this question has already been asked and answered. I am new to the group and am trying to get an understanding of ATP vs local flight schools.

I have been a private pilot since 2012 and have recently decided that I want to make this into a career. I am working on my Instrument rating and commercial rating concurrently.

With the position I am in, would it make more sense to work and pay for schooling as I go at a local part 61 flight school, or go through ATPs curriculum? I really like the idea of immersion training, but $70K is a lot to swallow. From what I can tell, it is either you sacrifice time or money…and I am not sure which route is the best way to go. It sounds like there are a lot of avenues into the regionals by going through ATPs curriculum versus a local part 61 school.

My main concern is making sure I get the appropriate training in the most cost and time effective time. Any experience or suggestions with this would be much appreciated.



I respectfully disagree that it’s “either you sacrifice time or money”. $70k is ALOT of money but how much would it cost you to get your Commercial license (and the hour requirement), your IR, ME and all 3 CFIs? I’m sure you’re aware that flight training is never inexpensive and I have no doubt that maybe(?) you could possibly save a few dollars training locally but if you’re doing this based on the numbers you have to look at ALL the numbers.

How long did it take you to earn your PPL and how long have you been working on your CPL and IR? I recently met a pilot who trained locally and spent over $20k on his PPL. The hourly rate was cheap enough but the time spent re-learning skills over 2 years cost him a fortune. I don’t know how much time you’ve budgeted for to get to an airline but ATP could have you in the right seat of a jet in 2 years or less (depending on how much time you currently have). EVERY year you delay is one less year of potential earnings since pilots have a finite amount of time to fly. People say “well first few year the pays not so great” BUT that’s not where you’re losing the money. It’s those final years being a Capt at a Major making $300k+ that you’ll never see.

If you’ve made the decision to do this than waiting will only cost your money and seniority.


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I appreciate your honesty here! It took me about a year to get my PPL and I have been going off and on the past couple of years to get my CPL/IFR…so I understand what you’re getting at here.

Thanks for the feedback-much appreciated! Helps me better understand what path to take. I will be looking into a start date with ATP in the near future. This is what I want to do. You’re right…I shouldn’t be waiting to do so.



Regardless of how you get your flight time, there will be ways into the regionals. What matters is getting quality training, while doing it in an expeditious manner. I would argue that a local flight school could end up costing you just as much, if not more, over the long run as ATP because there are simply inherent inefficiencies in training with a small school. Look at your own experience, you have been going on and off for a few years and still have not finished your instrument and commercial, this simply does not happen with immersion training.