ATP vs.?

Hello aviators and mentors,

Joined up here to submit some questions and voice a few concerns. Also, please pardon me if I seem brash at any time, I’m just being honest.

This website is obviously endorsed to some extent by ATP considering the name is in the logo and all but a handful of questions are about receiving an education through ATP. With that being said, I don’t fully understand why I keep reading comments such as, “I am in no way trying to sell you on ATP, but…” by the mentors. I say lets call it what it is and that this website is a great recruitment tool for the school so therefore it’s an advertisement, and therefore we are being sold something. But why?

We all know ATP is not the only flight school that exists and building time with a regional carrier is not the only way to reach the majors, so why paint that picture? I would just like to create a non-biased conversation regarding flight training, flight schools, and reaching the airlines.

I spoke with an ATP graduate from JAX, who transferred from Emory-Riddle, and the first thing he said was don’t do it. The comment that resonated the most with me was “It’s like throwing dirt at a wall, only some of it will stick”. He continued to say the main purpose of the school is to just get your through your certifications, exams, and check rides with whatever is dubbed passing. Personally, 6 months does not seem like an adequate amount of time to fully comprehend and master the skills being taught, just pass. On that note, I spoke with a current ATP student at the JAX location and he was 4+ months into his training and wasn’t even half way towards the commercial 250. That student was also training in Los Angeles and was relocated to JAX due to availability. So, here are some questions regarding the above thoughts and others:

  • Do students truly complete all exams, check rides, and necessary hours within the 6-month period? Not what “can” be done, but what is practical to create a proficient pilot?
  • Can students be relocated to other airports based on aircraft or instructor demands? If so, is it common?
  • What ratio or number of pilots graduating from ATP pursue commercial aviation vs. private aviation?
  • Do you know the difficulty or likelihood of going from private aviation into the majors?
  • What ratio or number of US citizen pilots pursue aviation outside of the US, say Canada?
  • Any experience with students graduating and pursuing contract flying overseas, say Afghanistan?
  • On average, what percentage of students must retake their exams or re-do their check rides?
  • If the program goes beyond 6-months or additional instruction is needed beyond the 275 quoted hours, prior to CFI work, will they be billed accordingly?
  • Is there a proper vetting system for students to see if they have the aptitude or ability to learn and thrive in the program before pledging the money? Is there a back-out plan if things go wrong or minds change?

Circling back to my original thoughts, I know ATP works and I am in no way attempting to belittle it. The success of you gentlemen (the pilot mentors) are testimonies of that. But let’s talk about other programs…those that lie outside of the collegiate variety (e.g. University of N. Dakota, Texas A & M, Emory-Riddle, etc.).

For the record of anyone reading this, JetBlue (US) and EasyJet (EU) both have 2-year pilot programs that hover around the $135,000 range. Also Emirates Airways, while seldom, will select international students for their program, which by the way is 100% free, except for 5 years of garnished wages (so I suppose not free). Due to the cost and selective nature of those programs, they will not be the topic here. I want to discuss, in particular, Aviator College of Aeronautical Science and Technology. (click catalog at the top of the page to D/L the 119-page booklet)

I have not found any threads regarding this school, but I wanted to introduce it to the conversation. It is a 15-month program based in south Florida whereas one can obtain an associates degree while obtaining their commercial multi (degree is optional). Their ground school seems more like a college environment, therefore not necessarily a cram session. If any readers or mentors have any knowledge, experience, or concerns with the school please let me know. With that being said, pilot mentors, if you have any questions regarding the program, ask away because I am taking an official tour on July 28 (next Friday) and I can provide answers for yourselves and future readers. I did find your flight school questions and I plan to deploy them with admissions.

Again, at no point did I intend on sounding rude and I sincerely apologize if I did. For all I know this website could be run by ATP and I’m simply confusing it with or something. We all know the financial, mental, and physical demand such an endeavor as flight school carries, so I’d like to get it right the first time.

I look forward to any and all feedback, thoughts, comments, and discussion!


Hello Trav and welcome,

Before I attempt to address some of your questions I’d like to clear a few things up. This website is NOT “obviously endorsed to some extent by ATP”, it was created BY ATP and it is ATP’s website. As you pointed out the ATP logo is clearly displayed on top and ATP in no way is trying to hide that fact. Next, while I can’t speak for the other mentors, yes I frequently state “I’m not a salesman bla bla bla” simply because I’m not. I receive ZERO incentive in any way, shape or form to recruit anyone. I am a successful ATP graduate and I was asked if I’d like to participate in this forum. Many people helped me along the way and if I can continue the karma I think that’s a good thing. I honestly believe if it weren’t for ATP I wouldn’t be where I am today. I did my research and ATP is what I deemed the best for me. If you (or anyone else) decides there’s a better option vaya con dios my friend. That said while you apologize for being “brash” you’re obviously coming on here to disparage. You say this forum is an advertisement and you quote my “I’m not a salesman” but you make no mention of the fact that I often tell people ATP is NOT for them and they should look elsewhere. So I ask you “but why?”. Now I’m not sure your background but I’ve been at a Major for 5yrs and EVERY pilot I’ve ever flown with has either come from the military, a Regional or another Major. Is it possible to get to a Major without going to a Regional? I suppose, problem is I don’t know a single pilot who has. If you do please share BUT let’s call it what it is. Fact: the MAJORITY of pilots hired by the Majors are coming from the Regionals. The Majors like Regional pilots, they’ve been flying within the Major’s network for years and have demonstrated ability. The Regionals are hiring like crazy sooooo why would I advise anyone to attempt to be the one guy YOU know who got to a Major by flying charter, corporate or whatever vs the THOUSANDS hired by the Regionals. Again this forum is here to offer advice, not tell “by the way I know a guy” stories.

Moving on:

  1. Some do and some don’t. As I often say ATP was created BY airline pilots to train airline pilots. Unlike virtually every other flight school in the country you cannot simply get a single license or rating at ATP. It’s a complete program from start to finish. Let me again ask you a question? Is it practical to take a pilot who’s been flying a piston Cessna for 2yrs instructing etc and have him fly an A330 across the ocean with 2mos of training? When I started training I was given 6 manuals but only received 5 days of system training. Nowhere near enough to pass an oral but guess what? I did. Some can do it, other’s can’t. ATP gives you all the tools you need to be successful, if your goal (and work ethic) is to just pass your checkride then that’s what you’ll get. But, if it’s to be a good pilot that’s on you to step up. The exact same way they do it at the airlines which is why some pilots wash out of training.

  2. ATP only relocates for the Instructor training since there are only a few locations that do that training. In most cases your instructor training is not at your primary location regardless.

  3. I have no clue.

  4. I do know a few guys who flew corporate and are now at the Majors. I also know 3 who have been trying and can’t get the nod. Nothing wrong with private aviation but you do have to realize the average corporate pilot flies 300-500hrs a year vs the average Regional pilot who’s flying twice that amount. If I’m a Major recruiter do I take the guy whos’ been flying 7 yrs with 3000hrs or the guy with 6000hrs who (btw) has flown into virtually every airport in North America, knows about groundstops and traffic flow into ORD, ATL and JFK, understands our bidding system and is already a union member?

  5. No clue, none I know but I’m sure there are some. Most pilots I know either want to be home or go far away to try and grab some tax free money in the Far or Middle East.

  6. I did know a few former military who went to work for Blackwater a few years back. I actually looked into it and they generally want military experience.

  7. Here are some figures Justin recently posted:
    Here are the actual stats since 1/1/16 at our OGD training center:
    Private 83% first time pass
    Instrument 82% first time pass
    Commercial 76% first time pass (oddly below nationwide average)

  8. If someone needs additional time (which is rare) they will be billed an hourly rate. Normally however the time is “borrowed” from the cross-country phase so it’s not an issue.

  9. Short answer, no but I don’t believe anyone else has a vetting process either? Should someone change their mind or whatever the hours flown will be deducted and the balance of the program paid.

As for the other schools you mention 2 are over $100k and as you point out Emirates is extremely selective (not to mention I’m not a fan of the unfair competition coming from the Middle East and negatively impacting our industry here in the US).

Bottomline is this. Where here to offer advice and predominantly answer questions about the life and career of an airline pilot (hence the name AirlinePilotLife). Sure people ask about training and what we suggest and the current 3 mentors are all successful ATP grads. If you want to call that fraudulent that’s up to you but none of us make any bones or hide that fact in any way. Fact is I currently know over a dozen Major Capts who children are all training at ATP. My mentor, who was a former Presidential pilot, Fortune 500 corporate chief pilot and finally G5/Global pilot to Hollywood A list sent his GATech Engineer daughter to ATP when she decided to fly. Personally I think it’s a wonderful resource ATP has provided and I’d like to think we’ve helped a few people. Ultimately it’s up to you to do your own research and decide what’s best for you. That’s what I did. I chose ATP. They trained me, gave me an instructor position, helped me get hired at the Regional of my choice where I flew as a Capt and instructor and now I instruct and fly a heavy at a Major so you’ll forgive me if I’m a little partial :slight_smile:



Hey Adam,

Thanks for the prompt and honest reply. After re-reading my post, it was disparaging. I meant to have a more “devil’s advocate” approach, but it appears I came in a little too hot and heavy. Let’s call it a missed approach. As for round 2, I’ll keep it between the red n’ white lights.

I was under the impression that you and your colleagues founded this website and introduced ATP later on, however, it is clear now that is not the case. Seeing that this is indeed an ATP website, I’ll keep my discussion on the appropriate glide path. Sorry, no more puns.

While I did express concerns regarding the program, I know it has a success rate and it exists for a reason so I am still curious as to if the program is right for me in comparison to other programs; and I know that’s for me to decide. I suppose I should not have formed my opinions or made remarks based on 2 individuals.

Some more questions:

  • Being hired as a CFI for the school is an advertised perk, but are there times when positions are not available?
  • From your experience, do former CFIs trend higher in new-hirer pools vs. those coming from corporate aviation (lets say they have equal time on similar equipment)?
  • From your experience, if one has past employment with an airline, albeit not a pilot position, would that be any boost during hiring?
  • At the time of graduation, if one makes the decision to pursue corporate aviation, will ATP still assist in regional hiring and will the regionals still give conditional offers and tuition pay-back if one is not a CFI?
  • I read in a previous post that location of training is somewhat of a non-factor/personal preference (financial and family were major concerns), but from your experience, where are the most dynamic or intense places to fly and train (I’m thinking Florida)?

I hope I’m asking intelligent questions and not wasting anyone’s time. I’m just trying to get the broadest view as possible. After all, this costs a ton of money.

Thanks again,



Your questions are fine and believe me I understand, it IS ALOT OF MONEY and it’s also your career and your life. I’ll be honest, I’m shocked how many people come on this forum, ask “where should I train?” and after we recommend ATP they say “ok I’ll go there”. I STRONGLY recommend everyone do as much research as possible and make their own informed decision. I also believe ATP is the best one for most people, but not all. Anyway, on to your questions.

  1. ATP currently has 42 locations across the country, there are ALWAYS available positions. Keep in mind however ATP will not guarantee a location. They will offer you available locations and the choice is yours to accept one of decline the position. Second if someone has more than 2 checkride failures they will not be offered a position.

  2. The answer is yes but that’s really just a matter of numbers, not the selection process. ATP alone has 42 locations with CFIs, add in Riddle, Kent State, and the gazillion other flight schools across the country and that’s ALOT of CFIs. There simply aren’t that many corporate gigs out there AND many pilots who are in them aren’t trying to get to the airlines but trying to move up to better corporate positions.

  3. ABSOLUTELY. Airlines like to hire their own and they want to know the people they’re hiring want to work for that particular carrier (vs using the airline as a stepping stone or shooting apps to every carrier). If you’ve worked there prior (and hopefully done a good job) they obviously know who you are and it shows an affinity for that brand. Both are invaluable.

  4. No. Once you “leave the fold” of ATP you’re basically on your own. It’s not that they’re mad at you it’s simply they can no longer attest to your performance, behavior, etc. As an ATP Instructor they can. Same for the Tuition Reimbursement. That program works like this, at approx. 500hrs while instructing for ATP you’ll be able to interview with the Regionals of your choice and if you do well you’ll be offered conditional employment which includes the Tuition Reimbursement. The Regionals can do this because again ATP can monitor your performance and they have a fairly reliable indication of when they’ll be getting you. If you go out on your own they have neither.

  5. Again ATP strives to offer consistent training and experience throughout their network. Obviously some airports are busier than others and I’m a fan of those simply for exposure to those environments. Florida, NY/NJ, the West Coast, PHX all offer traffic. Seriously I’d choose the location that appeals the most to you.

Hope this helps.


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