Average schedule for a student?

I was wondering if anyone could give me an example of what their schedule looked like while in the program. I know that it is difficult, and requires a lot of time, but I’ve also heard that a lot of it is independent study. I understand that there are also night flights, exams, etc.
But what does that look like on a daily/weekly basis? Are you at your location 8-6 most days, or is it more random? How many hours do you estimate you invested weekly (40, 60, 80??) What do your days off look like, if you have any? Is there any sort of routine you develop, or is your schedule entirely random?
And for those of you who later became instructors for ATP, I’d be curious what your schedule looked like for that as well.
I would just love to have a good idea/visual in my mind about what to expect!

Hey Emma,

I am a current student (started January 10th) so I can’t tell you how the whole program will be but I can tell you the basics of your first two weeks.

Assuming your first day is a Monday, you’ll spend most of the day trying to estabilish some sort of reference point for all the new information that’s being presented to you. What I mean by this is that between the paperwork and getting acclumated, you’ll go up for a fundamentals flight where you learn about the basics of how to fly and every spare moment the rest of the day will be you spent trying to form a basis of understanding. There’s a lot of information to be absorbed so your first day to first week so it will be overwhelming. Just expect that.

There’s no typical schedule for ATP but here’s what I do: Generally, I’ll show up at the airport around 8:30 and start studying. If there’s any prepwork for a flight later that day, I’ll start getting ready. We try to fly just about every weekday, but between maintenance and weather, that won’t always happen. Most of everyday is self study, but your instructor will be able to tell you where to focus on at each stage. Additionally, you’ll have a few ground study lessons with your CFI but that won’t be every day or even close.

I may be going overboard, but I plan on studying at least 10 hours a day (because I’m motivated). You won’t have to be at locatioon very long if you don’t want to be and could usually be home by 6. You could end up just being on location for 3-4 hours a day. However, I find it more beneficial to study on location to keep my mind centered. (Buy some noise cancelling headphones!)

Your day-to-day schedule is slightly random, but you do develop a rythm that works well for you. Days off? I haven’t had any yet, but thats just because I don’t want to. Like I said, I’m motivated! However, you’ll only be scheduled for weekends if you want to be/if you’re delayed by weather/maintenance.

Let me know if there’s anything more specific you want me to talk about or if that’s about it. ATP is a lot of work but it is worth it.




I like your attitude and your desire to study, fly and get it done. That kind of mentality will serve you well in this industry. Thank you for adding your insights.




Check out this link, it gives a breakdown of each section of the program and even has a “Typical Day” tab for each: Airline Career Pilot Program Flight Training Timeline / ATP Flight School


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Another great place to look is the student experiences section. It’s got a ton of great insight from active students going through the program right now.


Hi Emma,

Your schedule will vary quite a bit day to day. It will depend on weather, plane, instructor schedule etc. Many instructors try to schedule out a week ahead if they can but last minute changes can happen and the expectation is that you are available in case it does.

Also the earliest flight block is usually as soon as the sun is up, and changes depending on time of year as we try to utilize all day light available. So in the summer flights start as early as 6 (which means you should be there by 5 to prepare and preflight). So it’s not a typical 9-5 schedule. Your ability to manage time, including rest, is very important, as your schedule day to day can be very inconsistent.

In the new 7 month program the students are kept quite busy. They average 8 events a week in the private stage and have two zoom classes per week. Each event (flight or sim) is typically 3-4 hours and includes prep, preflight, lesson and debrief. If you are delayed during the week due to weather or maintenance you will likely need to fly during the weekend to catch back up to the schedule.

Self study is expected as part of the program. Though there are ground lessons, you will be expected to come to each lesson having done all your homework (Read View Do’s) beforehand, which can require anywhere from 1-3 hours to prepare for the next day’s lesson.

Hope this helps, it’s intense and fast paced but very manageable if you stay on top of it.


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Thank you for adding your insights here, I appreciate it.