Hi, I will try to make this brief. How likely are you to be hired by the regionals if you don’t go the CFI route and just build time with friends financing/ leasing a plane. I know the cost is one of the biggest obstacles here but our main concern is the airlines consideration and how they look at it when it comes time to interview… Do CFI’s get priority?
Getting hired by a Regional once you’ve built the required 1500hrs (and all the other ATP requirements) is relatively easy. There a pilot shortage and they need bodies.
What’s not so easy is getting through newhire Regional training. While the Regionals are hiring like never before the washout rate is also the highest it’s every been. Why? Because too many pilots are focused solely on the quantity of hours and not the quality. If you and your friends spend the next year or two simply buzzing the pattern or going for $200 lunches I can assure you you’ll be part of that unfortunate group who can tell their grandchildren how the were hired by an airline but never actually made it. The reason we’re all so keen on flight instructing is because instructing forces you to remain vigilant, multitask and most important sharpen your skills and knowledge.
You can build time however you like but just know day 1 of newhire training you’re expected to be a VERY competent and knowledgeable instrument pilot. If not, you may have a really short career.
You can probably get hired by the regionals with 1,500 hours that you purchased, but getting through training is another thing. Pilots that spend 1,000 hours burning holes in the sky are not working on improving, or even maintaining, their skills. Your instrument skills will erode and with it your ability to pass airline training. So, yes, airlines often give CFIs priority as they know they will be able to pass training.
I’m going to speak from recent experience with a sim partner that went this route.
Don’t do it unless you’re spending a ton of time IFR.
My partner built time the way you mentioned and flew amphibian Caravans part time, which actually sounds like a lot of fun. But he has been on the struggle bus through training. It has been very challenging.