Real Answers from Real Pilots

Cadet Program Binding Agreements

Does anyone know off the top of their head which of the various cadet programs are binding and non-binding? I know, for example, that Republic lists that their cadet program does not require applicants to sign on with Republic, whereas I believe some of the AA WO’s do require contractual obligation? I wasn’t sure if this info is clearly listed on ATP’s website and I’m just missing it.

Ben

Ben,
I don’t believe any of the cadet programs are binding until you sign paperwork accepting all the benefits. Meaning you can apply to as many as you like, get accepted in to all of them and still wait to commit. Once you commit to one, you accept the benefits provided (like tuition reimbursement) and become contractually bound to that regional upon reaching 1500 hrs. Of course, you can change your mind but you’d have to pay back any tuition reimbursement you received, repay flight benefits used, etc.
-Hannah

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Hannah,

I was browsing Republic’s Cadet description and I guess I’m a little confused what it’s saying. On their website, it states (second sentence of description) “This program requires no commitment or contractual obligation”. Does this mean one could have a CJO with Republic but not be bound to it?
I know ATP exclusively has tuition assistance programs negotiated with certain regionals, would this null that sentence, as you would be receiving money from them?

Ben

So yes, it’s two different things. Any pilot can apply to the cadet program and get mentorship and a CJO without a contract. The company isn’t giving up anything and getting you to come to their airline. However, as an ATP instructor you have the opportunity to be a cadet while also receiving tuition reimbursement. Now that the airline is paying you, you will definitely sign a contract agreeing to fly for them at 1500 hrs or pay it back.
Skywest has a very similar structure… cadet program with mentorship available to all with no contract. Plus a tuition reimbursement program specific to ATP grads with a contract.
-Hannah

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As an ATP grad, would you be able to be in a cadetship program but not receive the tuition assistance in thus not be contractually bound?
I assume the tuition assistance through ATP is just an option, right? (though I don’t know why you wouldn’t take it unless you REALLY weren’t sure if the regional you were going to).

This leads me to another question. I was reading an article the other day regarding 50 seater RJs being on the chopping block in recent times. Would that be a potential reason for joining a cadet program but not taking the tuition assistance? For example, if you committed to a regional that only has a fleet of 50 seaters, and they went under by the time you got to 1500 hours.

Ben

Yes, you can just do the Cadet program and not take any tuition reimbursement. It’s just an extra opportunity as an ATP grad, but you don’t have to take it. I don’t recommend taking any benefits until
you’re sure it’s the regional for you. When you do decide though, why not take the tuition reimbursement to help financially ease the burden of the loan? I applied to four cadet programs, attended all the orientations and chose Skywest. I felt confident in my choice and started tuition reimbursement the following month. It was amazing. CFI pay is often not enough to cover expenses plus the loan and can be completely unpredictable from month to month. Tuition reimbursement was a game changer.

I’ve read that article as well. It’s interesting but I wouldn’t worry about it. It’s the projected business model for United. They have relied on the 50 seat CRJ200 from Skywest, the E145 from Commut Air and the CRJ 550 from GoJet as a work horse. If you’re applying to a regional with that airframe, you may eventually see route reductions slowly over time but nothing major overnight. Plus there are so many other airframes being flown at the regional level. The CRJ 700 is flown at PSA, Piedmont, Endeavor and Skywest. The CRJ 900 at Endeavor and Skywest. The E175 at Republic, Envoy and Skywest.
If I were in your shoes, I would look for the regional that will be the least effected. That means the size of the airline, the amount of contracts they have with the majors and the size and diversity of their fleet. So if the United 50 seater phase out happens more rapidly than anticipated, it still wouldn’t change the health of the company all that much.

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Thanks Hannah!

Ben

Ben,

Keep in mind many of the Regionals will allow you to bypass the Tuition Reimbursement and then take it later as a signing bonus. They understand new pilots might be hesitant to commit but they also don’t want pilots to feel cheated so they allow that.

Adam

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Adam or Hannah,

On this topic of Cadet Programs, do most require you to flight instruct at ATP post-graduation to be eligible for some of these benefits?

Thanks for all the help! looking forward to starting Fast Track (Credit Private) on February 21 at the YIP location!

Matthew,

Yes. That’s why ATP was able to established these partnerships. Now you may be able to participate if you instruct elsewhere or do something else but that’s a question for the airline.

I do know a pilot who was accepted, left ATP to instruct elsewhere and their offer was rescinded.

Adam