CFI Quality Concerns - Daytona

Hey Everyone,

So I was issued my First Class last week and I was just about to place a deposit to secure a spot at the Daytona Beach location before I thought to myself, “hmm… the smallest plane I’ve ever been in is a twin turbo, maybe I should see if this is for me before I commit a $1,000 non-refundable deposit.” So I booked a discovery flight with a local flight school, and lo and behold flying is certainly for me. However my flight instructor had graduated from the Fast Track program at Daytona, and his exact words were “it was the worst decision of my life.”

His reasoning was the CFIs are absolutely horrible on both the ground and the air. He said he spent 20 hours with one instructor who taught him absolutely nothing except how to spend 20 hours on Facebook. On the ground, he mentioned none of the administrators or CFIs were willing to answer any questions and basically treat you like dog poo. I understand that a lot of this is self-study (taught), and I don’t mind because I basically got through college and achieved several industry certifications in my current career via self-study, however my personal safety never relied on any of this information.

Another concern he brought up was that the $80,995 “tuition” is not exactly a one time flat fee. He had to get additional loans because he needed a few more multi-engine hours and ATP was billing him $500+/hr because he had already used up his allotted multi time. I tried looking up time allotments on ATP’s site but I could not find any information on it. One of the biggest draws to ATP is that I thought I knew exactly what I’d be getting for the money.

I liked this guy, however he did seem like a bit of a complainer. He admitted he completed the program in 9 months and that ATP is the fastest way to 1500 hrs, but strongly recommended looking at the mom and pops on Florida’s east coast to save money. When asked if ATPs claim of airline industry immersion from day 1 was beneficial, he responded “yes, but any flight school can do that.”

I’m moving to Melbourne, FL this Fall and there are a lot of flight schools within an hour of there. Some with testimonials of graduates claiming they achieved their CFII + Instruments in under a year for less than $65K. I’m absolutely still considering ATP, however I just want to make sure the extra cost and saved time is worth the low quality of life and rampant immaturity that I keep hearing about.

Thanks in advance for anyone’s input on the concerns I listed above.


Hi Anderson,

I am not an official mentor on here. However I did successfully complete the program in just 5 months from 0 time - and 5 years later was sitting right seat at Southwest. I can tell you now that 99% of the people who will complain about the quality of ATP were people who could not handle the pace of the program. Given this person needed extra training hours, it seems to be just this case. You will get exactly what you pay for with the flat rate - a set amount of hours to get you through the program. Should you need more training on top of what ATP’s program is set, then of course you will have to pay extra. I cannot speak for the company, but I do believe there is a possibility to pull hours from other parts of the program. This would be entirely dependent on where you need help and what you have left.

You sound like an ideal candidate for ATP’s program. I know many current students/recent graduates of the specific DAB location, and I am sure they will give their input. I have never heard of an instructor story like what you speak that was not fired shortly after. ATP holds a very high standard for their employees, instructors, and most of all their students. If this were truly a problem and brought to the company’s attention, then it would have been immediately addressed. You are paying for quality instruction and if you feel as though you are not getting that, then you need to bring it to their attention. I would not worry about this part at all. And if you feel as though you want more specific details on the layout (hours) of the program, then I am sure you can contact HQ for that info. ATP is by far the fastest way to achieving your ratings, but it will also train you specifically to airline standards that will be a foundation for your long-term career - trust me on this one.

Good luck to you!

5 months from 0 time - do you wear a cape and have an S printed on your chest?!

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Haha believe it or not, in 2013 the zero time program was 150 days and the credit for private was 90!

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Any company will sometimes have issues with their employees and contractors, including ATP. I have dealt with some of these issues myself at ATP and in every single case, the instructor in question was let go. The problem often lies in the fact that students, for whatever reason, do not speak up. If management is not aware of the problem, it cannot possibly solve it.

The program provides a set amount of hours that is sufficient for the vast majority of students to complete their training, but some people do need extra time. Usually there is time that can be moved from one aspect of the program to the other, but not always.

Take a look at those other flight schools. I highly doubt that they have the fleet size or the number of instructors needed to train everyday. Take a look at this thread:

I have to ask, if you are thinking of attending ATP, why didn’t you take your intro flight with ATP?


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Hey Jordan,

Thanks for sharing your experience. This will definitely help my decision making.

And congrats on making it up to Southwest!

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Hey Chris,

I was wondering myself why he didn’t speak up about his lousy CFI. He kind of implied that managers will swap your instructor if you throw a big enough stink, but I guess he didn’t care to.

I didn’t take my intro flight with ATP because I currently live in New Orleans and there isn’t an ATP location within several hundred miles. I can’t make it to Daytona until august, but I wanted to place the deposit so it’s guaranteed I can start in October, as well as get started on the coursework and be as prepared as possible.


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As Jordan said 0 time was 6 months and Private Credit was 3 months up until late 2017 (?) when the DPE shortage started to get into full swing with all the incoming students to places like ATP and Mom and Pop schools.

ATP pushed the timeline to keep their “guarantee” instead of quoting 3 and 6 months knowing full well that it very likely wont happen in that short time.

3 and 5 months (not 6). But yes - the DPE shortage was not the sole reason. There are many that caused it to be extended. All for the benefit for the student. Trust the process. ATP is the best at what they do.

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And to clarify - at one point the full program was 180 days (6 months), but at that time the credit for private was 120 (4 months). Doesn’t matter much either way. It is what it is now for a reason.


The others have addressed you concern as well as it can be. The mere fact that the instructor made the sweeping statement “the CFIs are absolutely horrible on both the ground and the air” is ridiculous. Are they all rockstars? I’m sure some are better than others but all? The fact is ATP has been training pilots for the airlines for over 30yrs (long before every flight school in the country decided to buy a twin and mimic the program) and has placed over 600 pilots with airlines in the last 12 mos alone.

I’m with Jordan, the majority of people who complain are the people who couldn’t keep up which begs the question what will they do when they’re hired by an airline (and how many checkrides did they bust)? ATP pioneered the Regional Airline relationships and ATP pilots were getting hired long before there was a shortage. The reason was the airlines knew the ATP grads could keep up because they’ve already proven their ability to handle the pace. While it’s many times easier to get hired these days the fact is the wash out rates at the Regionals is also many times higher. Yes any flight school can help you get your licenses and ratings but not every school will prepare you for the airlines.

It’s your decision. In my book I’d rather spend $80k on a known quantity than gamble with $65k and my future career.


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I would respectfully disagree with your friend’s experience. Although we did have staff changes and a new layer of management was added to maintain a higher level of training standardization as the company continues to grow, my experience is far from what that student described. I completed my program ahead of schedule and below the loan amount. It took work and initiative on my part. If I didn’t adequately understand something and my instructor was not available to hold my hand and explain something to me, I found another instructor to help me or found resources on my own. If you believe that you may not operate well in the environment that requires you to sustain a high level of individual effort, then the self-paced programs may be a better fit. Be mindful that with ANY flight school you may end up being assigned a CFI whose entire goal at that time is to build the hours and you end up being an afterthought. That is unprofessional and unethical no matter where you go, and actually contradicts one of ATPs core values. You have little to lose by paying DAB a visit and making a decision on your own.

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That’s great to know - it means I should be able to absorb the material in as little as 3/4 months so by scheduling 6 months I should be able to be even more competent and deal with DPE shortages. Start June 17, finish by Christmas.

I’m currently working on completing all writtens before starting. I gave notice at work this week, will have almost a month off before starting ATP and have made an internal commitment to myself to get all writtens done before day 1. And now I just committed on this forum in writing so I have to follow through!

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Finishing the writtens is the absolute best thing that you can do to get ahead in the program. You will be very glad to have completed as many as possible.


Since I started this thread, I think it’s only fair to give an update one month in at KDAB.

So far my opinion of the Daytona training environment could not be further from what the above mentioned CFI told me to expect. Including my primary, I’ve flown with four different CFIs and they are all extremely professional and proficient in their aircraft. Each one has improved my flying in one way or another. As we are a Class C airport, there’s a considerable amount of time spent on taxiways and runups, but my flying skills are where they should be so I’m not concerned about that as of now. However if I got behind, I could see that time adding up against me.

Book-wise I came in with all 6 writtens completed, and I have to say that was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a while. Thanks for all the advice on that. It’s taken a lot of the stress off and allows me to focus on checkride prep and thoroughly learning the POH.

I don’t spend too much time at the FBO, but the environment there is pretty positive and welcoming. Everyone seems willing to help each other and there isn’t the competitive vibe you’d find in other career advancing education programs. The maintenance guys are great. They’ll come check something out on your plane within a few minutes of calling. From my understanding, we may take that for granted here and this might not be the case at every location.

Overall I’m very confident I made the right decision coming to KDAB. I appreciate all of the advice that has led me here.



Thank you for the update and for sharing your experiences. Please keep doing so as you go through the program.


Thanks for the update. Glad you are enjoying your time at KDAB. I still fly by and visit once in a while when DAB Approach is not so busy and is feeling magnanimous. Having experienced other training environments, your read on maintenance is spot on—they are very responsive to any of even the smallest issues and are a fantastic bunch of guys. So are the line guys… Trust me—what you take as the norm there is not the norm at most flight schools. Most of the instructors I flew with have turned over and went on to the airlines. I think there may be one or two still left over who have signed my logbook in the past.

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