Real Answers from Real Pilots

Flex Track ATP questions


41 year old pilot just finishing off my instrument rating with 130 hours in the logbook. Currently using my GI Bill to pay for the Instrument rating and should have my commercial rating by next summer.

Realizing that getting past that to where even the regionals will hire you is a challenge. I am an A&P, used to fix A-10’s and U-2’s when I was young. (11 years in the AF) Have been fixing flight simulators for the Army and Air Force for the last 12 years.

The hands and knees do not love doing the maintenance anymore. Had I not gotten cancer 7 years ago I would’ve started this process then, but life is just that way. It’s cleared up now, I’ve been getting class 2 physicals, shouldn’t have a problem getting a class 1 when I’m ready for it per the DME.

So, I live near Duluth MN, about 2.5 hours from the ATP school at KFCM. How reasonable is it for one to use the ATP Flex Track to get the flying done within the next year while working full time?

Going that route would I have enough hours to get in at a regional? I’m not against flying for one until I hit retirement age, location is more important that a paycheck at this point to me. I love to fly and love to show it to others.

I figured after mandatory retirement, becoming a CFI at a small rural airport in Northern MN would be the perfect life for me, but that’s long term goals…

Short term, I do have a family. In 2 years the kids will be out of the house.

Thoughts? All constructive criticism is encouraged.


You could definitely finish everything up via the Flex-Track over the next year (although a 5hr commute would definitely pose an issue. Maybe you could get a hotel or find a cheap apt to crash at for training days?). While that would get you your licenses and ratings, there’s no way you’d be able to build the 1500hrs needed for a Regional in that time. Especially if you’re only training part-time. In fact once you’re ready to instruct, while you may be able to find a part time instructor job, building the time could take quite a while.

If you’re serious about this at some point you might want to think about going all in and training and instructing full time.


Ugh, old guy syndrome…

Looking at the website again, this program gets me nowhere near the 1500 hours.

Doesn’t seem like a good idea then. I do have friends and family that live close to the facility I could crash with when needed, but looking things over more… ATP doesn’t make sense for me.

I’m better off getting my CFI here in Duluth and trying to work part time at one of the three schools nearby until I get my hours up.


Welcome to the forum!

Yes, you should be able to complete the Flex Track program in under a year, provided you are able to fly, or train, on all of your days off. You will need to meet the minimum availability requirements, which are here: Flex Track Airline Career Pilot Program / ATP Flight School

Please know that there will be a few weeks that you will need to travel for CFI school and that weather delays, especially in the winter, could make it take a bit longer.

My biggest concern is your drive time. You might need to consider staying at a hotel in-between training days or coming in the night before a training day and getting a hotel. It is important to be well rested for flight training.

After you complete ATP’s program you will have the qualifications to apply to the regionals, but not the flight time as the FAA requires airline pilots to have 1,500 hours of flight time. You will build your time as a flight instructor to get to that total amount of flight time.


As a former AF maintainer I’m used to 12-16 hour shifts. I’ve driven the AlCan Highway multiple times.

I’m kindof a road warrior, but thankfully have friends and family throughout the state I could crash with if need be.