Flight instructor

To earn hours, do I have to be an flight instructor? Is there another way to earn hours?


There are plenty of other ways to time build like traffic watch, pipeline patrol, banner towing, etc. The downside to these types of jobs though is that they are primarily done in single engine airplanes, during day VFR conditions. In order to be eligible to fly for a regional you have to meet the requirements of FAR 61.159, which requires more than just 1500 total time. A common route that many pilots take to meet those requirements is after they have accumulated about 800-1200 hours, they apply for a position at a part 135 operation like Ameriflight or Boutique Air. That’s where their multiengine, instrument, cross country, and sometimes PIC flying is obtained from. This isn’t the most expeditious route, but it is a route that many have taken before.


If the ATP location you graduated from is very slow for CFI hours, is it possible to supplement with teaching at a different rural airport, clubs, or even flying per diem? Or is that an unrealistic outlook. I understand that they would (rightfully) expect as much availability as possible, but, if the hours are limited for a certain number of months, would it be feasible to think of other ways to earn income? Just looking for a realistic long term expectations here, any expertise very much appreciated!


Your employer ATP expects you to have full availability to the ATP students meaning they need to be prioritized over all of your other employment committments (if any). Seeing how much time instructors spend with students and on pre- and post-flight activities, I think juggling two CFI jobs would be unrealistic.

If I were you, I’d check some of the busiest locations that ATP has once you get your CFI (because student loads fluctuate) and ask ATP (and yourself) where they may need you due to instructor shortage. I know DAB has no issue with CFIs lacking flight time for example.


That really helps! Thanks so much!


First off you may or may not be offered the opportunity to instruct at the location you trained at. After successfully completing your training, ATP will tell you where they have availability and you can decide whether to take that position or not. It’s also possible to put in a request to transfer once you’re instructing. ATP always tries to keep the same student/instructor ratio at all it’s locations. So while a location may be less busy overall, the instructors should have the same opportunity to build flight hours as the busier locations. That said obviously ATP cannot guarantee nor do they have control over how many students enroll or where they go at any given time.

The short answer is no, you cannot work for ATP and also work elsewhere. You yourself are considering committing fulltime over the next 9mos of your life and $80,000 to accomplish this goal. How would you feel if your instructor wasn’t available when you needed them to be. If it was the day before your checkride and they told you “hey I have to work my other job so Joe here will take you up. You’ve never flown together before but don’t worry you’ll be fine”. Not cool right? The same level, quality and commitment YOU want from your instructors is the same you should provide to your students when the time comes.


Thank you, Adam for the perspective. I absolutely agree, and obviously would commit 110% I tend to over analyze for the worst possible scenario and worry if there may not be enough instructing hours to make loan payments, ect. Just collecting data for a plan A, B and C if necessary :slight_smile: Also, it would not be possible to re-locate to a different center (I realize this is presuming quite a lot, and being unreasonable) but that’s the simple facts. So, I worry about details, lol.


There is nothing wrong with worrying about details. As pilots, that is what we are paid to do. The details matter in aviation.