Real Answers from Real Pilots

Is it worth it? Flex track

This question is more particular to my situation but I have seen a few that have similar situations. My flexibility is a little more limited than those that I have seen.

I’ve started my lessons for my PPL at a locate airport and plan to at least see that out. The nearest ATP to me is Kansas City but is about a 2.5 hour drive one way. Although the flex track seemed the viable option, I’d likely only be able to make it there 2 weekends a month at max and that’s assuming weather is permitting to fly.

Otherwise, I could finish my current apprenticeship, finish an associates degree, and potentially work at a Part 135 after getting my certs at a local airport. I could then finish for a bachelors. I know United works with a couple 135’s to transition in their Aviate program.

Would ATP be worth the commute and money? Or would I be be losing out because I can’t be closer to take full advantage of its training?

The hard part of this decision is the understanding that seniority is key. Relocating my family is not something I’m willing to do and flex track to instructor doing my commute seems like too much. Ideally if there is anyone that has/is doing the flex track if you could highlight your experience a little more if appreciate it.

Hi John,

The Flex Track Airline Career Pilot Program allows scheduling flexibility needed for those who cannot dedicate full time to flight training. You will provide your availability a week in advance and your instructor will schedule you accordingly. The minimum requirement that we have is that you are available for at least 15+ flight or FTD hours every 30 days.

Figuratively speaking, you may be able to meet that minimum requirement, but that is assuming perfect flying weather every day that you are available. Typically Flex Track students are committing to training every weekend a month, or two days a week (dependent on their work/school schedule.)

As an ATP instructor, we typically look to see that you are 30-45 minutes from the training center as that position is offered exclusively full-time.

This is from an admin perspective, but I’m sure some students that are currently enrolled in the Flex Track will chime in!

Hope this helps,
Addison

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John,

I do not think that two weekends per month will be sufficient to maintain the currency you need to learn and do well in the program. That is just too long of a break in-between flights to build on your knowledge base.

Please know that for United, you will most likely need a full Bachelor’s degree.

I think ATP offers a great program, but you will need to be more available to make it work.

Chris

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John,

To be honest flying 2 weekends a month won’t cut it. Problem is, while it is possible to continue and complete your training at your local flight school, the odds of success are against you. Most local flight schools simply don’t have the resources to take someone all the way.

I’m wondering why you’re so limited in only being able to train 2 weekends a month? If it’s the commute have you thought of maybe finding a cheap apt or room to crash in while your out there? That way you’d only be making that commute before and after training.

If not then by all means do what you need to do. If however you find yourself in the all to common cycle of only training now and then and wasting time and money relearning what you did because you haven’t flown in weeks or months then please cut your losses and come up with another plan. I tried myself and had I not cut my losses and made the move to ATP I would not be where I am today.

Adam

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The commute really is the problem. Working full time, on call rotation, kids sports/school, etc. It’s just not appealing to my wife or myself to relocate. I appreciate your input. I agree that once or twice every couple of weeks is not a good learning situation. It’s something I struggle with already here at home.

I have no problem continuing towards a bachelors after my associates degree. I’ve researched on the Aviate site and the 135 option was just something I’d seen as an alternative to participating 141 schools or flight schools.

Thank you for the input. It’s becoming more clear that ATP is a very involved school and for the best result I would need to be more available to it. Just hoping to make the best choice I can.

Thank you for the input! The instructor portion of it is where my lack of understanding is primarily but this is great to know now. I know being an instructor for ATP is a big part of being in any of the airlines programs.

John,

Just to clear something up, a part 135 option means an alternative to building your flight time at the regional airlines, you would still need to go to a flight school, whether it be part 61 or 141.

As an aside, the vast majority of pilots will tell you that there is zero benefit to going to a part 141 school.

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John,

As a current flex track student, I can say that two weekends a month will not be enough. I have a rotating work schedule that allows me to have more time off through the month. I still wish I could afford to quit my job and complete the program full time. I would recommend taking a little time to reassess your financial situation to see if you could take about 6 months to focus solely on the training. There are people that my let you rent a room for a decent price closer to the training facility. I know it may be tough being away from family but you aren’t that far away so you can take a few day to visit if you aren’t flying. As appealing as it sounds to keep working on your PPL with the local flight school, it may also make more sense to stop and save that money for living expenses. If you really want to pursue this you will have to make temporary sacrifices.

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Right. I knew the flight school would still need to be done for part 135. Just an alternative path I have spent some time looking at. Thank you

Thank you! This is the kind of experience I was hoping to hear about from someone. I agree it’s a matter of me balancing out what sacrifices myself and spouse are willing to make and what I would like my timeline to be. It is a short time frame and reasonable distance for the quick route. I’m just not sure it’s our best option now but potentially the future. Again, thank you for this feedback.