Hey all - I’ve been considering a career change and having strongly considering becoming a airline pilot (both my father and grandfather were pilots as well).
Here’s my dilemma, while I appreciate the focus that ATP allows, I’m curious if it is possible to take more time than the 9 months that are allowed?
I currently have a great job, however, I recently bought a home so just not working for 9 months to train really is not in the cards right now. Nor would strictly working as a CFI after I graduate from the program…as $40,000/yr simply wouldn’t cover the mortgage. I would plan on maintaining my current job and working a a CFI on the side. I know this will take time but I’m not exactly worried about getting my career transitioned handled in the shortest time possible. I’ve heard other go on about the mantra that you need to establish seniority as quickly as possible but if the pilot shortage is as bad as everyone says it will be, I don’t think that me taking a few more years to gain my hours is really going to hurt me that bad.
Thanks for the help and any advice you can offer!
The short answer is no. ATP actually experimented with a “Self-Paced” program a few years ago and it didn’t work. Flight training relies on consistency (which is why the airlines and the military train daily) in order to get consistent results. The good news is there are literally hundreds of flight schools that will take your money and allow you to take as much time as you like.
Btw, If both your father and your grandfather were airline pilots I suggest you ask them if a “few years” can make a difference in your career.
A few things to point out here. No, it is not possible for ATP’s program to e stretched out any longer. By offering a consistent, accelerated product, ATP is able to offer the program that they do with a fixed price. If you were to start stretching the program out, it would cost more as you would need more flight training.
I think you will find it difficult to find part time employment as a CFI. If I owned a flight school, or was a new student, I would want a CFI that was available the majority of the time, not somebody who is filling in time around their other job.
Your views on seniority are not correct. Yes, you will probably be able to get hired at the regionals in two years or six years, that will not change much. What will affect you greatly is the longer time it will thus take for you to get to the majors. Let’s just say you have a four year delay, although I suspect it will be longer, this could easily be the difference between retiring as a 777 Captain, or a 737 Captain, which is a tremendous pay difference. It will also be the difference between days off, working weekends, holidays, when you do upgrade to Captain, etc. If that is okay with you, that is fine, but just be aware that any delay can and will have a significant impact on your career.
Is it correct that after being hired on with an airline that one is a ‘reserve’ pilot to start, working up to eventual ‘full time’? How many hours per month is normal/full time?
Yes, most new hire pilots start as “reserve” pilots. However, this is a full time position with a guaranteed pay of around 70-75 hours per month (depending on the airline). After the pilot has enough seniority, they move to being a “line holder”, which means that your trips are assigned further out in advance. Typically line holders get about 85 hours per month of pay.
In most cases, at most airlines. If you look at my schedule I bid for Reserve as I can get the days off I want and often fly a lot less than if I had a “line”. The difference is it’s my choice.
Thanks so much!