Trying to do research into what route towards getting the 1500 and into the regionals would be best for me before I commit significant time and money, while working and saving as much money to reduce student loan principals.
Obviously I know that the users may be biased here, but when browsing other pilot online communities/forums/reddit, I found a prevailing theme of ragging on ATP schools and the pilots they produce. I’ve seen criticism of the zero to hero program as benign as being a tad overpriced. I’ve even seen blasting of ATP as a pilot mill, with many CFIs only caring about hitting 1500 and bailing for a job at the regionals, along with the accusation of producing subpar pilots as a consequence of the super-condensed content.
I personally have some skepticism - guaranteed CFI position, and a pretty decent chance of getting a seat on the regionals sounds too good to be true. And you what they say.
You just gotta take what you hear as a grain of salt and do what works for you ultimately… I didnt do other research from forums about ATP before I joined, because most of the people that review ATP or anything for the matter, only make reviews when something is wrong or bad. Personally, Ive loved being a part of ATP. I have made tons of friends, from CFI’s to other students.
As a former ATP student, instructor and now Capt at a Major airline I can confirm most of what you say as being 100% correct. My question for you is why is that bad?
ATP is a “pilot mill”: The term “mill” implies a place that produces a large amount of product. In this case the product being pilots. ATP placed over 600 of their students at airlines in the last 12 months alone. Their students enrolled and yes paid ALOT of money (flight training isn’t cheap) specifically for that purpose. Again I’ll ask why is that bad? Didn’t they get exactly what they wanted and paid for?
CFIs only care about building 1500hrs: Soooo are on this forum, staying up at night and daydreaming during the day because your lifelong dream is to be a CFI? Mine sure wasn’t. I wanted to be airline and I, just like virtually EVERY OTHER PERSON FLIGHT INSTRUCTING IN THIS COUNTRY, aspired to fly bigger and better planes. Does that mean I was a bad instructor? Absolutely not! I was a great instructor, earned my Gold Seal and instructed at the airlines as well. Again I’ll ask why is that a bad thing? I’m willing to bet a whole lot of money when you hit 1500hrs you too will bail for a Regional. Does that mean you’ll be a bad instructor too?
ATP pilots are “subpar”: Newsflash, ALL pilots MUST pass exams administered by the FAA or their designee. You either pass or you don’t and if you’re sub-par you don’t. Further back in the day before the pilot shortage and everyone with 1500hrs and a pulse gets an interview, ATP actually pioneered the Regional Airline partnerships specifically because ATP students were successfully completing training while others failed. I actually was able to interview 200hrs earlier than the stated minimums due to training with ATP.
The reality is there are pilots who successfully completed their training with ATP and are busy flying for airlines and those who were unsuccessful or went elsewhere who are busy bashing ATP.
I find those negative reviews to be more negative towards the author than ATP. I’ve heard all of the excuses and they’re all inflated and according to the student, nothing is ever the student’s fault. Not a single person that has written a negative review of ATP has taken responsibility for the outcome of there program. That’s because they never held themselves accountable. They treated ATP like a drive through, ie. $80k = ratings. No. That’s not how it works. The program is highly accelerated, which requires each student to take responsibility for the outcome of their program. If you read some of the articles in the FAQ section and the experiences from current and former students in the Student Experiences section, you’ll find some exceptional testimonies.
I start at ATP in 11 days. I began my research into this career switch a little over one year ago. I’ve read more forum/reddit threads than I care to admit and have still decided on ATP for a few reasons.
Time. Nearly every post that attempts to dissuade people from attending ATP focuses on cost rather than time. Can you get all of your ratings done cheaper somewhere else? Yes. Can you get them done in 9-12 months (0-hero)? Very unlikely. Many people will even state in their responses to this question that they got all of the same ratings in 18-24 months or even more. I am 34. One extra year spent training could cost me upwards of 250k at the end of my career due to mandatory retirement. This is simple math that is often overlooked or ignored by the people that justify spending 2 years or more earning their ratings.
Structure. As I have already put down my deposit and officially enrolled, I can see the entire syllabus for my training online. From my first flight, to my last check ride, everything is in print and I know what to expect along the way.
The machine. ATP exists for one thing; to make money by creating career ready pilots. That is their product. They have made a lot of money doing this and therefore have a very big operation. Lots of planes, in-house maintenance, industry relationships…these are all things that I believe will help me reach my ultimate goal of flying for the airlines in as little time as possible (see no. 1).
As to your point about pilots ragging on ATP grads or questioning their skills, I don’t know as I don’t fly for the airlines. What I do know is that I’ve seen just as many or more posts about people ragging on ERAU or UND grads, so I take it all with a huge grain of salt.
Edit: I just want to add, so that I don’t sound like too much of a shill, that I do not expect training to go perfectly. There will be delays and setbacks like bad weather, DPE availability etc, but those are problems that exist anywhere.
As some who also frequents the reddit flying sub, I’ve seen a fair share of criticism and “buyer beware” posts. Most recent one I saw complained of delays on part of ATP, with the poster stating there was no checkride in sight due to lack of DPE availability, something that another user claimed has been an issue for the better part of 2+ years.
And like the OP in this thread, I’ve seen a fair amount of people equating ATP to diploma mills.
DPE’s service all FAA checkrides so it isn’t just ATP that is seeing these delays.
Also ATP being a diploma mill is a false equivalence because a lot of those degree mills don’t have proper accreditation. Now ATP could definitely be called a pilot mill, but I don’t see the negative connotation the same way I would for a college degree mill. All pilots are required to take their licensing exams through designated FAA examiners. So in that regard everyone is on the same playing field when it comes to passing or failing to get their ratings. How someone can receive the training leading up to their checkrides is what varies.
How would the FAAs, you know the folks who control the entire aviation system (or maybe you don’t?), lack of staffing ever possibly be considered a “delay on the part of ATP”?
The rest has been addressed. That all said first, while all are encouraged to comment the above simply doesn’t make sense. Second we’re really not here to sell anybody on anything. If someone takes something like the above statement seriously and chooses to go elsewhere that clearly demonstrates they didn’t do their homework.
I read that reddit thread where the person was complaining about DPE availability. However this isn’t some ATP issue - it’s nationwide. The good examiners in popular locations are booked for months out no matter what school you go to. The system really needs to be overhauled, but that’s a whole other subject.
I have never understood the problem with ATP being a “pilot mill”. To me that is a compliment, it shows that ATP is very good at producing large numbers of pilots. Remember that all pilots take the exact same check rides and do so with the FAA, not the flight school.
The reddit poster is just another hater, pointing the finger because they want to blame something or someone instead of accept the reality of the bigger picture which is outside of anyone’s control and thoroughly covered by the recent responses to your post.