Real Answers from Real Pilots

Questions before I make my decision!

Hey everyone,

So it’s getting to the point where I need to make my final decision on flight school so I can get started at the beginning of the year. I’ve taken many intro flights, toured locations, and done a lot of research. Flying is definitely for me so no doubt about that. My final thing to decide is what school? I’m leaning more towards ATP but have some questions.

  1. Do I have unlimited access to sims at no additional cost? Some of the college aviation programs I have looked at said I would have to pay extra for sim time.

  2. Is the fixed cost for the program the fixed cost? Meaning will I need to buy additional flight hours at any time in the program?

  3. Is the program doable in 9 months? I have a Bachelors degree and know what it means to work hard and be dedicated to school. I will not be working during school so I can focus on flying. It’s just worries me a bit when I look at the college programs taking so long.

Thank you to anyone who is willing to answer these questions! This site has been wonderful and I greatly appreciate everyone’s insight! :slight_smile:

Brittany

Hey Brittany!

I can’t speak to official answers, but based on your description - we sound like we have a very similar story.

  1. We were always able to have access to the sim any time is was not scheduled to be used. That extra time would be done by yourself or with another student - unless you have a super nice instructor who is willing to help for free!

  2. I was able to get through the program without purchasing additional flights. If I had to guess, I don’t think its common to need much extra time. But yes, the fixed cost is the fixed cost. You will only need to buy hours if you are not able to progress at the rate the lesson plans are requiring for check ride readiness.

  3. I was at ATP when it was a 5 month program and was able to start with 0 time to MEI/CFII/CFI in 5 months. Obviously they have extended the footprint since then, but it’s definitely possible! I also had a bachelor’s going in, and it sounds like you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. I don’t think you’ll have any trouble staying on track. Depending on location, you could get some weather or examiner delays (outside of your control) so maybe consider that into what location you plan to attend.

Good luck in the program! Love to see other ATP alum out and about. Hope you choose to attend.

1 Like

Hi Brittany,

Good questions so let’s go:

  1. Yes, kinda. All of ATP’s locations have sims which are available for no extra charge for as much time as is needed. That said understand the sims are an important part of training for all the students meaning if you’re bored you can’t just go in there whenever to “play”.

  2. The cost of the program is in fact fixed and the only additional charges are checkride fees and required equipment (headset, iPad, kneeboard, etc). Now if a student needs a few additional hours they generally can and will be “borrowed” from some of the X-country flying within reason. If we’re talking about significant time required you can and may be charged but that begs the question is there some other problem. Most issues can usually be ironed out in the sim where you and your instructor can spend as much time as you need thus avoiding the need to fly additional hours. During my time as an instructor I never had nor heard of any student who ever went over.

  3. The fact is the program is actually doable in 6mos and up until a short time ago that’s how long it took. The problem was (is) the FAA has a shortage of examiners and scheduling checkrides in that short time period became an issue so they lengthened the program. You need to understand a few things. First ATP’s program is accelerated to model actual airline training. It is rigorous and does require your full attention and commitment. If you have any concern whether you can keep up you really need to ask yourself if you believe you can handle airline training which is worse. Furthermore ATP is not a college. You’ll fly almost every day vs most colleges where you’ll fly a few times a week. ATP also doesn’t have summer vacation or Spring/Winter break, a week off for Christmas, Easter or Thanksgiving etc.

Hope this helps? Feel free to ask any and all and also take a look at the Student Experience section to hear from current students.

Adam

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Hi Jordan!

Thanks so much for the feedback! That’s good to know I do have access to sims, because most places are telling that it would cost extra to practice additionally in sims.

As far as fixed cost goes, that’s good to know you didn’t need additional hours. I had heard of some people needing them, which made me wonder if maybe they just weren’t prepared enough.

Wow 5 months is really fast!!! It’s nice that the program is so quick because I just can’t see going back to school for another 2 years on top of a bachelors degree. 9 months sounds a lot better :smile: thankfully I live very close to the one in Mesa, AZ so I shouldn’t have too many problems with delays!

Thank you again for the response! I truly appreciate it and I think I already know the school I need to attend :wink:

Brittany

Hi Adam!

Thank you very much for the reponse. I’m glad to hear that extra sim time is free. Some of the colleges I have visited said if I wanted additional practice or to work out some bugs, I’d have to spend extra (which seems kind of crazy).

That makes me feel a lot better about the extra hours. I’ve done a lot of research on the school and heard of people buying extra hours, but that just didn’t seem right. Like what you had mentioned, it makes you question the student. Were they prepared, or are they capable of completing the program?

I do like the quick pace because of the fact that it trains me for the airlines. At first is seems intimidating, but you are right that if I’m going to handle airline training, I might as well train that way entirely. I worry too with a college program that only flying a couple times a week will not allow me to retain as much as I could in flying everyday. Plus too I don’t feel like doing another 2-3 years of college when I already have my degree.

This helped a ton and I truly appreciate the reponse! I will check out the student experience section too! Thank you!

Brittany

No problem at all!! I’m sure you’ll do great. I instructed at the Mesa IWA location for a year and a half. Absolutely stellar facility and a lot of management oversight. They maintain a high standard there and you’ll receive excellent training. Let me know if you have any questions along the way!

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How cool!! That’s good to know! I was pretty impressed with the IWA facility when I toured it! Thanks again!

Brittany

I have been at the Tampa location for almost 4 months and I personally have not heard or seen anyone needing to pay for additional time. ATP is good about reallocating time from other parts of the program if for some reason you do need an hour or two elsewhere.

I’m currently about a month ahead of my program outline mostly do to my instructor being willing to work everyday/odd hours and the examiner situation isn’t awful here. If we hadn’t had the hurricane in September that impacted my crew cross countries and training for a few weeks I would have been a bit further ahead, but that’s out of everyone’s control. Thatt being said If you keep up with the studying you can get ahead in the program.

The pace is intense but there still is time to be social. We have a pretty good group of people and hang out quite a bit, weather it be studying, grilling dinner, or just relaxing. I am very happy with ATP.

4 Likes

Tucker,

A month ahead of schedule? You and your instructor are rock stars! Keep up the good work.

Chris

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It would have been better had it not been for the hurricane. Mother Nature didn’t want me getting ahead.

Hi Tucker!

Okay I’m glad I won’t have to pay for extra hours. I heard a few people mention having to, but I just wasn’t sure why since the price is fixed.

Wow a month ahead?! That’s awesome! I hope I can be ahead and bust out the program quickly.

Good to know the program is doable! That was my biggest fear that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. I did take 21 credits a couple semesters in college so I feel that prepared me for working hard all day on school. But it’s nice to know you still had time to be social.

Thank you so much for the feedback!:slight_smile:

Brittany

Hi Jordan, so I was just reading your post and I too have a bachelors degree that I attained through piling on debt. Did you have debt too when you decided to attend ATP? If so what was your experience with this?

I had a bit of debt from college but I had paid most of that through scholarships and grants. I believe when I started at ATP I only had about $11k worth of debt from college. ATP put another $75k on top of that. That is a total of $86k that I have now paid down to a total of $69k left. I am required to pay about $850/month now in loans between the two, but I try to pay more than that since I have sufficient income to do so. I never had trouble making my payments as an instructor, because ATP was generous enough to provide instructor housing for an incredibly low cost. It’s been tough to make it all work but it is definitely doable! Ever since I hit 2nd year FO pay, I have been able to pay well over the minimum, which has helped my principal go down significantly. Let me know if you ever have any more specific questions!

@JLascomb Thanks for the info! I have a follow up question if you don’t mind. When you started training at ATP did your monthly loan payments for college get put on hold? I know if you get your masters for example, the grace period is extended until graduation, does this apply to ATP as well?

Thanks!
Andy

Andy,

While Jordan may be able to answer your question, her answer will be based on her experience and her loan agreement. You really need to check directly with your lender.

Chris

@Chris Thanks Chris!

@Tucker Hi Tucker, was hoping you could send me an email so I could talk to you individually about your overall experience! My email is "andyvh08@gmail.com"

Thanks,
Andy