Start from zero or private

Hi guys.
First of all, I’d like to say it’s been over a year since I joined this forum and I’ve been really blessed with the advice, help and contributions from Adam, Chris, Tory and every other person .
Now, I have heard that a couple of ATP flight instructors (not all) only care about building flight time and i know how challenging the fast track program is. Because of this, I thought it might be better to obtain a ppl from a Part 141 school that isn’t so fast-paced before joining ATP. That way, you would have some knowledge of the dynamics of flying and fundamental level training; such that, if you were given one of those instructors, it wouldn’t drastically impede your ability to learn. I wanted to get your advice on this. Thanks

Thank you for your kind words. It is nice to know that what we do is appreciated.

I would get the whole notion of part 61 v. 141 out of your head. There really is no material difference other than extra paperwork for a part 141. Either kind of school could take it slow or fast depending on your needs.

Yes, ATP instructors are there to build flight time for the airlines. You will be in the same position yourself someday. Now they should care about a lot more than that if they want to continue to be an ATP instructor. But bad apples do exist and can be found at any school, even part 141 schools. If you get an instructor you don’t care for at ATP, you can always request to work with somebody else.

Keep in mind that ATP trains at the same pace the airlines do, their programs modeled on airline training programs. If you can’t keep up at ATP, you likely won’t be able to keep up at an airline either.

I don’t see this as being a major concern for you. I think that the vast majority of instructors at any school are there to. do a good job and of course build time for the airlines.



If you’re looking for a flight instructor who isn’t interested in building time you need to find some 65+ year old who’s flying a Cub off a grass strip 100mi from Boise. Otherwise EVERYONE instructs to build time. Does that mean they’re bad instructors? Does that mean you’ll be a bad instructor when your time comes? I hope not.

As for the pace, as Chris said the pace is set intentionally high to prepare people for airline training which is even more accelerated. Personally I feel the sooner you’re exposed to that environment the better.

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery which is why suddenly, after decades, virtually every flight school in the country is trying to create what ATP has with their career programs. Thing is it’s nothing new for ATP and they have it down.


Thank you Chris, Thank you Adam.
I really would just love to get the full training at ATP from zero to require time, then instruct with ATP, go through the tuition reimbursement program and just have a straight path to majors. It’s just, you hear this and that from here and there, and you read all these stuffs, just want to be sure I’m making taking the optimal path.

The main reason I started thinking about obtaining my ppl from a different school that allows you to pay per hour, is the total cost of the training at ATP. You’re looking at a loan of around 100k and someone on this forum said with such amount, you’d be paying about 1200-1500 every month, (all factors considered). It’s not a matter of whether it’s worth it because I know it is. The question is will I be able to provide that sort of money every month at least for the first few years, which are always the roughest years of a pilot’s life.

And it’s true that if I were to go through a school that charges by the hour , I’d eventually spend more in total but the payments are in installments. I just don’t like the fact that you really don’t know how much you need to pay to finish the program, unlike ATP where the price is fixed.

Keep in mind that even if you get your PPL from a different school, you will still need 78 hours of flight time to begin ATP.

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Oh wow. Then it’s not worth it. To get 78hours, you’d have spent close to 30k already . If not more. Thanks Chris.

A problem with where I am at; NY-NJ area, is that there is no ATP housing available. I’d have loved to just be in that learning environment with fellow students, you could study together, brainstorm and challenge one another. It’s healthier to surround oneself with like-minds.

Just out of curiosity, how are you calculating the 30k figure?

I got my PPL outside of ATP, built the extra time and came in with about 85 hours, and spent roughly $18k total.

Oh yeah… I misread the breakdown that they sent. I included the cost of Instrument Rating which was about another 15000. The total estimate is 15,500 for 60hours, so 80hours would be about 20k. I assume, I’d still do my instrument rating if I start from ppl license at ATP, right?

Yes, you’d do everything through your CFIs (IR, ME, CPL, CFI, CFII, MEI).


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Ok thanks a lot.

Wow, I’m really glad I looked at this because I didn’t know about the 78 hour requirement for people starting ATP with a PPL! That definitely cancels out anything I would have saved doing it somewhere else first…


It is a requirement for ATP, but that is because of total hours that will be needed to receive your commercial certificate. So you would need this time eventually at any flight school. This is a classic case of why I really cant stand flight schools that advertise minimum hours, without giving the whole picture as to flight time required by the FAA.


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Sorry, I’m a little confused now… Coming in with 78 hours won’t mean that I’ll need to have a commercial licence by then, right? Would it still just be a zero-time or ppl requirement to enroll in ATP?


No. What Chris was simply giving you the reason for the 78hr requirement to start the program with credit for your Private. To earn your Commercial license there’s a minimum hour requirement of 250hrs. Based on the time allotted for all your ratings AFTER your Private, if you were to come into the program with less than the 78hrs you wouldn’t reach the 250 and couldn’t earn your Commercial. Make sense?



Adam and Chris,

Now I get it! Thanks for explaining this and clearing it up, you two!

Hello, while working for the majors wouldn’t be bad, at 45 I think a regional position wouldn’t be bad at captains pay. You think 45 is getting too far up there? I would really just love to fly and be paid to do so. ATP is what direction I am aiming, advice. Zero to regional or beyond, 20+ good years left in me.
Thx Shaun


There are daily posts asking “at xx am I too old?”. Fact is you may never make it to a Major but as long as you’re cool with that you’re def not too old. That said it is time to get crackalacken.


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There is a detailed post in the FAQ section that covers this. Short answer is that you are not too old, but you don’t have time to waste and you need to have realistic career expectations, which it sounds like you do.

Check out that post, then let us know if you have further questions.



Thank you