I have been told that training is standardized across all locations but I have to ask, do you honestly get the same support and training at all locations? This is a huge decision for one to make and I just want to ensure that no matter the location I go to, I am going to have the dedicated training materials and support that I need to ensure I can both learn what I need to know and complete training in 7 months. I do understand that ATP has some locations that are larger than others, but is it wise to go to one of the smaller locations (ex. Olive Branch, MS)?
You can check here: Directory of Flight Training School Locations / ATP Flight School and find out what training locations have what equipment available.
As for books, all the supplements and checklist are sent to each training location and you receive a box prior to starting with your FAA materials, book bag, and uniforms.
Maintenance is handled at certain locations, but the planes will be moved there or maintained at location if the need arises, new planes are brought to the training locations to maintain the fleet.
As for support, ATP operates largely online, with the Elevate ground school and CFI grounds through computer based learning. ATP maintains a large library of resources online, and a huge library available to you through the ATP extranet as soon as you receive an official start date.
CFI training (for ATP CFIs) is conducted at a handful of locations to ensure CFIs are trained to the same standards.
I operate out of a smaller location and have been to a few of the larger locations, and I can tell you from experience, ATP is pretty impressive in their ability to operate across as large of a geographical area as they do, this coming from someone who has worked in several large organizations.
You’re right, this is a huge decision, but not just for you. It’s huge for every single person in your position. If there were a “best” location (or 2], then it would stand to reason that everyone would go there. ATP has been training pilots for the airlines for more that 35yrs. If the training were lacking at certain locations, ATP would never have been able to establish their relationships with the airlines (You’d have airlines saying we won’t take pilots from XYZ, that doesn’t happen). We have this wonderful thing called the internet and if ATP were delivering sub-standard training at some locations the word would be out. While there are naysayers regarding the program out there, I’ve never heard that one.
Really the biggest variable in the program (and the one you need to focus on) is YOU. ATP has literally trained thousands of pilots for the airlines, the program works and is proven but it’s up to you to work harder than you probably ever had to be successful. If you’re up for it you’ll do fine, if you’re not you won’t, regardless of the location.
ATP operates out of one central hub in Jacksonville. From there resources are allotted using the same formula for every location. I believe the student to instructor ratio is no more than 3-1. The size of the student population dictates how many airplanes are allotted to that location, etc. The weather will differ and the size of the student/instructor population but other than that, the training you receive and the opportunities provided to you will be the same no matter which location you choose. You need to figure out which location provides the best environment for you to be successful- one with short commute, housing available nearby and few other distractions.
To add to the chorus here, there really is no one “best” location. The formulas to instructor to student ratio and aircraft to student ration are the same across all of the locations. ATP tries very hard to standard the student experience at all locations and I think they do a good job of that. I would pick the location that is most convenient for you and not give it any second thought.
Like everyone said, the training is really standardized. The biggest difference you’ll see is being at a location with a maintenance facility or a CFI academy. Here at Concord, we have both and there are ups and down. For maintenance, we get get our planes fixed as quickly as they break (assuming its a small fix). However, we regularly get other locations bringing us their planes for us to fix and then they leave taking away one of our working ones.
Its similar for CFI. We don’t have to travel when we go to CFI academy, but the CFIs also occasionally use our planes as well. That’s not too big of a deal, since they have their own planes as well, but sometimes their is an overlap.
This all isn’t to say that one location is better than another, but there are some differences that its just good to be aware of. The training you’ll receive will be top notch at any location.