Real Answers from Real Pilots

What does the typical day look like for a new student?

What is the daily schedule like? Is it a strict 9-5 sort of thing, Monday-Friday, with each hour blocked off for different activities, or is it more fluid depending on the student? Is it mostly self-study when you’re not flying, or is there a list of things you’re meant to be doing? I’d love to see some of you share what your days were like going through your training.


I am sure some current or former students will be on soon to share their perspective, but I’ll give you my quick take.

ATP is primarily a self-study program, hence the accelerated syllabus. You will have access to a student extranet account. That’s where all of your self-study lessons will be. Your instructor will also schedule ground lessons with you to verify that you are retaining the information, but it is mostly on you to hold yourself accountable. Take a look as this for more info: What does an ATP student need to do to be successful?

Each CFI may have their own style, but what I usually saw was CFIs would create their students’ schedules the day before based on weather, aircraft availability, and where each student was in the program. It is not expected that each student be at the training center until their lessons began, but it is expected that each student be available at a moments notice as things can and do change.



A typical day can be different from Student to student from day to day.
Your schedule will depend on a few things: how motivated (independent) you are as a student. If you’re a student that is pretty self motivated, you instructor may only schedule you a flight knowing that you will stick around the training center and sit in on grounds and study on your own. If you’re not driven in your time management or just not sure how to use your time in the beginning, your CFI’s can make your schedule pretty straight forward, flight in the morning, lunch break, Grounds in the afternoon or sim.
A second factor that can change your schedule is aircraft and equipment availability. Instructors schedule out in a “perfect scenario”, as if every airplane is available, the weather is feasible to fly and the sims are open. However, not every day will things work out to accomplish the scheduled item.
A third factor that can effect your schedule is the other students your instructor has. You may be your instructors only student, and if so that’s great. But most of the time they will have 1 or two other students. That’s why it’s so important to not be late, don’t no show, etc. because it can have a ripple effect on your instructors entire day and effect your flight time or grounds in the afternoon from a late show in the morning.


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Your days as a student will really vary depending on where you are in the program. There will be some portions that will be classroom setting with regular hours, then others that will be far more dynamic and be based on weather, airplane availability, etc. Also, weekends can be planned to be off, but those that want get ahead usually fly weekends and sometimes weather dictates it.

I remember one day when I was in the commercial phase of training, it has been awful weather and my CFI and I had given up on flying for the day. I went back to the apartments and was studying, then the front went through faster than we expected and he called me to come back to the airport. We had one of the most amazing flights I have ever had, you could see the front passing off to the east and the clearest air behind it. I still think about that flight.


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As a recent graduate, I can vouch what everyone said is true and to the T.

When I was a student I had prepared every day as if I was flying, whether it was a sim session or flight event, studying the night before for what was to be expected of me. During your training you will get modules at certain phases of the program that are to be completed self-study, depending on your instructor and how they teach, they may do virtual (because of covid) grounds and review the material or wait until an AATD session. During the off days I spent most of the day relaxing giving myself me time because I worked extremely hard on the days I had to do flight events; though, I did review material, but not extremely heavy.

You can expect to have a schedule days in advance to see what is upcoming and because weather changes constantly, you may have to fly on weekends or on a day you thought you’d be free. There was a day I got called by my lead at 11:00 am on a weekend as I was out walking around the apartment complex asking if I would be interested to fly at 12:30 pm, I immediately ended my walk and met him at the training center pre-flighted and all before he got there; we needed an extra flight for the training center.

One big advantage I found compared to others in the program that I came in with all my writtens completed, so I used the time (that they would be studying for the written) to practice maneuvers in the simulator or prepare for a checkride when no one else was at the training center on the weekends. This paid off as I completed the program with a 6/6 checkride first-time pass rate (I came in credit-private). There are tons of student experiences throughout this forum, I highly recommend going through a couple and seeing what it’s like during training.


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Thanks everyone for the responses. It all sounds about how I pictured it: that I have to be in the driver’s seat of my schedule most of the time and making sure that I’m motivated to get the work done on my own outside of what the instructor’s responsible for.