Real Answers from Real Pilots

What is the best ATP flight school location for building instructor hours?

Pheonix, Denver, Arlington/Dallas, Atlanta, Jacksonville.

Check above places. These locations are what I am considering for training. they include Maintenance centers, multi-engine, and CFI.

I need to choose a place. From your perspective, what would be the best location to go to school for and build instructor hours as fast as possible. This would probably mean locations with more student turnover? more planes to fly? Better opportunity to fly a plane as an instructor. My reason for this is to join United Aviate and get my 750 instructor hours required for joining the program.

Please, if you guys know the good location this is what i’m looking for. I’m actually from Dallas. I know the ATP center there in Arlington is brand new. This is where I would like to go to, since it is my residency. But I really want to fast track it. If i have to move to another location that provides a faster route for instructor hours, that’s all I need. I don’t need anything else. Just a way to fast track that’s all.

Also, how long would it take to make 750 instructor hours? If you did it full time.

Thanks!

Brian,

All of those are large locations that will have a lot of activity at them. If it were me and I lived in Dallas, I would chose to work there, especially if I could live at home and save a few dollars.

A wise CFI once told me that: “We are not here to build time for the airlines. We are here to provide the best quality instruction possible. If we do that, the flight time will follow.” Trust me, I understand the desire to get to the airlines quickly, but it is about more than just building hours. The airlines are looking for quality hours, they know when somebody has just rushed through their hours versus when quality hours have been built.

As for the hours, Aviate’s website states that they require 750 hours at a partner school (like ATP), but you will still need 1,500 total time before going to a regional airline.

Being an ATP instructor is a full time position. I would expect to fly around 75-80 hours per month, but your mileage may vary. Also keep in mind that while you may train at a certain location, that does not necessarily mean that you will be able to instruct at that same location.

Chris

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Brian,

Ok this question gets asked frequently so I’m going to finally reveal the BEST ATP location. Ready? (Drum roll) The Best ATP location IS… whichever location works best for Brian. IF there was a best location ATP could close all their other locations and save themselves a ton of money because everyone would just want to go there. It’s really like asking which is the best McDonald’s! They all have the best fries on the planet and that’s the point. ATP provides the best training and equipment throughout their network of locations. Sure bigger locations are busier but there’s also more instructors there. ATP tries to ensure every instructor has an equal opportunity to build time. When I attended EVERYBODY wanted to instruct at Jax. It was the biggest and busiest at the time AND there was a 6mos backlog to get there. No one wanted TTN (it was one of the smallest) but it was close to home and there was a slot available immediately. I got to the airlines faster than all those people waiting for Jax. Further there is zero guarantee you’ll get to instruct at the location you train at.

Again the best location is the location that works best for you. As Chris said it’s not a race. Thinking about it as if it is will not help you gain favor not do well in training. Focus too much on the speed, bust a few checkrides and you’ll end up at the worst location, which is home on your couch wondering how you’re going to build your time without an instructor position. Airlines hire well trained experienced professionals, not the guy who got there the fastest.

Adam

i’ll about $180k saved up by end of december. Is this enough to get through ATP airline pilot program, fly as an instructor, get through united Aviate and United Express while doing an online college degree? I just got accepted into Embry Riddle, and will begin classes now. So I have a few months of credit building before January.

But I want to do this soon instead of waiting 2 years. So I can get my seniority sooner than if I just waited 2 years to do college, then have more saved.

Leaving my job is risky. I have 15 years experience as a radio technician, 6 years military. Once I leave my job, I can’t go back. I’m hoping $180k is good enough to get through everything.

Brian,

You seem to be really stressed about the financial burden you will incur once you leave your job. You have to keep in mind that most students finance their training because they don’t have enough in savings to cover the cost.

When I signed up for the program I was 25. I had less than $5000 in savings. I secured a loan with Sallie Mae with an adjustable interest rate. When I finished the program it was up to 9.125%. I lived at home while in the program. Then I moved into Student/Instructor housing when I became a CFI. I budgeted my life around $2000/mo. I had two credit cards that I used to pay for expenses. I paid my credit cards off every month (most of the time).

When I had about 900 hours, I interview for Horizon’s Pilot External Development Program (aka Tuition Reimbursement). They started sending Sallie Mae checks to help cover the cost my my monthly payments. I was able to cover the remaining balance of each payment, but nothing more. I don’t believe I started making payments on my principle until I became a first officer at Horizon.

When I finally made it to Horizon, they handed me a check for $10000 ($6000 after taxes). That entire check paid off my credit card balances and my taxes for the prior year. I moved from CA to WA into a bedroom of a retired Alaska employee’s home across the street from the airport. I rented from her for a few months to help get myself on my feet. I refinanced my loan down to a 5% interest rate.

Fast-forward to today, I am 32, married (July 2020), with a kid on the way, no CC debt, 800+ credit score, earning 5th year Captain pay, and my student loans will be paid off no later than 2027.

I’m sharing this with you to give you some perspective. We’ve all made sacrifices. We all took the same risk. If you’re having doubts about your success in the program, there are ways to resolve that skepticism. Like I mentioned in my other post on your other thread, some start with one rating at a time until they feel ready. Others do the Flex Track. Some need a few intro flights. It all just depends on the individual.

Tory

Brian,

Obviously we have no idea as to your personal finances or your expenses? The 9mos at ATP not working will cost you approx $100k. After that you will be earning money as a flight instructor (figure in the mid to high $20k). Will that plus the remaining $80k support you and pay for Riddle for 2yrs? That’s some math you’ll need to do but as long as we’re on the subject I do have a couple of questions?

First you say you’re going to start classes “now”. Are you going to try and bang out a semester first and then take a break? I’m asking because I’m hoping you’re not planning to do college and ATP at the same time as that would be a HUGE error. While I see getting through this first is clearly your priority (which it shouldn’t be), a misstep or 2 could seriously derail your career. ATPs accelerated program is extremely challenging and will require a full time commitment. You also want to do well in college. United not only wants a degree but they want to see a respectable GPA. The expression better late than never comes to mind.

Second if finances are a concern I’m curious if you investigated any other online programs? While Riddle is a fine institution it’s far from economical.

I’d give both some thought.

Adam

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Hey Tory. I think I already like you. You seem to click with me. I can tell you are a hard working type. I will consider doing the fast track option. United is a dream airline for me. i can travel to the phhilippines with them. i just hope i don’t bump into some strict interview where they are requiring to get a bachelors degree even though their websites says high school or GED to apply.

i’m pretty lucky to have riddle. it’s an aeronautics degree, allows me to get into some airlines knowledge. my joint service transcripts knock about 9 credits. i hear ATP certificates can knock off about 30 credits. so it’s not a big factor for me. i know not to take school during ATP. but i still need to retain my admissions there otherwise it will expire and i have to do it again. so maybe 1 class a year. something like that.

lastly, i want to join united but am worried of being rejected for an interview with aviate in case they favor a degree during applying.

Thanks, Brian!

Again, just reach out to United via the United Aviate website about the bachelors degree. They’re your best resource for that question. It shouldn’t matter who you have for the interview. They either require a degree or they don’t.

Tory

Brian,

We have no idea what your financial situation is and what obligations you have, I suggest talking a good long look at your finances before making decisions.

As for the college degree, United very clearly states that it is required, why would it be any different for you? I do not know a single pilot that has been hired at a major airline without a college degree, not one. The airlines are going to hand you the figurative keys to a multi million dollar jet that represents hundreds of millions of dollars with of liability to them, they want somebody with a college education up there flying it.

Just a small thing, but I would strongly encourage you to work on capitalization in your writing, particularly the word “I”. The airlines want somebody that will represent them well and proper writing is part of that.

Chris

Brian,

Right now the Aviate (and all the cadet programs) are on a pandemic hold but they will be back and up and running soon. When they do there’s no question they’ll look at pilots with degrees first because ultimately that’s what they want. If you are rejected so what? Are you done? I hope not.

The reality is ATP grads have been getting hired by the airlines for decades, long before Aviate or any other flows were created. You say you want to fly for United. While it’s great to have a goal what if UA suffers some sort of setback and they’re not hiring, flow or otherwise, but Delta is. Would you not go to Delta? If I’ve learned anything it’s best to be open to opportunities in this industry. Things can and do change. In the late 90’s-early 00’s Continental had a flow program with CoEx. Things went south after 9/11 and there were many pilots who were counting on that flow and actually passed on other opportunities. Next thing they knew Continental started hiring again but was taking pilots from other Regionals first. Long short these guys end up on the back side of the wave which is not where you want to be. So yes I would definitely apply to Aviate but I would never put all my eggs in one basket nor be too upset if you don’t get into Aviate on the first go. You can always apply again.

Adam