Why so expensive?

If ATP was created by pilots who know the already high cost of flight training, then why did they create a FOR PROFIT business?

Why not PAY IT FORWARD to the next generations and instead of making profits offer lower cost training an make it a Non-Profit business?


ATP is the largest, most successful, flight school in the nation. More pilots are produced by ATP than any other school, anywhere. Students train in the newest equipment in as little time as humanly possible to propel them to the airlines sooner than any other program can. Students and CFIs are also offered multiple opportunities to secure their position with a regional airline before they are eligible to fly for one, and Tuition Reimbursement is often included to help offset the loan payments.

Yes, ATP is a for-profit company, but all of the statements made above is their way of paying it forward. Flight school is expensive. That’s not a mystery. I don’t know of any non-profit flight school so it doesn’t seem fair to shine a light on ATP for that.

If ATP were a nonprofit they’d have to rely on donations. Securing donations as a Flight School is virtually impossible which is why there are so few flight training scholarships that exist. Simply put, it’s a hard sell to get someone to invest in a student pilot that hasn’t proven that they have what it takes to be successful.

I believe ATP made the right choice here and beyond that they’re doing everything they can to give their successful graduates every opportunity to succeed.


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I’m not an owner or a founder but I’ll take a stab at this.

First off ATP is not expensive. If you do your research you’ll see ATPs pricing is actually quite competitive.

As for the non-profit question, again I can’t really speak for them but I do have a question for you? If you become a pilot will you using your licenses and ratings to solely fly missionary and Angel flights? Do you want to get paid to instruct? Do you dream of having a nice home? Chances are one of the reasons you want to be a pilot is the quality of life this career can provide. Why should the founders of ATP be any different? Why shouldn’t they be entitled to provide an excellent quality of life for their families? These are people who recognized there was a problem with the existing programs and created a better one. Why shouldn’t they profit from it? The paying it forward aspect comes from their sharing their decades of knowledge and experience by creating this invaluable resource that allows the average Jane or Joe to realize their lifelong dream more efficiently than any other route. I can honestly say if it wasn’t for ATP I wouldn’t be where I am today and I’m incredibly and eternally thankful to them. Further I would argue the reason they’ve been able to offer and expand this program for over 35yrs to over 60 locations is because they’re not a non-profit. Newsflash, airplanes, sims, offices etc cost money and lots of it. I’ll bet when you do your training you’d like to do it in a shiny new plane rather than one from the 60’s held together by duct tape!

If you want to take up the fight against capitalism I suggest you stop using the internet to start with. Amazon, Twitter, etc etc etc. There are far greater offenses being perpetrated against the masses in the name of money. Don’t focus your angst on a few really talented really smart people who decided they did want to pay it forward and help others achieve what they had AND also pay their bills and take care of their families. There absolutely nothing wrong with that thinking. It’s called the American Dream and I for one applaud them for it.




ATP was founded by airline pilots, but that does not mean that they do not have families to provide for, houses to buy, college tuition to pay for, etc. ATP provides quality flight training at very competitive prices and in my humble option have paid it forward many times over.

Here is a fun fact, the CEOs of many non profits make huge salaries, check out this link: The Highest Paid Nonprofit CEOs | Cause IQ “Non profit” is not always everything that it is cracked up to be and is very different from a charity.




I appreciate your response.
While I may not agree with your perspective, I do suspect that many in positions similar to yours would share your sentiments.

In hindsight, I should confess my question really should not have been posed to ATP exclusively but rather to the flight training industry as a whole.

You see what I have come to find is that the flight training industry is not only built on the cornerstone of education but rather profitability. In my research there are not resources for flight training specifically other than a personal loan. There are no grants and scholarships are scarce and only available to a very select few and cover only a very very small portion of the cost.



I appreciate that you appreciate my position. While I don’t really appreciate yours, I will tell you what I’m hearing. “I want to me a pilot but it costs alot and no one will just hand me the money and that’s because the entire training infrastructure is based on greed”.

Here’s a couple of facts for you. Flying airplanes is expensive, really expensive. New airplanes are really expensive. Maintaining airplanes is really expensive. Insurance for airplanes is expensive. Fuel to fly airplanes is expensive. Oil for airplanes is expensive. Hangers and tie-downs are expensive. Next, want to know why there are no scholarships, grants, etc? Because unlike virtually every other professional vocation there is, flying requires certain physical components. The fact is some people simply can’t or shouldn’t be pilots. There is a relatively high failure compared to many industries so no, no one wants to just hand you $100k so you can give it a try. There are however Tuition Reimbursements offered by many Regional airlines. Thing is those are only available AFTER you demonstrate they’re not wasting their money and have successfully completed training. Despite what you might think, the vast majority of wannabe pilots aren’t independently wealthy nor do they have wealthy parents. What they do have is a very strong desire to fulfill a dream and attain what’s possibly the greatest job on the planet (and one that pays VERY well). A career that again can be accomplished by the average person, provided they are willing to work really hard and yes, invest some money in themselves and their own futures.

Fortunately for our industry there are plenty of people with the desire, who also understand that most things in life that have tremendous value are not just handed out and that’s what keeps ATP (and other flight schools) in business. And yes I hope VERY profitable. They deserve it. Why? Because while some people aren’t even willing to invest in themselves, they, as entrepreneurs, took a huge risk investing in others.


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Hi Chris,

I just want to add my two cents. I am mid-career and looking to switch from international business to aviation. I have been relatively successful in my other career, but had to work very hard to be so. It involved a significant investment up front in terms of time and money towards my education in the early years. However, it ultimately paid off, and I have enjoyed a nice lifestyle.

Now, as I prepare to move into aviation, I understand that there will be another significant investment in time and money. Flying, even a C-172, is expensive in terms of fuel, maintenance, and so forth. Add to that the need for qualified instructors who must make a living while they build hours, and the associated infrastructure with a flight school, and you have a very expensive operation.

I would ask you this, would you be willing to work for free for the 18-24 months it requires to gain the magic 1,500 simply to “pay it forward?” Or, do want a fair salary for the time, effort, and knowledge you will be imparting as you train future colleagues?

This is not a cheap industry to join, but if you believe the long-term benefits are worth it, then an upfront investment is what is required. I wish you the best of luck!