Real Answers from Real Pilots

Advice for future ATP Pilot

My 17 year old son began his IFR training at a local university (17 miles from our house) as a freshman this semester. It seems they are short of instructors because he is ready for his stage check and there is a line of students for similar checks. It will be 2 weeks Tuesday since he’s flown and still doesn’t have a check ride scheduled. Is this typical for a university with a BS in aviation? He’s trying to decide to stay there or purse another avenue for his ultimate goal of his ATP license. The tough part about changing is the close proximity of the school.

He did have his private ticket just after turning 17 and the school advisor says it will still take him four years to get the degree. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Robert,

I need to clarify if he’s waiting for a Stage Check or his Instrument Check Ride? If it’s his Stage Check then clearly the school is understaffed and while I’m not sure I’d leave, I’d definitely have a conversation. If however it’s his actual Checkride there is in fact a nationwide shortage of Designated Examiners and EVERYONE (regardless of if they’re training at a University or local flight school) has to be patient because the situation isn’t going to change any time soon.

The advisor is correct in that he won’t even be eligible for his ATP until he’s 21 so he’s got plenty of time. The fear is these are perishable skills and you don’t want him not flying for weeks before the ride. If it is in fact the schools staffing that’s the issue they should continue to allow him to fly (gradis) as they’re at fault for the delay. If it’s actually his Checkride and the FAA’s at fault there’s not much you can do and the situation won’t be better elsewhere.

Adam

Robert,

This is one of the many reasons that we argue against part 141 schools. They burden the students with unnecessary and expensive stage checks, when what really matters is the FAA checkride. Part 61 schools dispense with the stage checks and just focus on getting the student ready for the FAA checkride.

I find the kinds of delays that you are talking about to be absolutely unacceptable. I would strongly encourage looking into different schools.

Chris

He is in fact waiting for his instrument stage check. Yesterday evening, my son made the same statement regarding your thoughts about the need for continuous training and not just sitting and waiting.

ATP is one of our considerations. My only concern about going that route stems from advice from a friend that flies for a major freight carrier. He said he’s one of the lucky ones that has an AS vs the BS they want. He stated only 5% of their pilots have a less than a BS. Any thoughts about that matter would be appreciated.

Thank you both so much for your advice. I’ll certainly copy and send him the info. He doesn’t really use social media or I’d have him join here. But I will convey the info.

Robert,

Waiting that long for a stage check is completely unacceptable, is detrimental to your son’s flying skills and will end up costing you more money. Plus, if you are already off to this kind of start I have to wonder how the rest of the program will go.

Your friend is absolutely right in that your son will need a four year degree to work for the majors. ATP is not in place of a college education, it is in addition to.

I would strongly encourage your son to directly join the discussion on this website. He says that he wants to be an airline pilot, well this is an opportunity to speak directly to airline pilots in all phases of the career. We find that we are far better able to communicate with future pilots when they speak with us directly, versus indirectly.

Chris

Robert,

As Chris said there’s really no reason your son should be waiting this long for a stage check and he (and your friend are correct, he will need a 4yr degree to be successful. To be honest I’ve never been a fan of aviation degrees as a person is really putting all there eggs in one basket. While it seems clear that your son intends to be a pilot things change. Unfortunately medical issues some times emerge, the industry tanks or sometimes people just tire of it. In those cases it’s nice to have a Plan B. While the Majors require a degree they really don’t care about the field of study.

Regardless again I’d have a long conversation with the school and see if this is a temporary problem or something he can expect throughout. If it’s the latter and he likes the school otherwise perhaps a change in his Major and a look at ATP might be beneficial? If the school is really that convenient and they clearly need instructors perhaps he could teach there to build time after ATP if he’d prefer to be close to home.

Adam

I will strongly suggest that he join this forum. I do have one more question in the meantime. Does the college BS degree need to be in aviation, or perhaps another field?

Thank,

Rob

Sorry, I just saw this response. Please disregard my question about the aviation degree.

No worries :slight_smile:

He emailed ATP and he doesn’t meet any of their requirements to start there. He’s currently working on instrument and probably won’t have the required 80 total flight hours until sometime next semester. Therefore, he may as well complete his Instrument rating at the university since we’ll already have the tuition invested.

His other option is an out of state (neighboring) school with more planes and instructors. But that means out of state tuition.

Thanks so much for the advice.