Real Answers from Real Pilots

ATP Career Pilot Program Pass Rate Question

Good day gentlemen,

I was thinking about the numbers yesterday, couldn’t help but wonder about the program pass rate? Everyone knows about the instructor job guarantee, but considering the program is around 275TT when you finish, and you need 1500TT for the ATP and airline employment, it would take 5 students (full zero time program) to get each instructor to their minimums… I understand that there will be dropouts, that some may not desire to instruct for ATP afterwards, and that ATP does offer other programs such as time-building, individual ratings, etc. but I am curious what the actual “average” rate of students starting the program and actually finishing/becoming ATP instructors is? 50%? 70%? 30%?

I understand that this is a complicated calculation to figure out exactly, just wondering if you guys could give a guess?


ATP’s rate for students completing the program is 80%. This number is for students who enter the program with no flight time. The pass rate for students entering the program already having the private pilot license is 90%, which makes sense as those students have already been vetted by the FAA and successfully passed a checkride.

Of course not everybody chooses to instruct for ATP, so the percentage of students becoming ATP instructors is lower.

Great question.


Good question, and I want to ensure it’s completely, and accurately answered. I represent ATP when I offer the following:

From October 2015 thru September 2016 (1 year), ATP graduated 404 CFIs from the Airline Career Pilot Program. Of those, 239 (59%) accepted ATP’s guaranteed instructor job.

We attribute this seemingly small percentage to the high demand for flight instructors not only at ATP, but across flight schools big and small nationwide. Also, a surprising number of students enroll in the ACPP with a plan to fly a family or corporate aircraft to build flight experience. (i.e. King Air)

Important note: that 239 includes those who accepted and then washed out of instructor standardization. As a prospective student, it should be important to you that not everyone who is guaranteed a job can ultimately perform above and beyond FAA CFI standards to ATP’s standards. Of those 239, 32 (13%) were not able to meet ATP standards and “washed-out”. We successfully assist these instructors with finding other CFI jobs because they are often still more qualified than other candidates, especially those who did the 100-ME track.

This is important to understand because:

  1. ATP is able to sustainably offer the “Guaranteed Instructor Job” because so many graduates have other opportunities already lined up, and our own attrition (CFIs going to Airlines) is currently 12 per month.
  2. ATP does not “fake” its guarantee numbers by subsequently washing-out instructors from standardization as evidenced by the near-90% success rate in standardization.

I appreciate that you’re running the numbers and thinking about these things. I hope this detailed response has been helpful.

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Thank you for the information, it’s good to see some actual numbers.

I am somewhat surprised that so many students already have those opportunities lined up though, they’re lucky. My connection to aviation was my grandfather, who was an airline pilot for Transamerica, Singapore Airlines, Philippine Airlines, the China National Aviation Corporation, and probably one or two I am forgetting since he flew from 1941-1981. He flew everything from initial training in an Aeronca Champ, Army Air Core Trainers, PBY Catalina, Curtis C-46, and every Douglas DC from the DC-2/3 over “The Hump” (50+ trips), to Numerous US domestic flights in the DC-10, MD-80, and 747. As you might suspect, we don’t have his flight logs from the 11 years he flew for the CIA in southeast asia…so I can’t comment on those airplanes or the 11,000 flight hours he spent in them.

Just as a follow up question for Justin, what percentage of ATP training hours or students attend for the individual/other programs offered by ATP and not the ACPP?


Apologies for the delayed response to your follow-up question. ATP is dedicated 100% to the Airline Career Pilot Program at this time. We rarely do ATP Certificate programs in Richmond and Austin to compliment the ATP CTP program offered by ATP JETS so pilots can get their actual Airline Transport Pilot Certificate after ATP CTP, without a Type Rating. This represents less than 50 of the 15,000 hours of flying we do each month.


Thanks for the response Justin, I understand that the option of getting the ATP independently (due to the CTP requirement and cost, as well as the lack of need now that regionals are in full hiring mode and willing to include it in their initial training) is pretty limited, did not realize it was that small though.


Hello Justin,
Great information and very helpful. I noticed on the ATP twitter page that ATP is welcoming just over 100 new students a month into the program in January and February. That would equate to just over 1300 new students coming in this year. Are your number of new students up substantially over the time frame you used in your previous discussion? You had shared that ATP graduated 404 CFI’s during that one year period. That would either equate to a 25% pass rate of new students or a 250% increase in new students over a couple of years ago. This could mean that word of the potential pilot shortage is getting out. Thanks again for your help.

Hi David -

We’ve recently posted some record big numbers to social media, and they are a big increase over 2015-16, which is when that group of CFIs would’ve started. The numbers work out somewhere in the middle. I posted some more info in this thread: