Real Answers from Real Pilots

ATP Locations as a Flight Instructor

I finally got my FAA medical clearance and I am all set to sign up for ATP. My only last concern is where I will be working for ATP while getting my hours as a flight instructor for them. I have 3 young kids and I don’t want to be away from them for potentially a year. ATP are telling me that they can send me anywhere, and from there I need to put in for a transfer back to my home airport (Livermore, CA). I was wondering how long does the transfer process normally take, has anyone had experience with this, and are there any concerns I should be aware of?
Thanks,
Frank

Francis,

ATP will offer you a few locations, you can accept them or pass altogether. When I was first hired at ATP I worked at the FLL location, it took me two months to transfer to the former HEF location and then another two months to transfer to the former ORF location. Now of course, your mileage may vary and is dependent on a lot of different factors, but primarily on when instructors at your desired location move onto the airlines. I can’t imagine it taking a year, but I suppose that you never know.

Before you commit to being an airline pilot, I think you should look at all three of our various schedules, with your wife, and have a real discussion about whether or not she is up for this. We all are at different place in the industry, with Tory being a regional pilot, Adam flying international, and me flying mainline domestic, so we offer a very good view of what your schedules will be at different phases in your career. I would also have a very serious discussion with her about the need to move to wherever you are based. If your plan is to commute, it is a bad one and will involve a great deal of your time being wasted, when you could simply drive home to your family.

Chris

Chris,
Thank you for the detailed reply, I really appreciate it. I tried to look at the schedules but I couldn’t find them, is there a link on the site?
With regard to moving, I do live in the Bay Area, and with 3 major airports within an hour of my house (SFO, SJC, OAK), I was really hoping that I could find a base close to home. With 3 young children (2 from prior marriage) moving isn’t an option right now, and as my wife would be the primary breadwinner as I build up a new career, we will need to stay close to here for her job. Is this all too simplistic a viewpoint, and do I really need to be far more flexible?
Thanks,
Frank

Francis,

On the home page under categories look for schedules.

Sounds like you may be a commuter at some point whether it be sooner or later. The reality is this, there are ALOT of pilots living in the Bay area. You could luck out and get based there but chances are those bases are somewhat senior (due to demand). Many pilots commute. Definitely not fun but also very doable. Being flexible is key to being a happy pilot. Even if you get the base you want the job is full of delays, reschedules, getting days rolled, etc. Missing family events is the norm as is commuting for many pilots. If this sounds like a problem you should seriously consider if this is the career for you.

Adam

Frank,

Go to the main page where the list of sections is, scroll down and you will find the schedules section, or just click here: https://www.airlinepilot.life/c/schedules If you go to the main page, you will also see the Flying The Line section, which has some really good articles in it.

Living near an airport does to necessarily mean that there are pilot bases there. For example, while Alaska and American have very large presences in SFO, only United and Skywest actually have bases there. Only Southwest has a base in OAK and nobody has a base in SJC. Now there are several airlines that have bases in the LAX area, but you will be commuting to that. A lot of pilots commute, I have done it my entire career. However, if I had it to do over again, I would force the issue and move to a base as I have spent quite a bit of my life in airports, on days off, commuting. I am not trying to dissuade you from commuting, plenty of pilots do it, but we are straight shooters here and I want you to know exactly what you are signing up for if your plan is to commute.

Let’s take a four day trip that starts at 6am in LAX. Obviously you can’t get there in time in the morning, so you will have to fly down the night before, get a hotel room (or have a crashpad) and spend the night. Now, you don’t want to be exhausted for your trip, so you really need to be there by 6pm the night before, which means that you are probably leaving your house sometime around 3pm the day before your trip to get to work. Versus the guy who lives in base and simply wakes up early to get to work. Now maybe it is worth it to you to commute, many people think that it is, that is something you will have to discuss with your wife.

Here is a list of airline bases:

https://pilotjobs.atpflightschool.com/airline-domiciles/

Chris

@Chris, do all trips start in the early morning, requiring a commute the day before?

Mardee,

No, but it may take a while for you to gain enough seniority to have that
kind of control over your schedule. For the time being, all of my trips
start after 2pm.

Tory

All,
Thank you so much for the timely responses. I really have no concern with commuting within reason. I guess the commuting term is relative. For my last 3 years as an accountant for a large multinational, I was commuting 2-3x per month to mainly Western Europe or Rochester NY. So flexibility is not a problem for me, I would just like to ensure time at home with the family too, which I believe, this job will offer me despite the travel. I also understand that my schedule is not predictable, and I may miss events, and I am ok with that. Hopefully I don’t sound unrealistic in my expectations. I guess most people would be expecting to be commuting more starting out as a pilot, but over the past few years I have had many months with only 4-7 days at home in California.
I will look over the travel schedules and let you know if I have questions/concerns. I really appreciate all the help and guidance.

Glad to be of help. Let us know what other questions you have.

Chris