Real Answers from Real Pilots

ATP vs Embry Riddle

Hello, My name is Mrunal Matadar and I’m currently a junior in High School. I was wondering if going to an aviation college is worth it. I realize that going to a school like Embry Riddle would help cut down my hour requirements for the ATP license from 1500 to 1000, but is that 500 hours really a big deal. My current plan was to go to a 4 year college and get a bachelors in maybe business or finance and then attend a fast track program like ATP. Even though I would get a 500 hour decrease from programs at Embry Riddle, I wouldn’t be guaranteed a flight instructor job to get the reach my hour requirements like ATP does. In your guy’s opinion which is a better path?
Thank you

Hello Mrunal and welcome,

I’m obviously a fan of ATP’s which is why I’m here. It’s where I did my training and felt it was my best option. Personally I like your thinking. There’s no question Riddle is a great school and offers excellent training. That said it wouldn’t be my choice if I were in your position and I’ll tell you why. First they’re VERY expensive. Money might not be a factor in your case but spending tens or even hundreds goes against my grain. You can get a great education AND do your flight training for a considerable amount less. Second you’re right about the 500hrs. People make a big deal about the time savings and your really only talking about 6 mos to build that extra time AND as you point out if you don’t get an instruct position it could take you infinitely longer to build that 1000hrs than the 1500 with ATP. I also completely disagree with the FAA in that extra 500hrs of actual flight time is much more valuable to you as a pilot than any aviation degree. Last I believe it’s always a good idea to have a “Plan B”. While I have no doubt if your desire is to be an airline pilot you’ll be successful but people do change their minds, get injured or just bored. If all your eggs are in the aviation basket you’re kinda stuck.

That’s my 2 cents. Hope it helps?

Adam

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Mrunal,

You are correct in that going to a college with an approved aviation program will reduce the hours that you need to be hired at the airlines and 500 hours is not insignificant, but I have to tell you that the cost of Embry Riddle’s program would make it unattractive to me.

I actually did exactly what you are talking about doing. I went to a four year college, graduated and then went to ATP for all of my licenses. It worked out pretty darn well for me and gave me an educational background to fall back onto if I should ever need to.

Chris

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Thank you so much, I really appreciate your input. Its nice to get an opinion from someone who has been through this process. I’m most likely going to end up going through my first path of going to a normal college and then ATP.

Thank you both for taking the time to respond. Really appreciate it. Out of curiosity what airlines do you guys fly for.

Anytime, we are happy to help. I am with United Airlines and Adam is with Hawaiian Airlines, prior to that we were both with ExpressJet.

I have a good friend who attended Riddle at their main campus in Prescott AZ, he wasn’t able to finish his flight ratings because the flying sessions were so spread out he was losing too much between lessons and they have a set schedule as far as how many hours you should get to reach each rating. He had his private (and glider) when he began but only completed instrument while at school, halfway through his commercial he was forced to switch programs from the flight program to the engineering program, he now works for Boeing…writing specifications manuals and never flying anything for work OR for fun. He also has a very large student loan.

If you have a bachelors already I’m confused why you’d want to not have any chance of a guaranteed instructor position, no option for tuition reimbursement, and spend longer on your training delaying the possible time you could get into an airline? Is there some other reason you want to spend extra time and money getting another degree (and not getting any of the aforementioned benefits) when it’s not required by ANY airline that I’m aware of?

I guess I just don’t see any upside to doing it that way, and a bunch of possible downsides… I also know from experience that doing your flight training spread out over time takes a lot longer to learn the material, my private took well over a year flying 1-2x per week. I eventually bit the bullet and started flying AT LEAST 2x per week, preferably 3x when I got close to checkride just so I would be fully ready.

Thomas,

No need to apologize and no ones worried. You need to decide what route is best for you. There’s no question Embry Riddle is a fine school with a great reputation and a high success rate. Honestly I’d say 90% of the pilots I know are either ATP, Riddle or military. When I started my research Riddle was one of the schools I looked at. As I said great school, great reputation and program. Like you I looked at their Masters program and after talking to some pilots I came to a few conclusions which led me away from ER in favor of ATP. First while I believe education is a wonderful thing and NEVER wasted, having a Masters degree would do nothing for me professionally as a pilot as far as getting hired or moving up the ranks. Second ER ain’t cheap. At the time the program would’ve cost me $125k which was more than double ATP’s at the time. Finally and most important (for me) was the time factor. ER was a 2yr program vs ATP’s 3 mos. That meant at least 1.5 more time training and less time at the airlines. As for the instructor position, things may have changed but at the time students who did well(?) would be offered positions however at the time these was a 2yr backlog of pilots waiting for positions (they were very honest about it which I appreciated).

While ER is a University I don’t believe you have to “qualify” for admission?

Your father is right. There’s nothing wrong with weighing all options and I always recommend people do their research. This is your career, your life and of course your money. Check them out and see. Either way you can still bother me with your questions :slight_smile:

Adam

Adam,

That’s my understanding as well about their instructors, if you do well they MAY offer you a position but they had a backlog of former students wanting to instruct when my friend went there as well.

Thomas,

If you think about it, at ATP the students are training constantly and consistently whereas at Riddle they schedule your flights around the rest of your school schedule (possibly only once or twice a week), clearly ATP needs more instructors to provide that amount of flight instruction. Hence the guaranteed position.

Thanks Adam & James,

I specifically warned my dad about Riddle costing a LOT more money than ATP. I had to ask anyways this is all quality information. Again, as my dad suggested I do, i’m keeping all options open at this time while still leaning in favor of ATP. Either way, my parents are willing to fund the entire process, something i’m EXTREMELY fortunate for!

Obviously people do suceed at Riddle and if you wanted to get both flight ratings and a degree at the same time they do have an excellent reputation as Adam said, but I personally believe it could be even more challenging than the fast pace at ATP, and if you don’t actually need the extra degree why pay the extra money and take the extra time between training flights? I really wish I had taken a faster approach to my PPL than flying a couple times per week, I would have retained a lot better between lessons.

Thomas,

In my experience at both a Regional and a Major my GPA, field of study nor anything else degree related ever came up nor was it even asked on the application. Do you have a Degree, Where and When? Box checked, next question. And that’s a REALLY good thing, if it had I’d probably be cleaning the plane rather than flying it! :slight_smile:

Adam

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Thomas,

I think that looking into other schools and options is a great idea. Before you go, head over to the “Flying the Line” section of this forum and print out my “Questions For Any Prospective Flight School”. That list will give you a great way to compare different schools and helps to make sure that you are asking the right questions.

Chris

Contact ATP and ask if they’re offering free housing at any of their locations. They offered it to me at the Arlington, Texas location a few months ago. I would have jumped on it if I didn’t have a friend to stay with for free.

Thomas,

Yes certain university programs do qualify for a reduced 1,000hr R-ATP. Before we get too giddy I’m reasonably certain that to get that reduction you must complete a 4yr BA degree with the school. Anything less will not qualify so right off the bat you’re adding 3+yrs of training and you still haven’t started chipping away at those 1,000hrs. How much time will you save building 500 less hrs? Well that depends on how many hours you’re building per month. ATP instructors average 75hrs a month (many build more). After you graduate from Riddle as I said there’s waiting list to instruct. How long? Gotta ask them? More important if their pilots are only building 50hrs per month well that’s the same 20mos to build 1500 at 75 per so you’re not saving anything. Again I’m not putting down Riddle but if you’re looking to save time you’re looking in the wrong place.

As for airlines requirements vs FAA that’s simple. FAA determines what’s legal, the airlines can set whatever mins they like. You can never go below the legal requirements but you can always exceed. It’s like you the question you asked about college admissions requirements. Some schools just require a high school diploma but if Harvard wants a 4.0 GPA and 1600 on the SATs that’s their right.

Adam

I’d just like to add something. I’m currently in high school and have been looking at colleges with aviation programs and my top two are Purdue and western Michigan. They both have professional pilot programs that qualify for the R-ATP and have hours cut down to 1000. I talked to both schools and the people there said that students graduate with anywhere between 250-800 hours depending on how much they decide to fly. The curriculum is set up so that the first two years at the school, you are getting your licenses and ratings and the last two are spent instructing either at the school or an off campus location, that’s your choice. They also said ideally their goal is that you reach the 1000 hour mark in a few months to a year max after you graduate.

I agree that it’s annoying but it’s not just at ATP locations. When I went to do my PPL checkride in April of last year I had to wait a month to get in then it got delayed by weather for another two weeks.

3 hour drive to the airport from school. One hour flight to the dpe. All of that following the bad scheduling issues lol

I believe he graduated about 3-4 years ago…

I wonder if Embry Riddle’s C.F.I’s also have the option of interviewing early with an Airline and getting some reimbursement like ATP :smirk: