Real Answers from Real Pilots

Best Options Between Graduation and Regional Airline


(Chris Hartis) #1

Hello,

I have a couple of questions regarding what options ATP graduates have following the program. I know that ATP offers a guaranteed full time job as a CFI (depending on where the need of ATP is at the time). On this note, I have a couple of questions…

  1. Does ATP cover the cost of relocation? I know that they provide a place to live for only $350 a month, but do they also provide your airfare to and from the base or a rental car to get from your apartment to work?
  2. Based on people reading this who have been CFI’s for ATP, how hard was it for you to survive as a CFI for ATP? I know several people who have gone through ATP and have said that becoming a CFI somewhere else is an all-around better way to go. The people that I talked to sounded a little bit jaded, so I wanted to hear some other opinions!
  3. My biggest concern is that I will not be able to fly as much as I want to. I am a very motivated and driven person so I would have no problem flying as much as humanly possible seven days a week. Have previous ATP CFI’s had problem with getting the hours that they want?

This leads into my next topics of curiosity, which is “do a lot of ATP pilots get other kinds of flying jobs besides becoming a CFI to get to their 1500 hour mark?”

I currently have my PPL and 250 Hours PIC, so by the time that I start and graduate ATP I assume that I will have around 500 hours TT. With this many hours at graduation, would it be better for me to search for other kinds of pilot jobs besides just being a CFI? I know that most of the people who respond on this forum at 100% PRO-ATP, but I’m really hoping to get some honest opinions whether positive or negative towards the ATP CFI route given my situation.

Thank you for your help!

Chris


(Tory) #2

Chris,

  1. Not that I’m aware of. It’s on you to relocate and transport yourself to and from the training center.

  2. Living in student housing and receiving tuition reimbursement, I had no problem making ends meet.

  3. There was always flying to be had, whether it was with my students or another CFI’s. We worked together to get things done.

Teaching is the best way to build time because it forces you to retain the knowledge and skills you’ve learned and you will continue to learn more. I suggest everyone become a CFI for at least a year. If you are interested in other kinds of flying, Ameriflight is always a good choice. I would stay away from things like banner towing, jump pilot, traffic watch as these are all conducted in day VFR and you could possibly fall short of some of the flight time requirements for your ATP.

Tory


#3

Chris,

Let’s get to your questions:

  1. No. The perks you mention are what senior executives at Fortune 500 receive, not entry level flight instructors.

  2. I survived just fine as an ATP CFI. Now I certainly wasn’t buying any houses, new cars, or dinners at the Rainbow Room, but I was able to make my loan payments and meet my other bills.

  3. Being a flight instructor is not just about flying, it is about providing quality instruction and that means in addition to flying, a fair amount of time spent in the simulator and providing ground instruction. I flew about 80 hours per month as a CFI.

Sure, there are other pilot jobs out there, but not many. Flight instruction consistently proves to be the fastest path possible to the airlines, but it is worth taking a look around.

Chris


(Chris Hartis) #4

Hi Chris and Tory,

Thank you for taking the time to respond. Just for some clarification. My questions regarding relocation and affordable living were meant for AFTER ATP graduation, not during/before your training. I just got off the phone yesterday with Kirk from the ATP finance team and he told me that ATP offers housing for all ATP CFI’s for $350 a month. That is what I was referring to with the living cost…

In regards to the relocation, I have read other posts on this website about other CFI’s being asked to move to different schools across the country to fill a need at one of ATP’s locations. The person making the post said that ATP paid for his airfare to move as well as a rental car. I just wanted to verify if this was something common or if this was a one time only thing for this ONE ATP CFI.

I have heard some things about Ameriflight, but have not yet looked into them. Based on what you two have heard, why would an ATP graduate want to go with Ameriflight once they hit their 500 hours instead of being a CFI?

My intention for these questions are to explore all avenues after graduation. Thank you gentleman!

Chris Hartis
N2675V, KSFF


(Tucker) #5
  1. Recently the need for instructors at certain locations has caused atp to offer greater ground gaurentee as well as paying for relocation. I haven’t heard of anyone getting flown there and getting a rental car, they usually just pay for gas/hotels.

  2. I make more money at atp than I thought I would. As a single guy in his 20s with a car payment and student loans, I’m able to live pretty comfortably. I also live in housing and it’s the best deal around for $350 a month.

  3. Before I started, I thought flying 8 hours a day everyday would be awesome. But you don’t realize how long a 8 hour flying day is. You have flight briefs and debreifs, so figure with that and time between flights you are looking at a 10-12hr day. I do it from time, but every day would be difficult. 6 hours seems to be about the sweet spot.
    The hours vary. For example, I had 3 checkrides this week, so I had 3 very long days and only flew 2-3 hours each day. Next week my students that passed will be starting on instrument so I will have more flying than I know what to do with. Also, when other instructors go out of town or need people to fly with their students there are hours that was as well.
    I am very happy with my workload, but like I said, sometimes you have too much flying, sometimes you don’t have much.


(Tory) #6

My answer to your question about transportation after the program remains the same. As a CFI for ATP, it is your responsibility to get yourself to and from the training center, living in discounted housing doesn’t make a difference.

As for base assignments, I’m not sure what would happen if you got based some place other than the base you trained at or lived closest to. I got lucky and was based in KSAC, where I’m from. However, I was asked to assist the KRAL and KHWD locations. When I taught at KRAL, my airfare to/from KRAL was paid for by ATP and I was provided a rental car. KHWD was close enough to drive, but I was reimbursed for gas. I hope that helps answer your question.

To answer your question about Ameriflight vs ATP, because they want to. Some pilots aren’t cut out to be CFIs, some simply want a different experience…hours are hours and there’s more than one way to meet the ATP mins required by FAR 61.159.

Tory


#7

Chris,

Just to chime in I think Tucker nailed it best. EVERYONE thinks they want to fly as much as is legal and humanly possible UNTIL they actually do it. Flying 6-8hrs a day 6-7 days a week is not only grueling it’s unsafe which is why the FAA sets duty limits. Further saying you want to fly as much as you want reminds me of the people on game shows who say they “really want to win!”. Guess what? EVERYONE wants to fly a lot, build their time fast and get hired at a Regional. EVERYONE.

To that end I do disagree with Tory as far as “hours being hours”. While that’s true IF your only goal is getting hired BUT if you’d actually like to improve you pilot skills and be a better, more competent airman then no, hours aren’t just hours. There’s quantity and there’s quality. Not saying you have to flight instruct to get quality hours BUT sitting right seat in a plane that’s perfectly happy with one pilot, just slinging gear while legal, is not going to improve your skills.

Adam


(Chris Hartis) #8

Tucker,

Thank you for sharing you experience with ATP. This really puts things in perspective for me. I am in the exact same boat. Single, in my early 20’s, car+school loans etc. I’m uplifted to hear that you have not been struggling to eat as an ATP CFI.

Tory,

Thank you for your input about cost of living/ATP coverages. This definitely makes more sense now. I was worried that ATP might ask me to move across the country after I graudate and not pay for my airfare/a vehicle while I’m there. It sounds like if they ask me to move from coast to coast then I can expect some type of relocation assistance compared to if I was assigned at the base where I trained.

Adam,

Appreciate your candid spirit. You are obviously very passionate and I like that! Before reading your comments I never thought about the “quality” of hours that I would be getting at ATP compared to sitting right seat at another airline like Ameriflight. Do you know if most of the CFI training at ATP is dual engine time? Or is most of it single engine? This would also make a big impact on my decision following graduation.

Best,

Chris H


#9

Chris,

You’ll find it to be a mix of single and multi time but the majority will definitely be single. I believe most pilots accrue about 3-400 hrs ME of the 12-1300 total they build instructing.

Again not dissing Ameriflight. Just do your homework and see what type of flying you’ll actually be doing.

Adam


(Tory) #10

The majority of your flying will be single engine. Regionals only require 25 hours of multi now. So, ATP has adapted by taking some of the multi time and replacing it with more single engine time where it was needed most at no extra cost. This benefits the student by providing them with more flight time to prepare for the quick add on check rides.

Tory


(Sergey Kireyev) #11

My current instructor logged 160 hours the first month I was at ATP. Weather was good, and students are always aplenty at my location. He is always one of the first people to show up (around 6-6:30 am) and one of the last to leave. Frequently 6 days a week. It’s a really tough schedule but he makes it work somehow. Lots of people say they are motivated and then “fade” as the reality sets in, but he is my role model for what is possible if you work hard and stay positive.

We have had a couple of recent graduates and CFIs that are on this forum forgo the time build to 1,500 and go to Ameriflight. Different strokes for different folks. When you get to a point that you’re close to finishing up the program you will get to meet and receive feedback from a broad range of people that were in your shoes only one to two years ago. Some forgo instructing because they didn’t like the choice of locations that was offered to them, some just have a job lined up straight out of CFI school (like aerial surveying).

Please don’t take this the wrong way, but your situation and story are not unique. Every two weeks we have students from 18 years old and into their 40s walk through the doors and start training. Debt, loans, living arrangements, etc. Everyone seems to make it work. Many want assurances that somehow their worries can be put to rest, and most (myself included) are trying to plan their future career moves before even starting training. Truth is by the time you’re done with the program your choice of location may not be the hottest one or best fit, that surveying gig may go bust because drone surveys are taking over and Ameriflight may change their hiring policies tomorrow. What then? Give up or adapt?
No plan survives first contact with the enemy. I see that on my example almost every day. I chose ATP because I have no time to waste. I did the best I could with planning and now the only things I plan for are my next program milestones — one at a time.

Started the program as a 0 hour student September 4. Had a couple of weeks of delays due to weather and being under the weather. Private SE Initial checkride scheduled for November 9. 2 months 5 days for my first FAA “ticket” if I pass.


(Pat Tarasek) #12

I have relocation question. I’m actually a parent of an ATP student who is preparing to be an instructor. He has his final checkride this week and then will need to select a location and go through the ATP instructor training. He is in Florida, currently in Tampa, but he did most of his training in Ft. Lauderdale and has been to Jacksonville and Orlando. He would like to stay in Florida, but his choices for locations have been Chicago, Sacramento, Arizona, and Dallas. All of these locations are quite far from Florida and my son is not interested in moving across the country. He’s mentioned this several times to the person in charge of locations, but there does not seem to be any option for remaining in Florida. At this point, my son’s remaining option is to leave ATP because he does not want to move to a location that is not sensible for him. I hate to see him leave the program at this point, but I understand his frustration. Any suggestions ??


(Tory) #13

Pat,

I understand your concern about relocating. However, my only suggestion would be to see it from a professional aviation perspective. This is how airlines work. Each airline has several different bases. Generally speaking, of those bases new hires get assigned to the base that the airline needs staffed the most. New hires may or may not get a say in the matter. All can request their preferred base, but seniority and and the number of available openings dictate when a pilot will be awarded their preferred base request.

Since ATP’s Airline Career Pilot Program is designed by airline pilots for airline pilots, the program prepares students and CFIs for what to expect when they get hired on at a regional airline, which always includes the possibility of having to relocate.

ATP has to ensure that they deliver their promise of providing the best accelerated flight training platform to all of their students at all of their 38 training centers. This inevitably requires ATP to staff the training centers with the most vacancies, which might not be someone’s preferred training center.

If your son is this far along in the program, he should finish it. Quitting now because he won’t get his preferred training center is not a valid reason. His CFI certificates are valid anywhere in the US that provides flight instruction, including himself if he has ambitions to offer flight instruction under his own name. No one is obligated to instruct for ATP. A handful choose not to every year and that’s okay. People have their reasons and they should do what’s best for themselves.

Your son has time to consider ATP’s offer to instruct for them. He may determine later that this is an exciting opportunity to gain some valuable experience by training in a new environment, and have access to all of ATP’s resources and regional airline connections, which includes the Tuition Rembursement Program, or say, “You know what? Being in Florida is more important to me. I’m going to submit some applications to some local flight schools and instruct for one of them instead.”

Tory