Real Answers from Real Pilots

Can I fly for a part 135 after I've reached 500 hours and still be a part of a cadet program?

(Jeff Hall) #1

I’m 35 and I’ve been in several management positions where I’ve had to train and lead individuals and teams, but I didn’t enjoy it (as hard as I tried) and I’m not so sure I was good at it (even though the results were always solid). Is it possible to try out the instructor gig until I hit 500 hours, then apply for a regional carrier/get hired/start accruing seniority/etc, and then fly for a part 135 until I reach 1500 hours and then go straight into the company I get hired at and receive all the tuition reimbursements/seniority/etc? Or do I have to stay with ATP and instruct to receive all of the benefits?

Hopefully that makes sense?



As far as I know you must remain an ATP instructor. Reason being that way the airline a) can keep track of your progress and b) have a reasonable idea of when to expect you. There are 135 carriers where you’ll build considerable time and others where you’ll fly 20hrs a month. If in fact that’s the route you’d like to take you could always forgo the tuition reimbursement and simply take it as a hiring bonus when you start with the Regional.


(Jeff Hall) #3

Perfect, thanks. Maybe I’ll just have to call ATP and get some clarification around that… And play it by ear when I get to that point.



I would stay very far away from any 135 carrier if I were you. The reality is that most of these low time jobs are not what they are cracked up to be, They can be dangerous, or not involve much flight time at all. The fastest, most proven track to the airlines is via flight instructing.


AA Cadet Academy
(Jeff Hall) #5

Even Boutique Air? I thought they had a really good reputation in the industry?



I am not familiar with Boutique Air, which should be indicative of something…


(Jeff Hall) #7

They’re actually a fairly large well-known 135 operation mostly in the Midwest and West coast flying mostly pc12’s. You’re actually the first over probably over 100 people I’ve talked to about them who didn’t know who they were.

I also know a bunch of reputable pilots who fly for them. Several of whom came back after flying for the regionals and majors.



Actually, I have heard of them, we had a student on here a few months ago that was working there.

I am not saying that they aren’t a good place to work, but I looked at their pay rates and can tell you that nobody in their right mind would leave a major airline to work there. Period. Even leaving a regional to work there is questionable, but to each their own.


(Jeff Hall) #9

My buddy flies for them and I guess a lot of folks who enjoy flying the PC 12 will do anything they can to fly them? I don’t even have my PPL yet so I wouldn’t really know. Just telling ya what I’ve heard.



Again, not knocking them, but nobody gives up several hundred thousand dollars a year because they like flying a PC-12. They might be a great place to start, but I sure wouldn’t want to stay there.




Your buds may enjoy flying the Pilatus but read some of the passenger reviews. Less than stellar.


(John P) #12

I don’t think he’s talking about flying for boutique instead of being an airline pilot. He’s talking about flying for boutique instead of being a flight instructor.

I think this is a valid opportunity. It falls in the same category as people who go to Ameriflight at ~500 hours.

The math comes down to the number of hours you’re going to get monthly. Boutique flies EAS routes on PC12 as you mentioned. One could argue that is better experience than flying 172s because it’s scheduled service, dual pilots, and usually into major-ish hubs from smaller airports that the airlines don’t service.

People I’ve talked to said you can count on 60-80 hours per month flying which may realistically line up with what you would average at a 141 school or ATP.

There’s historically been a negative view of single-engine turbine time. But I think the current market cares less, and you can arguably tell a better story flying scheduled passenger service in terms of applicable experience than you can instructing or flying cargo in a Cessna caravan.

Another PC12 operator you should look at if you’re interested is Tradewind Aviation. Based in CT, they fly scheduled service to Nantucket/Martha’s Vineyard/Hampton’s in the summer, and the Caribbean (based out of San Juan ) in the winter.



The above was the quote, that clearly is talking about flying for Boutique Air instead of the airlines.

We have discussed this on the forum before, but contrary to whatever tale the folks at Boutique Air are spinning, the PC-12 is a single pilot airplane and as such, it is not legal to log SIC flight time in it, regardless of what their insurance requirements are or even the airlines FAA certification. As such, most of that time building is not in fact valid flight time and could cause a serious issue when interviewing for an actual airline.

I have also heard of Tradewind Aviation, in fact one of our former forum members went to work there and left in just a few months as it was not what it was sold as. No surprise there. The fastest, most proven way to the airlines is flight instructing. End of story.



The original question was can you fly for a 135 operator and still get the Tuition Reimbursement to which the answer is no. It then somehow devolved into a battle of routes to the airlines. This is America, you ALL can do as you like and there certainly is more than one way to skin a cat. That said there’s a really good reason why the Regionals are spending most of their time and energy setting up alliances, reimbursement programs, pathways etc etc with flight schools (ATP and Riddle being the originals) vs the plethora of 135 companies. While yes the Regionals are desperate and yes if you have 1500hrs and a pulse you’ll most likely get hired the fact is Regionals are also suffering from the highest training bust rates in history. While you may get to wear epaulets and fly into “real airports” the fact is flight instructing improves and hones your skills much better than slinging gear in a single or even twin engine prop flying from A to B to A.

Once again it comes down what your goal is and for most it’s getting hired by a Regional and eventually a Major. The problem is while you will almost certainly get hired regardless of your route, washout of training and you’re entire career could get flushed. Hopefully you’ll get to keep the epaulets to wear on Halloween.


(Aaron Levy) #15

Another important factor is the tuition reimbursement is really not worth much, as it will be taken out of your initial sign on bonus anyways. And part 135 can pay more then flight instructing, and in some cases build hours faster. But it will defiantly pay more then being an instructor at ATP, of course it depends what company

(Aaron Levy) #16

Also, Chris mentioned you not being able to legally log the time. He is wrong about that, read section 9 this is published by the FAA and time will count towards ATP minimums, regional airlines will accept the time.



With all due respect you need to broaden your perspective. “Tuition reimbursement is really not worth much” perhaps to YOU and YOUR personal situation. For many the 6-9mos without any income can be a HUGE challenge and that money NOW vs 2yrs from now can make the difference whether they keep they’re heads above water or not.

Further your statement “135 CAN pay more and in SOME cases build time faster. But DEFINITELY more than an ATP instructor of course DEPENDS on the company” simply doesn’t make sense. Hard to have DEFINITELY and DEPENDS in the same sentence. Bottomline however is AGAIN, do what you like. ATP offers their SUCCESSFUL students instructor positions. Don’t like it, don’t want it, think you can do better? Have at it but don’t disparage the offer.


(Tory) #18


Tuition Reimbursement isn’t always deducted from the signing bonus. Furthermore, it’s not always about money. Sure, there are more ways than one to build 1500 hours and some gigs pay more than others, but instructing hands down provides the highest quality flight time. For some, that’s enough.


(Aaron Levy) #19

Adam, you make a good point that it can be worth a lot to some people. I guess I worded it poorly, what I meant to point out was that most of the time it will be coming out of the signing bonus anyways. And as far as my statement that was also poorly written, I meant a good 135 company will pay more then an ATP CFI, 9/10 times. And in some cases build time faster, but that is where flight instructing will have the advantage, and even with ATPs accelerated program which can be best for some people I have heard from 9/10 students that it is not worth it to stay around after and be a CFI there as CFI pay is low, especially as you said ‘‘For many the 6-9mos without any income can be a HUGE challenge and that money NOW vs 2yrs from now can make the difference whether they keep they’re heads above water or not.’’ So even if ATPs program is great it will probably be more beneficial to fly part 135 or CFI elsewhere, but to each his own.

I am not trying to put down ATP or there CFIs in anyway I am just trying to help people with information such as tuition reimbursement (usually) coming out of a signing bonus, and pointing out that as Chris said part 135 SIC won’t count for anything? According to the FAAs recent rule change it can count towards your ATP.

(John P) #20

My point is that, contrary to the rather aggressive opinions of the mentors on this site, there are alternatives to being a flight instructor that people should be aware of. Not everyone is suited to be an instructor, and I would question the quality of any training program that would say otherwise. You have to be a good pilot to be a good teacher, but you don’t have to be a good teacher to be a good pilot.

A PC12 MAY be operated single pilot, but if the opspec for a 135 operation calls for PIC & SIC (as is common in 135-Commuter operations) that SIC time is able to be logged. It’s based on the opspec, not the aircraft. The Phenom 300 MAY be operated single-pilot, but you won’t see many 135 operators using a single pilot.

This is the ATP website, and they do focus on the most effective way to build time and get to the regional airlines. (Not to mention promote their own interests by keeping a steady supply of instructors coming in to train the next generation.) This may even be the way most people do it, but it’s certainly not the only way to become an airline pilot—and it may not always be the fastest.