Real Answers from Real Pilots

Other Flight Schools

(Charles) #1

Alright mentors or other readers, I have a couple of questions that I hope someone can answer. I originally planned to attend ATP but due to issues obtaining financing this does not seem like it will happen. I searched the Internet and found a flight school in Florida that offers financing if you go thru their pilot program and work for a certain airline, so my questions are these:

  1. Has anyone heard of Epic Flight Academy based out of New Smyrna Beach, FL??
  2. If you have, what have you heard (the good, the bad, and the ugly)??
  3. This one is probably more for the Mentors: What do you know about Trans States Airlines??

Thanks and I’ll wait for any possible answers!!




I had never heard of the Epic program until today, so my information is based solely off what I read on their website. Their program sounds interesting, but their website is very light on details. I requested more information and will let you know more as I find out. The first things that jump to mind are

  1. What happens if you do not make it through their month long evaluation? Is there a cost to you then?
  2. What does this really cost? I find it very hard to believe that it is free.
  3. How many pilots are they going to accept into the program?
  4. How long is your commitment to TSA? What happens if you leave there earlier?
  5. Only one airline partnership?

If I find out anything else I will let you know. I tried calling them twice and was not able to get any response.


(Charles) #3


Thanks for looking into this!!! Here is what I know from speaking with them based on the questions you had.

  1. The evaluation is only for foreign students, as part of the TSA program you would apply to attend the school while applying to fly at TSA at the same time at which point you would then start ground school. At the end of ground school if you are not selected for the program you are only out the $45 app fee and a $495 ground school cost.

  2. The program costs approx $65,000.00 and TSA giving you a $10,000.00 reimbursement paid directly to the lender so your final cost is approx. $55,000.00

  3. Did not ask but will!!!

  4. The commitment to TSA is for 2 yrs. After that you are free to apply elsewhere if you so desire.

  5. They actually have 2 that I know of. TSA is their main partner, ExpressJet is also a partner but for a slightly different program offered thru ExpressJet called the AP3 program found on ExpressJet’s website.

They say that the vast majority of their students are from foreign countries which is why they only have 2 partnerships. Since the other students return home after their commercial training that leaves the domestic students to carry most of the CFI duties. According to the admin rep I spoke with, only about 10% of their students are from the states. This is why they tell me I can reach my 1500 hrs within 12 months of becoming a CFI.

I also know that they pay their CFIs $19.00 per hour for each flight, ground, or simulator hour with evaluations and increases (not sure how much) every 3 months.

Also, as part of the program with TSA, when you are within 3 months of reaching your 1500 hrs you will also begin training at TSA and be assigned your seniority number. I’m guessing this is a good thing and when you actually start at the airline you won’t be at the bottom of the list??

That’s about all I know right now, still talking to them via phone and email. I’ll give you any updates as they come available.


(Charles) #4

Sorry, forgot to say that they use the ground school to judge you on several factors: learning ability, dress, manners, social skills, punctuality, authority, along with a few others.

If approved on those factors you will begin flight training. Should you fail the ground school or evaluate poorly, you will be terminated from the program. At that point you will be out the $45 app fee and the $495 for the ground school. No other costs are charged.

Hope that clears it up a little bit.




So I received more information on Epic and their “partners” Airline Pilot Financing. It appears to me that what they represent as “financial aid” is really just a loan made to the student like any other lender does. The part with TSA is that they will help pay back up to $10,000 of your loan (In contrast ATP’s Tuition Reimbursement Program offers up to $11k and is with many different airlines, not just TSA). I am not saying that it is a bad program, I just think that you really need to dig into the details on it.




I want to be clear that I am not here to “sell you” on any program, that is not what we do here. That being said, I see some flaws in their program.

The first is simply the cost. Epic’s is $65k-$10k=$55k. ATP’s is $64k-$11k (Tuition Reimbursement) = $53k. It seems that you will be paying $2k more there. How much multi engine time will you have for that amount of money?

Next I wonder about housing, do they make it available for the students and instructors and at what rate?

The seniority program that you spoke of is not part of Epic’s program with TSA, that program is available to any pilot that applies to TSA. Look at TSA’s own page under “Reserve your seniority number” If everybody is doing this (and everybody will) this program will have no real affect on your seniority. You will still be at the bottom of the list, it will just be a slightly adjusted list.

I see a lot of hype on their website, but not a lot of straight facts. I feel like there is a lot of digging to be done to find some basic information.

I think my biggest question to them would be how many of their CFIs have actually joined the ranks of US airlines in the last twelve months?


(Charles) #7

Thanks Chris,

I’ve also emailed Trans States for additional information. Asking them how many pilots have been hired thru Epic was one of the questions I was going to ask them.



I am curious, what is drawing you to their program? What is standing out about it in particular?


(Charles) #9

it was actually their ability to provide financing based on future earnings and not on past credit score etc., another factor was the guaranteed job with TSA (which is one of 6 regional airlines I have targeted). Other than that I wasn’t sure which is why I asked about them in this forum, I wanted to see if anyone else ever heard of them and/or what their results were. I’m not set in stone to attend their program as I’m hoping I can improve my financial situation over the next 6 months and still get approved for financing thru ATP.




You are always welcome to ask any and all questions on this forum. I would have a lot of questions about their providing financing based on future earnings, like what kind of interest rate they are talking about with this and what exactly happens if you don’t qualify financially. I am not knocking their program, I am just saying that there are a lot of unanswered questions with them and I find their website very short on details.

I fully understand the desire to find financing wherever possible, it is often one of the hardest obstacles for students to overcome.


(Charles) #11


From speaking with them on the phone, financing is at an 8.5% interest rate with graduated payments (smaller in the beginning, larger toward the end); while working as a CFI the payments will be approx. $200 per month and go up from there. I asked for a sample amortization schedule but haven’t received one yet. I’ll keep you posted.




Do you have a copy of Epic’s training contract? I believe that they have all of their students sign one. If you have it I would be happy to take a look at it with you.
Rather than talking to them on the phone, I would really insist on seeing the actual documents that you will sign that will govern your experience at the school.