Real Answers from Real Pilots

Paying cash

(Chris) #1

If you pay cash are you still eligible for the 11,000 dollar bonus?
Is it worth interviewing at 500 hours and locking in one airline or waiting for the best offer at 1500 tt?
How long does it take to get to 1500? I know most haven’t had to do it but what is the average. 1.5 years seems excessive.


Hi Chris and Welcome,

The $11k is Tuition Reimbursement not loan reimbursement and while I’m not an expert, I’ve seen nothing in any of the literature to lead me to believe you wouldn’t be. I’d have to say yes (but I’d still call ATP, 1-800-ALL-ATPS to be certain).

As for the interview that’s a great question. First thing is that’s a condition of the Tuition Reimbursement. So if you’re interested in that yea its worth it. Now some also offer a signing bonus in lieu of the Tuition Reimbursement so in that case if you don’t need the money until you get hired I guess you could wait? That said by the time you have the 500hrs you should have some idea of where you want to go and things prob won’t change much. Bottomline is it’s your call but again if you want that $11k upfront you will have to sign.

The 1.5 is actually pretty accurate. You’ll graduate from ATP with 275hrs. 1500-275=1225, 1225/18mos=68hrs a month which about the average throughout the ATP system.




Most CFIs will fly between 80 and 1000 hours per month, so 1.5 years is about spot on. I believe that if you paid cash for the program the Tuition Assistance money is paid out to you as part of your pay check. I have contacted one of the people at ATP who is very familiar with this and will let you know as soon as I do.


(Aaron) #4

So is it official that any signing bonus offered by an airline is in fact in lieu of tuition reimbursement? Last I read that other thread there was no official word back.

(Danielle Calnin) #5

Chris - YES, if you pay cash for your flight training you are eligible for
$11,000 in Tuition Reimbursement. Rather than the payments going straight
to your student loan, the payments will be sent to you.

One of the biggest reasons it IS worth interviewing at 500 hours and
committing to an airline is you can receive the extra monthly payments to
help supplement income (in your case since you have the cash for training)
while a flight instructor and during your first year of employment at the

If you have more questions about the Tuition Reimbursement program you can
email me at

Danielle Calnin

Director Airline Business Development
Airline Transport Professionals - ATP
Office 904-595-7989

(Danielle Calnin) #6

Aaron - Envoy and Piedmont are offering Tuition Reimbursement AND a Bonus, the total monetary benefit is $15,000.

(Aaron) #7

That’s great news thanks! I’ve been looking at Piedmont a lot as one of their crew bases is near me.



I actually interviewed at Piedmont back in 2005. While I ended up going with ExpressJet I was impressed with Piedmont, they have always been a very well respected regional airline. Now that they are getting jets things are looking good over there.


(Aaron) #9

That’s really great to hear, I like how close they are. IAD and DCA aren’t too far from me either so I’m looking into the regionals based there as well. Since Piedmont is doing American Eagle flights does that mean they have a direct line for pilots into American Airlines?



In fact they do. You can read more about it here:


(Aaron) #11

What a great deal! There’s something to look forward to, thanks for sharing!

(Chris) #12

Adam, I appreciate your input. However, at 68 hours per month that would put me in the 10 dollars per hour scale. No chance of making 42k per year. 10 dollars/hour is a difficult wage to live on.



The pay is not based solely off of flight time, if you read the paragraph above where the pay rates are it says that there is a $1,000 per month ground school guarantee, plus pay for various other things such as exam proctoring, etc. The flight time pay rates are in addition to that.

That being said, flight instructing is and will continue to be the period of least earnings during a pilot’s career. Being a flight instructor is akin to being an apprentice, it is something that almost all of us did to get here. We buckled down and made it happen, and back then it was on less than instructors are paid now.

Try to look to the future on this one, the real payoff is at the major airlines.




If you read the link you posted it clearly says “Up to $42k”, it also says that it includes the tuition reimbursement plus the other additions Chris talks about. But as Chris says this is the “apprentice” phase when you’re actually learning your craft as much as you’re instructing. Not too long ago instructors made a fraction of this and some pilots even paid to build time. Regional airlines also would charge $10-20k for training and that was non-refundable meaning if you washed out you that money was gone. This is by far the best time in history to get into this industry.

That said listen I’m not a salesman and I’m not trying to convince you of anything. I’m just offering my opinion and you can do with it what you like. If you feel this is a bad investment pass. You’re looking at a career with earning potential in the $300k range. If you went to Harvard Law for 6 yrs and $350k tuition they wouldn’t even guarantee you a non-paying intern job at a law firm. To me this was my dream job. It surpassed my expectations and my life is better than I ever imagined. In hindsight the sacrifices seem miniscule (and things weren’t nearly as good as they are now). But hey that’s me. The choice is yours.

(For what it’s worth AND I’m not trying to be obnoxious but this response was written on Kailua Beach watching the sunset on the Pacific).