Real Answers from Real Pilots

Retests and Extra Hours

(Jonah Wessel) #1

I am curious how the financial situation would work if an ATP student had the need to retake a check ride due to a failure. Would the cost only be the $250 examiner’s fee, or would ATP require a few more grand to log more hours of training? I know the Wells Fargo Loan I applied for only covers the standard hours and examiner’s fees. Hopefully I never have to experience a unsatisfactory check ride, but I want to make sure I am prepared financially. Thanks!


Hey Jonah,

You are correct, if you should bust a ride the only fee would be to the examiner (not sure where you got the $250 though? It was $350 a checkride when I did it 13 yrs ago. Pretty sure it went up since then?). There are extra hours built in and they can always simply use some from the cross-country phase. Keep in mind this is within reason. One bust (maybe 2?) is not that uncommon, beyond that you’re probably going to have a conversation with someone about your career choice. Also keep in mind that since the gov’t implemented PRIA (Pilot Records Improvement Act) any failures stay with you throughout your career and are visible to prospective employers (aka The Majors). Best bet is to just pass them all :slight_smile:




There is extra flight time built into the program, so your only cost should be just the examiner’s fee. That being said, if a student needs excessive extra time there will come a point where the student needs to purchase extra hours, this is pretty rare.


(Jonah Wessel) #4

Thanks for the answer. In terms of the $250, I was talking of the retest fee. I know initially it is now $500.


Hey Jonah,

The examiner fee depends largely on the location. In PHX, when I trained, the price was $550 per checkride, later on when I came back to instruct, the price climbed to $600.

Also, the CFI initial checkride is longer both on the ground and in the air, and therefore more expensive ($1100).

Like Adam and Chris said, in most cases where you need extra flight time, ATP usually finds someplace to take it from, but that is obviously only to a certain extent. Overall though, you are correct to say that the recheck fee would be the only extra payment you’d need to pay.



Retest fees will vary by examiner, FYI.

Many, many students make it through without any retests at all. Make that your goal and then make it happen.

(Jonah Wessel) #7

Gotcha. Appreciate the quick answer. I am looking at the PHX location for my ATP training. Would you recommend? Also, how manageable did you find the CFI training to be? I am prepared to basically live and breathe aviation for these months. I am curious though, once a student is hired by ATP as a CFI, is there more breathing room in terms of down time?


I will let Yarden address your questions about PHX.

The CFI training, at least for me, was the most difficult part of the program. That being said, I buckled down for a few weeks, studied like crazy and passed all of my check rides on the first attempt.

Once you are a CFI it does calm down. I worked long days as a CFI, but I did have days off from time to time. I remember that on my days off I used to go watch the big airliners takeoff and land. My, how times have changed :slight_smile:



If you asked me, I would say that PHX is the way to go if your goal is to get to the airlines FAST. I started training exactly 2 years ago tomorrow (10/20/2014) and I am now already finished with training at SkyWest Airlines.
PHX has pretty much everything you need to succeed, being the biggest of ATP’s locations, and the fact that ASU has their flight training program there, you will have all the flying you need.

As for the CFI training, which is done at ATP’s North Las Vegas (KVGT) location, you can expect 2-3 weeks of intense study and review of everything you learned throughout the program with the addition of FOI or the fundamentals of instruction. If, like you say, you are prepared to live and breathe aviation, you shouldn’t have any issues.

Now regarding the schedule as a CFI, at locations other than PHX your schedule is pretty much up to you as long as you meet with your students on a daily basis. You can start your day whenever you want, take any and as many breaks as you want and be done as early or as late as you want, as long as you meet with each one of your students for a syllabus event every weekday.
At PHX the schedule is slightly different because of ASU. Since you are working with college students as well as Fast Track students, you are a little bit less flexible because they have flight ‘blocks’ that are coordinated with their college schedule. For example, you might meet with an ASU student every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday between 6am-9am. Fast track students are scheduled around these flight blocks.
Up until this spring, PHX instructors would be assigned to work with either ASU students or ACPP (Fast Track) students exclusively, but that has changed and now there is an even mix of students for all instructors.
I will try to get a screenshot of an instructor’s weekly schedule so you can get a better idea of how it looks.


(Erik Koppisch) #10


I am having a tough time deciding which ATP location in Arizona to train at. Are there any big differences between Mesa and Scottsdale? The location at Mesa looks nicer and I think the fleet is newer. On the other hand, Mesa is much larger and looks extremely busy (both student- and traffic-wise).



I did my training at Mesa and I loved it. I enjoyed the fact that there is always something going on over there and in my opinion, it also makes the learning experience easier, you always have someone around to ask questions or study with.
I see IWA’s size and complexity as pure benefit. The airport layout is tricky, you have high volumes of airline, military and flight school traffic, and the tower controllers will not make the job easy for you, and I see that as a challenge. From experience, most instructors that trained at the smaller locations found it very hard to get used to the busier environment at IWA, a difficulty that I never had since it was what I had to deal with from day 1.
I also instructed in SDL briefly and it is a very nice location as well (and I’ve heard that they have since moved to a slightly larger office).
Both locations have the same fleet (SDL and IWA aircraft are shuffled back and forth for maintenance that is done in Mesa), and the instruction that you will receive will also be equal in quality.

If you want more specific details about either location feel free to ask.




I would not let the age of the fleet be a factor in my decision making. Those older 1979 model Seminoles actually handle really well and are a pleasure to fly. The fact that they are considered 1979 models does not mean that they were made in 1979, just that they were made off the design that Piper had approved in that year. I flew both the older and the newer models extensively and really enjoyed flying both of them.



When I was in TTN we only had the 79’s (think they were afraid someone would steal the hubcaps off the new ones in Jersey?) and they were awesome! I remember them being easier to restart in flight than the new birds we had in HEF? As Chris said I wouldn’t give it any thought.




Other way around, the 2000 models are easier to restart inflight because they have unfeathering accumulators whereas the '79 models used the engine starter to turn the blades. Either system works pretty well. Time to break out that Seminole POH :slight_smile:



Unfeathering whats? Hey! I’m old and have very limited space on my “hard drive”! Only room for ScareBus stuff right now. Regardless there was something I liked better on the old birds?


(Erik Koppisch) #16


Great answers as always. I received all my training at a small uncontrolled airport, so the high volume of traffic at IWA would be quite a challenge. During the private days, I almost always avoided flying into a controlled airport because of my fear of ATC. I’m much more confident now, but I’m always learning. With that said, I might be leaning toward SDL. I think I’ll be much more comfortable learning out of a less busy airport. Based on the airport activity stats on AOPA, SDL is still much busier than the two closest Class D airports from where I currently live (MMU and TTN). The transition to IWA from my little mom and pop airport might be too overwhelming, at least for the first couple months haha. Are there always enough airplanes for students at either location or do you sometimes have to wait around for someone else to finish up before it’s your turn to fly? And are there FTDs available?


At KIWA there I personally never had any scheduling issues with aircraft or sims. KSDL has slightly less flexibility since the fleet is smaller. This won’t affect your day to day operations, but if your scheduled aircraft is taken for maintenance for example, you most likely will have to wait on it to come out since there won’t be any extra aircraft on the ramp.