Real Answers from Real Pilots

Washout Rate

Hi All,

Just curious as to how many of your classmates and students (when you were a CFI) didn’t complete the program and for what reason. Assessing and mitigating risks are critical characteristics for pilots and I want to take steps to reduce the risk of not completing the program.

Your thoughts are very much appreciated, thanks!

Ken,

I had one student who washed out of the program. To be honest he had no business being in flight school in the first place as he was only there to please his father who was a Delta captain.

I have seen students struggle, heck I struggles myself in a few areas. It usually isn’t the actual flying that is an issue for people, it is the book work. If you make it through the education that you have the book work will be no problem at all for you. You will find that flying is a unique mix of very concrete principles and some rather abstract one.

If you want to best improve your odds at success in the program my advice would be to get as many of your written exams as possible out of the way before you start the program. If you get serious about it let me know and I will provide links to all of the exams that you will need to take and the proper course study material to buy (when you put the deposit down for ATP the study material is sent to you). I would also recommend that you study as hard as possible, that makes life so much easier.

I have never once seen a student who really buckled down and studies hard struggle in the program. Not once.

Chris

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Hey Ken,

I will add to that and say that over the past year or so that I flight instructed at ATP-PHX, only 2 of my 40 or so students left the program before finishing. The first was just not at the right place and time in his life, he had a newborn daughter and that just made the whole commitment to studying too hard for him. The other guy was struggling with the fast pace of this specific program and by my recommendation transferred to a different flight school that was more accommodating to his pace, and he is still flying.
Other than those two, all of my students finished the program and became CFIs. It’s really only an issue of your motivation and determination to succeed.

Ken,

I actually had 2 students washout and witnessed 2 others during my training. First off I can tell you just by the fact you’re asking the question I believe you’ll be fine. In all cases I’d attribute the failures to attitude. All 4 showed up basically saying “I paid ATP money make me a pilot” and that’s just not how it works. ATP will provide you with all the tools you need to be successful but YOU must do the work. Just like at the airlines, no one is going to hand you your ticket. In one particularly memorable case I had just completed my initial CFI checkride with a new examiner. My instructor asked me if I would help prep this other student for his oral with the same examiner since each examiner usually has their own “playbook” they work off of. This student couldn’t answer anything, was getting frustrated and kept yelling at me saying “you don’t know what he’s gonna ask!”, “I don’t need to know that”, etc. I finally gave him a list of questions to review, he crumpled it up and said “you’re not my instructor”. He failed twice and was gone.

Bottomline is if you’re willing to put in the work you’ll be fine.

Adam

Good to know. I didn’t see any this topic in any threads here so I had to ask. Selling myself on the idea is easy, but, a reality check is sometimes necessary.

I started working on my PPL, just to get a sense of the work involved (and, ideally, to start with a PPL). Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it!

Ken

Ken,

That’s another really good idea you have. Whether you complete your PPL on your own or decide to go to ATP and complete it there, what you’re doing shows a tremendous amount of good sense. While not everyone agrees, it absolutely blows my mind how many people come on and say “I’ve always dreamed of being a pilot”, " I KNOW I was meant to fly", etc etc and then follow up with “no I’ve never taken a lesson or been up in a small plane BUT I KNOW”. The reality is no, you really don’t know until you do and frankly it’s not for everyone. While it’s not rocket science and it’s not an Olympic event, it does require a certain amount of intelligence and some physical skill. Kudos Ken.

Adam

Ken,

Out of curiosity, how close are you to deciding if this is a career for you or not? How deep are you into your PPL training?

Chris

7.3 hours into the PPL and almost 1 million miles on commercial aircraft. Flying has always fascinated me but how close am I to making a decision, tough to gauge. I am trying to analyze all relevant info before deciding and taking the plunge. If I was to do it I would want to start full time training in 3 or 4 months.

Ken

Ken,

I can see where making a decision to leave a good career could be a really tough one. You are doing the right thing though by coming on here and asking questions. I strongly encourage you to look at our monthly schedules and read our “Flying the Line” articles as they give you a great deal of insight into the industry.

Most importantly, ask us any and all questions that you can think of, that is what we are here for.

I was a military instructor and washed out a student who now flies for Express Jets. So, I think if you have the staying power you can make it. He just couldn’t drink from the fire hose that we were giving him. In military programs, there are only a few extra rides we can give to each student in each phase.

Ian it’s the same at the airlines. He must’ve gotten better?

Adam