Professional Pilot Programs

diana

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Hello out there,

I am interested in pursuing a career as a professional pilot. I have been doing a lot of research on several schools. For instance, Pan Am Academy, Airline Training Academy, ATP etc. These programs are very expensive and very competitive. I wondered if anyone has attended any school of this type and could give some first hand information on your experience or any knowledge you may have about these schools. Any information would be helpful good, bad or indifferent.

Thanks
 

TurboS7

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First be sure this is really what you want to do.Second, the aviation economy has totally fallen apart,this means that it will take a few years for airlines to really start hiring again. You will see from Air, Inc. and others that hiring is going on but it is what they are all about. They want to keep you fired up. Right now there are so many qualified, and I mean qualified, guys on the street it will take a while to use those up. Next prim guys from the military will be retiring and coming out, they are always first to get hired. The airlines won't hire anyone now unless they are an astronaut, and have a master degree. That is your competition.
Getting with the airlines is kinda like a good craps game. When it is bad, it is bad. Don't bet, hang on to your chips. Eventually the board will turn around and you'll be in a postion to win. Right now you need to hang back. First get a four-year degree-in anything-grasshopper growing-you must have that. Then get your commercial, instrument, CFI and CFII and instruct. Then get on with a Part 135, from there you can go corporate jet or a commuter. Get PIC time, that will help you more than anything. In about 3 to 4 years the picture will turn around but I doupt you will ever see the hiring that we saw this last decade. The important thing is to enjoy being where you are at, you might be there a while.
 

dondk

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I second TurboS 7's post...

I would add though that many of these schools provide the exact same training as your FBO at your local airport. The only real difference is that in FL or AZ the weather is favorable more often than not. The training is for all intents the same. Some may argue quality, but there are some really good instructors at a local FBO. Personally I started at one of those schools, and finished at a local FBO. Why? the main reason is I saved several thousand dollars by going part 61, I turned the extra savings towards more multi time which got me my job faster. I can say no one ever looked down on my training because it was not 100% 141 and my systems classes were not harder nor easier than my classmates who had 100% 141 training either.

With the industry in it's current state you have time, use the time constructively, save your money as you will need it later.

Finally, I read an article where some of the schools were saying a good week was when they got 3 "possible" students leads. It is not what it was a year ago when it was 3 leads by noon daily. Schools will tell you what you want to hear, but the statistics of close to 10,000 pilots who will be on furlough speaks for itself.

If you are completely set on spending the $25K, I would consider ATP before others.
 

skydiverdriver

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turbo is correct, but I disagree about staying where you are. I think the regionals will stay in a growth mode, and many large aircraft pilots would rather not fly the smaller aircraft. You may be at a regional a bit longer, but that's not too bad these days. I have some experience with ATP's program, and it is intense. It's like boot camp, and if you can't keep up, you will be booted out. I suppose all of them are like this. The advantage is the multi time. It seems expensive to fly a twin to get the basic ratings, but if you don't, later on you will have all the ratings and no multi time, which is needed to take the next step. I had this problem, and I can't tell you how difficult it was to find a way to build multi time. I ended up instructing at ATP, and it didn't take long to get a job flying a large turboprop with cargo all night.

I agree that college should be your first goal, preferrably getting a degree that has some well paying jobs waiting for you. I've heard that engineers make the most out of college, but you will have to research the job market, as everything is a bit down right now. Aviation is a bit more responsive to the economy than most careers, but everything is in a slump now, so best to prepare for a upturn now. Many people will give up aviation as an option, and if you get qualified while things turn around, you will be in the right place when things come around again..

Good luck, and I hope this helps.
 

AV1ATRX

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Hi Diana,

I went throught the same process a few years ago of picking out a flight school, so I think I can give you a little insight.

You are doing the right thing by looking at them all, but don't believe everything they say. I can't believe how many of them are still saying there is a pilot shortage, for one example. They will tell you anything to get you to come there.

From personal experience, which is only on the east coast, the best school for your money is North American Institute of Aviation. It isn't flashy or famous (like ATP or Comair Acadamy), but it does the exact same flight training, and for less. That is true for most of the smaller flight schools, for that matter. They all do the same flight training, in general. Some of them promise interviews with airlines, but I wouldn't make my decision based on that, either. Besides, you need the experience of teaching other people how to fly and doing some 135 flying before you go to the airlines anyway.

I have no idea where you are in life, but if you haven't gone to college, you could go to an aviation college, or a college with an avaition program. There are lots of good college programs out there. AOPA's December issue of Flight Training had a list of all the colleges with aviation programs.

There's also a thread on the Women In Aviation website about flight schools, and one that is currently being discussed has a bad reputation for their treatment of women. You might want to see that. The address is www.wiai.org, and then click on message boards. I won't go into details here about that situation.

Get the info from them all and check out the prices and time frames. If you would like more information about NAIA, send me a private message. I also have experience with a couple of others, but I don't want to go public with a lot of that information, because it's not necessarily good information. Again, I could give you that information in private.

Part 141 flight schools aren't the only way to go. While I am not and never have been military, I encourage that route if at all possible. Of course, that's not for everybody (like me). Also, there are Part 61 programs out there that do A LOT if not all of the training in the same amount of time, and in some cases at the same price. I ended up at a 141 school to do my instrument, comm, multi, cfi, cfii, and did all the training Part 61. Go figure! It was just what worked best for me.

I don't know the future, but it looks like the days of sailing out of flight school into an airline job are over for a while. You could end up instructing for quite some time. I know at our company, we have a literal tall stack of resumes. And that's just to fly for a small charter operation. I'm not trying to sound negative, because if you want to be a professional pilot, you will be. You'll just have to try harder and work longer to get there than the folks who got jobs over the past few years.

Enough from me. I'm sure others will give more info. Good luck on your search and mail me if you have any questions.

Rachel
 

FSIGRAD

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I have been a student at FlightSafety for the past year, If you have any specific questions I would be glad to give you a straight no nonsense answer (I don't work for marketing!) Send me a private if you do. Good luck!
 

azpilot

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A 4 year degree is not required by all major airlines. Southwest hired a friend of mine and he has no degree. He never finished. I would say that is is preferable and a requirement at many major airlines. If you don't have a degree you may consider some of the 2yr aviation schools like Cochise College, Gilbert Community College in AZ which is associated with North Dakota University, Mesa's program in Farmington, NM. There are others. The cost of training may be less than some of the professional schools and you will get a degree to boot. If you want to transfer to a 4 year college so be it. Arizona State University or Embry Riddle are 4 year universities to consider.

Good luck,
AZPilot
 

dondk

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The 4 year degree topic...

IN the 80's well before the last hiring phase airlines did not require a degree. Around 90-91 when the airline market was (In my opinion) worse than today many airlines started my making a 4 year degree mandatory. Slowly all became mandatory, as this was one disqualifer to potential applicants. Some airlines even changed it one step further to prefer anything BUT the generic "Aviation degree". This was for "diversity" in the cockpit, I remember this as I was in a generic "aviation degree" at the time and switched to Chemistry degree.

In the last 2-3 or so years, many airlines "changed" from mandatory to "preferred" a 4 year degree or some other equally "loose" term. The "supply" of qualified pilots was less than the demand. Now it is different, personally, I would see the mandatory return. As other disqualifers will appear when the airlines do re-hire again.

In any case, a degree will always be better than not having any, but keep in mind a degree that allows options (teaching, accounting, etc.) may give you more options in the long term future if this industry does not bounce back as fast as many are hoping.

Best of luck
 
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Diana, Lots of good advice above. I agree with the person who thinks there will still be growth in the Regionals and for some time to come.
My two cents. As far as getting your basic ratings, it doesn't matter much if it's 141 or 61. Finding a good instructor is much more important. I wouldn't pay the big money for all of your ratings. The advantage of some of the big name schools is that they often have agreements with airlines in which you may be granted an interview which can lead to a direct job. You are paying for that job connection in many cases. At the moment there aren't too many jobs to get so I'm sure the schools that have these agreements have some upset students. The airlines have been cyclical but the demand for air travel will continue to increase and so will the need for pilots. The economy and 9/11 have put a big dent in pent-up demand for pilots right now and perhaps for some time to come. My wife went to Airline Training Academy in Orlando and got hired with American Eagle with 400 hours. She was able to do this comfortably in less than a year and a half from start to finish. The school was not bad. I did some research and found that there aren't many great ( In my opinion) schools. I would call the schools you are interested and get names/numbers of previous students and call them. Watch out for schools going belly-up...you could lose your money. If you have the flying bug, don't stop flying. Good luck, John
 

Wiggums

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Something else to think about

One thing you might want to consider in this job market is how often graduates of the program you choose get jobs as flight instructors at the end of training. It'll be much easier if after you finish training you can go right into a CFI job and start building some time. The last thing you want to happen is to finish some program and be on the street as a CFI with zero dual. Also, don't trust the school's ?adminssions officer?. Most of them will tell you anything to get you to sign up, especially these days. Ask some of the students or instructors, they can give you the real story. Atleast one of the schools you metioned is pretty much not hiring their graduates right now, due to the slowing of upward movement.
 

JETBOUND

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Diana,

I have to agree with many of the previous posts that the 4yr degree is a very big boost on the resume by the time you get to the majors. When they look at pilots with same amount of time they will 98% of the time take the one with the degree.

I do NOT agree with what some of these guys are saying about wait about six years. That is flat out rediculous! There will be SO many Baby-Boomers retiring in the next six years that we will have a VERY large pilot shortage if everyone was to wait until hiring starts picking up then. Not to mention growth over the next six years in the Airlines whether it be Regional or Mainline. PILOTS ARE NEEDED!!

As for flight schools, I am at ATA right now and just finished. It appears that there are going to be several options available to us VERY SOON. I shake my head at the suckers who gave up there training because the industry is hurting right now. Take it one step at a time. I did and it looks like I will get into a regional at <400hrs directly into a JET. As far as ATA, it has its quirks here and there but I honestly believe that it is the BEST flight school around. Airstage II is unbeatable here, 100hrsmulti, part 121 qualified ground schools, CRM environment, and now @30hrs in a CL65 SIM. Regionals are knocking on the door here since we got that SIM. The thing that puts this school above the others is that they are establishing relationships with several airlines not just one. No other school offers that. I know its costly, TRUST ME, but they have actually reduced the airstage II price by 15k.

The last thing I would advise is like others have said above, make sure you want to do this. If you don't have your private, Get it first. after that you will have a good idea if you will enjoy it or not. My opinion is that there is no other job in the world that compares to being a pilot!

Good luck to you!
 
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AZaviator

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I just have to know a few things. First, which regionals are "knocking on the door at ATA?" I've only heard of 3 airlines that still have relationships with ATA, which are American Eagle (not hiring), TSA (not hiring), and Discover Air? Who are they?? Never heard of them. I seriously doubt you will be in a jet with less than 400 hours even if you went to ATA. Airstage two is a nice idea but I think I would rather spend the money on my CFI, CFII, and MEI. You're much more marketable with those ratings than you are with 400 hours and 100hrs of multi.

I'm not trying to knock your school but you can get a lot of the same training and more ratings at a place like ATPs for about $15-20,000 less, plus, you don't have to deal with paying several hundred dollars for those awful uniforms they make you wear. At ATPs you get to deal with more real world flying, and get to fly planes across the country and aren't limited to one certain area.

As other people previously posted, be very cautious of any flight school/academy you attend. They will say anything to get you into the door, after that, who knows what could happen. Be very cautious, but remember to enjoy your training and have fun.
 

TurboS7

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Paid commercial---I biting my nails hoping that my company doesn't go under. If it does I will be in a world of hurt to get another job.
 

FNB

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Uniforms?

AZaviator please define "awful uniforms"? Do those big schools make you where uniforms to fly there, and work there? Any info would be great.
 

AZaviator

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Yea, certain flight schools/academies require their students to spend a few hundred dollars on uniforms, money which would be a lot more useful going toward flight time.
 

Wiggums

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Time to grow up...

JETBOUND said:
Diana,

As for flight schools, I am at ATA right now and just finished. It appears that there are going to be several options available to us VERY SOON. I shake my head at the suckers who gave up there training because the industry is hurting right now. Take it one step at a time. I did and it looks like I will get into a regional at <400hrs directly into a JET. As far as ATA, it has its quirks here and there but I honestly believe that it is the BEST flight school around. Airstage II is unbeatable here, 100hrsmulti, part 121 qualified ground schools, CRM environment, and now @30hrs in a CL65 SIM. Regionals are knocking on the door here since we got that SIM. The thing that puts this school above the others is that they are establishing relationships with several airlines not just one. No other school offers that. I know its costly, TRUST ME, but they have actually reduced the airstage II price by 15k.

Oh please, ATA is the best flight school around? Was that the school that lost it's 141 status? Or the school that ASA choose to no longer associate with? I seriously doubt that the airlines are about to kick in the front doors to get ATA's grads. If they are, and it's because of the rescue jet simulator, then I would say it was silly of you to pay for sim time that airlines give you for free. I don't know if you've heard of this, but airlines will train you how to fly their equipment when you get hired. It's not necessary to waste your own money. Moreover, Airstage II is complete joke. Flying around playing airline pilot by flying a light twin with a simulated schedule? How about 100 hours trying to keep the aircraft upright while students try to turf in the aircraft while doing Vmc demos? Now that's a real learning experience. Even better, that experience comes free once you get your MEI. Basically, my point is that you'd be better of putting all that cash you'll need for Airstage II and the CL65 sim in a paper bag and burning it, at least you'll stay warm all winter, and maybe some of next too.

About uniforms. The best way to describe a flight school that makes you wear uniforms is that it's like dressing up for Halloween everyday. It's cute for little kids to dress up once a year, but it gets stupid after awhile. I doubt anyone can give me any benefits of wearing uniforms during flight training. It's a waste of money, complete overkill.

Hopefully, you won't take to great personal offense to this post, but you can tell I DO NOT like ATA.
 

naviator

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Hey,

In response to your question regarding a good professional pilot program.

In May last year after just finishing my private I had 25 000 dollars to spend on further flight training. So I looked around. All over.
Most of the schools I found gave me all ratings and approximately 25 hours twin time. I also checked out NAIA in South Carolina (I even visited the school), and I think it is a good school.

I didn't end up going there though. I ended up in Fort Pierce, FL and Ari-Ben Aviator. It's a small school with 6 Cessna 172's and 6 Duchesses. The good thing about this school is that for 25 000 you can enroll in their Pro-Course and after about 6 months you'll have all your ratings and 200 hours multi-engine! All the training is done in the Duchess. And you definitely can't find a deal like that anywhere else. At least I couldn't.

As you know, one thing that the airlines look for in an applicant is total time, but more importantly twin-time. I've been instructing here at Aviator for a little less than a year now, and I have about 1000 hours total with 700 multi.

Sure this school has its little "twists", as any other flight school, but you'll get a lot for your money.

You should check it out. (www.aribenaviator.com)

Good luck in your school search.
And by the way, I think this is a great time to start flying. By the time you're "done" instructing (in about 2 to 3 years) I'm sure the business has picked up again. At least so I hope ;)

Naviator
 

jaybird

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Be careful about getting an aviation specific degree. Its great if you want to become a pilot, however you are somewhat limited as to what else you can do. Excellant example is our current situation or if you lose you medical.

Jetbound, what happens if you forget to wear you uniform?
Do they send you home?
 

dondk

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I gotta put my .02 in...

First, there will be retiree's in the next 6 years. How long though does the junior United guy think he may be furloughed? I have heard a very sad 2 years before a recall, how about the junior guy at Eagle, I believe another thread was alluding to year before recall. Will the retiree's out number the furloughed pilots? I don't have those numbers but with each major alluding to almost 1,000 pilot's on furlough each, I have some doubt... Regionals, will grow, undoubtly so. How much and how soon? all of us would like to know that! Heck if we knew that we would all bargain for the best contract out there... Who knows? not the ATA, FSI, or any other school, not even the airlines themselves.

To those 400 hr guys from any school who thinks they are getting a jet immediately... Think again, not when there are over 600+ "current" ERJ and CRJ furloughed pilots. Who do you think a company will pick? the dude who has the ink still wet on his/her commercial ticket or the dude who has several hundred hours in the actual aircraft on the actual line? My money would be on the later... 30hrs in a "sim" is no where close to the actual line!

As I recently completed CRJ training, I can say 30% of my class washed out, these were guys with 1500+ hours and 500+ hours in turbines and previous airline experience. I am not saying the CL-65 is a hard aircraft, but it is not a light twin either. A CL-65 sim is nice, but what will you actually learn other than good CRM? Any airline will send you to thier training at thier expense and you will learn it THIER way.

That is why they have training departments. ATA may give 30hrs of sim time but ask what you get for that? Are they doing approachs at 6, 6, & 6? with max x-wind? My company made us do that amongst other things.

The days of the 500 hour regional pilots are gone for a while, maybe a year maybe more, they will be back but not anytime soon with a good 1500 "regional" pilots on furlough.

I cannot speak for ATA's training, but I am highly suspect to anyone getting an "in" at any company when they are many brothers and sisters walking the unemployment line right now. There are very few regionals hiring, and only a few more rumored to be in the near future.

Finally to the 400 hour pilot, I truly do hope you get on with a regional and all the more if it is in a jet... Just be careful that the company is strong enough and your not going to get furloughed. This is why the CFI's are great, job security and you really get a great learning experience, it is hard work to get ( a lot harder than a cl-65 ground course) but it is well worth it...
 
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