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First Officer Program...rip off or good

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Jan 12, 2002
Hi !

You probably have heard something about "first officer programs".
What is to think of that ? They're pretty expensive, but you get (buy) quality(?) time. Do they include a type rating ? Is one just used as "right seat idiot" or actually given the chance of actively participating in the flight (switching legs..etc). What do potential employers think about these programs ?

Anybody that has some info about that, please reply.

I'm not a recruiter for anybody, but I have heard that alot of the airlines frown on buying time.
Just my 2 cents.
First Officer "Programs"

I hate to generalize, but in a word these "programs" by and large are ripoffs.

You pay a lot of money up front and you may not get to fly much, if at all. You may get to run the radios and perhaps read off the checklist. The time may not be countable as SIC time under the regs if the airplane in question is a single-pilot aircraft. Forget about getting typed as part of the deal.

Most people view these programs with great disdain, and I am quite sure employers do as well. Review of your profile reveals decent quals. I'd use my money to apply to commuters, where you can obtain legit FO time and even make Captain one day, on their nickel. Or else, train for another credential, e.g. CFI. Or finish your degree if you haven't.

Don't be suckered. Lots of luck with your plans.
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Think of it this way: you are asking if a program is good that makes you pay inorder to work for them for no pay. How does that sounds? Trust me, there are still jobs out there. If there aren't, do you wish to spend your savings for a bunch of time that is probably worthless then?
I remember a few years back when I began researching flight schools and Universities. I won't ramble on about my experiences, but one thing I learned is to DO YOUR RESEARCH! Visit the schools and speak with current and former students. Ask about them on forums too. I remember I almost got suckered into doing my PPL at a local school. The CFI lied his head off to me, and put me down once I told him my final decision to train during University. Do not get a biased opinion, but ask as many people as you can. I am very pleased with the school I am at now (apart from the wx and a/c cancellations), and my instructor is the greatest! I'm glad I chose the route I did, and wouldn't go back to that other school if he offered me free training. The guy didn't care about me at all, but just my money.

Also, I remember how I had come across so many of these F/O programs and accelerated programs. There are no programs like this in Canada, nor are there any academy type schools. There are college programs (no degree though), and only one University degree aviation program school, which I attend. When I saw all these adds by schools that promised right seat turbine blah blah blah, and I got so jealous. I thought that was the way one needed to go. Their adds are so deceptive, and I feel easily mislead young students. I mean, showing a guy in a 747 or similar while advertising to do a PPL is ridiculous to me.

Anyway, keep asking around. Some of the schools like ATP, Comair, and FSI apparently have great reputations. Not everyone is happy going there, however. Do what makes you feel comfortable. If money is a problem, go part 61. If not, I would prefer (this is just my opinion) a part 141- I like structure. It's all about attitude in the end though. Stay positive and persistent and your career will be a blast, no matter what you're doing.

Good Luck in your search.
SIC programs are essentially "buy-a-job" programs. I recommend putting your money into going for more education and/or ratings. Bobbysamd said it best and the other posters summed it up briefly but well by saying that these programs are rip-offs. I agree.

Best wishes to you in your future endeavors.

What would your gut feeling be about going to a flight school that offered free flight training? Funny how we never see that one...

Wise of you to ask your question before taking an action that will follow you forever (thanks PRIA!). I think it is pilots, not "the company" per se that frown on these ops, for good reason. From local banner tow-er to major airline, pilots will almost always play big role in your interview/hire.

Yes, as someone mentioned, there are 300 hr RJ FO's, but there are plenty that were doomed to failure before an interview even started, due to pay to play operator on resume. Interviewer has made up mind before even shaking your hand and saying hello. (Guess that means "You didnt have me at hello" for you Rene Zellwiger/Tom Cruise Fans?) Ever decide you dont like someone, before giving them a chance? We're all guilty of that in one way or another. Just look at some of the old threads this board has had-- even without taking sides, you dont want anything that contencious on your resume.
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