Flight Schools: "Go, No Go Decision"

witman77

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Flight Schools: Who offers the BEST training?

Recently, I have been researching multiple different flight schools. Each school has a unique curriculum that is touted to be the "best" way to get students that much sought after airline pilot position.

Of course, I have noticed Delta Connection Academy's www.deltaconnectionacademy.com large, full-page ads in a variety of aviation magazines. They did send me a packet with a cost breakdown. It appears that I would be spending approximately $62,000 in twelve months and finish with an Mult-Engine Instructors license; 163 hrs. single engine; 33 hrs. twin; 48 hrs FTD (flight training device). Now, the most alluring aspect of DCA is they are affiliated with Delta and its subsidiaries (airlines that are part of the Delta Connection network).

In DCA's brochure, they claim in black and white the following:
1. Our Graduates fly jets straight out of the academy.
2. There is no wait time. Delta Connection Carriers hire our graduates.
3. Being Airline owned, we have the ability to make your transition from student to first officer seamless.
4. Become a first officer in 12 moths and as few as 330 hrs, without the need to become a flight instructor
5. Apply and be accepted into Jet Direct.*
*Graduates who are interviewed and hired by a Delta Connection Carrier.
6.As a graduate of the Academy, the hiring Delta Connection carrier will pay your First Officer Training...a value over $13,000.

Naturally, to all of us aspiring pilots, both young and older, DCA would appear to be the hands down choice. But I have read some posts on this website that have been somewhat alarming and a few comments were downright frightening. I realize not everyone is going to have a great experience at any school, or even Disney World for that matter, but what counts the most is...the job.

Does DCA's connection with Delta and companies carry that much clout? If so, it's worth the extra money to get a relatively "better" shot at working for the airlines, and possibly, in less time.

Next, there's ATP's www.allatps.com Airline Training Program for $38,000 in either ten or three months. For approximately $22k-$24k less than DCA one could get approximately: 10 hrs single;140 hrs multi; 50 hrs mult FTD; 3 hrs Citation; CFI multi, CFI instrument. (subtract $6-8K from this "savings" total for private license; ATP requires students entering the compared Airline Training Program to have their private or so I've been informed).

I was told by ATP's corporate office, they offer "some" of their graduates a CFI position, whereas DCA offers "most" of their graduates a CFI job. This seems to be critical; due to the fact, it would be highly undesirable to be a new graduate with a new, large debt, relatively few logged hours, a fledgling pilot in a highly competitive field, unemployed for an indefinite period of time with very few options to bulk-up your log book outside instructing. So, to drive the point home: The CFI job offer appears to be a very critical step, which brings me to the next flight school...Embry Riddle's CAPT program.

The CAPT program www.captprogram.org claims to have designed a brand new approach to getting us wannabe pilots into the airlines. They claim to place a greater amount of focus in the "quality" of the training. You don't get any CFI certificates, but you do get a commercial mult-engine; instrument rating; and a MD-90 EFD type rating. Their course is $80,000 and can be completed in twelve months.

Since CAPT graduates do not get a CFI in their program, their is no CFI job offer. So, how does a new graduate earn a living unless they are offered an airline or corporate pilot position? This seems an unlikely event or could a graduate of the CAPT program, with their "unique" training likely get a pilot position? If not, these new graduates will have a very large debt and no "obvious" way to earn a living and no way to start paying on the rather large $80k debt.

Lastly, there are our good old FBOs where many of us started. Because most people in these forums are familiar with the pros and cons of this final flight school candidate, I'll spare us all the "windy" details, while maintaining the respect and consideration the typical, local FBO derserves. *Currently, the small, local aiports in my city do not have a twin as part of their programs.

Okay, that should be enough mental information to digest for now. But the above schools and their respective programs had to be thoroughly explained, in order to accurately present the total quagmire that we aspiring pilots are facing. This is a very serious issue, if misinformed, could land an otherwise future, great pilot's career, finances, and possibly his/her life, upside down!

So the BIG questions still remain:

1.Which of the above schools (Or, if there is an unmentioned better alternative, please inform) would be the best choice to get an airline pilot's position?

2. If a graduate was offered a CFI position with his/her school, do their CFI hrs count as PIC? If not, how is the time taken into account by the airlines?

3. If you are a CFI-multi instructor, how does one get any jet time -- is it necessary -- jet time seems to be a requirement to fly jets?

4. What credentials do the commuter airlines and the majors typically require of a potential pilot in order to get the job...not the minimum requirements?

5. How long can the "average" pilot with the "base" commuter airline qualifications expect to be unemployed while actively seeking a pilot's position?

6. If your flight school doesn't offer a CFI position, how difficult on a (1-10) scale is it to find a CFI position, preferably CFI-mulit?

7. Are there truly a large number of highly qualified pilots with thousands of hours (many of them jet hrs) who are actively looking, but cannot find a job?

8. Are the prospects of quality pilot jobs and pilot earning power truly as bleak as many former and current pilots report? -- If so, this would be a crushing reality to many hopefuls. I'm hoping the glass can be seen as half-full if you're looking from the right vantage point.

9. Is the future of the airline pilot profession improving, leveling off, or going down?

I want to thank each of you who respond to this post. The valuable insight offered by you, experienced, successful pilots, could be the direction needed by many, many pilots, like me, who are standing at the same point in the crossroads.
 
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banned username 2

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YIKES!

I only paid about $80,000 for 4 years at Embry Riddle which included ALL of my flight training (through CFI-ME) AND all of my room and board, travel expenses, spending money, etc...

I came out with 270 hours TT, 65 hours Multi, 205 hours single and most importantly a 4 year degree from an accredited university...

I realize this was a few years ago, but $63,000 for basically 196 hours of airplane time??? That averages over $320 per hour...

4. Become a first officer in 12 moths and as few as 330 hrs, without the need to become a flight instructor
Then why do they want you to pay for all of your Instructor ratings???
 

joeg252

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Do yourself a favor and stay away from those big name flight schools, you don't need them. They hold that airline interview in front of your face like a danling carrot. They pay you crap as a flight instructer, which is pretty degrading to the proffesion. Also the flight instructing phase of most of those programs can last up to two years, with no raises. I know this because I went through a program at one of these places only to wait five months for a standz date, go through that, and then be offered a job up north where the flying sucks in the winter for $10.00 bucks an hour. I turned down the job and sought employmnt at a smaller flight school for more money and could not have been more happy with my decision. So, be careful at where you spend your money on flight training,yeah I might have to flight instruct a bit longer but at least I make descent money and enjoy my job!
 

FracCapt

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witman77 said:
You don't get any CFI certificates, but you do get a commercial mult-engine; instrument rating; and a MD-90 EFD type rating.
An MD90 type rating will be absolutely useless. Any airline that wants to hire you will train you....plus, with no time in type, type ratings are rarely going to help you get a job. Of course, SWA is an obvious exception - but you wouldn't stand a chance at a job there even if you got a 737 type instead of MD90 due to the low total time.

In my opinion, doing the CAPT program(based solely on your description of it - I am not familiar with it at all) would be incredibly stupid.

1.Which of the above schools (Or, if there is an unmentioned better alternative, please inform) would be the best choice to get an airline pilot's position?
Based on the ones you listed, I would say ATP would be my choice. Multi time is important - you get a lot of it there. Mom and pop 61 operations are great as well, as long as you get a good instructor...but financing is not nearly as readily available for those types of schools.

2. If a graduate was offered a CFI position with his/her school, do their CFI hrs count as PIC? If not, how is the time taken into account by the airlines?
Time as a CFI is PIC.

3. If you are a CFI-multi instructor, how does one get any jet time -- is it necessary -- jet time seems to be a requirement to fly jets?
You won't likely get jet time until you have 1200-1500+TT and go to a regional or charter operator. If you get lucky, you might get in with a corporate dept at low time, but those are fairly rare. The regionals do not require applicants to have any jet, nor any turbine.

4. What credentials do the commuter airlines and the majors typically require of a potential pilot in order to get the job...not the minimum requirements?
Varies by the airline and state of the industry. From what I gather right now, the regionals are looking for 1200-1500TT with 100-200+ of multi time. Majors publish low minimum times, but competitive times are way above that....usually 4-5 times the mins.

5. How long can the "average" pilot with the "base" commuter airline qualifications expect to be unemployed while actively seeking a pilot's position?
No way to tell. Depends on the person and state of the industry.

6. If your flight school doesn't offer a CFI position, how difficult on a (1-10) scale is it to find a CFI position, preferably CFI-mulit?
Shouldn't be very difficult, if you're willing to move where the jobs are. Hell, there's a flight school in SW Florida that's been looking for CFI's for a while now.

7. Are there truly a large number of highly qualified pilots with thousands of hours (many of them jet hrs) who are actively looking, but cannot find a job?
Yep...but they're looking for different types of jobs than you would be right out of school. Many aren't willing to move for a job, nor are they willing to take a job at 1/3 of the pay they were making previously. I can't say I blame them.

8. Are the prospects of quality pilot jobs and pilot earning power truly as bleak as many former and current pilots report? -- If so, this would be a crushing reality to many hopefuls. I'm hoping the glass can be seen as half-full if you're looking from the right vantage point.


I don't think it's as bad as some make it sound like, but then again, what do I know....I'm just a frac/corporate pilot. There will always be jobs out there - it just depends on whether you fit the job or not.

9. Is the future of the airline pilot profession improving, leveling off, or going down?
I, personally, think this is just the beginning of a long, downhill slide for the Majors in terms of pilot pay, work conditions, etc.. The LCC's and freight carriers seem to be the way to go now. I don't have apps in with anybody but a few of the LCC's and 2 cargo carriers.

I want to thank each of you who respond to this post. The valuable insight offered by you, experienced, successful pilots, could be the direction needed by many, many pilots, like me, who are standing at the same point in the crossroads.
Keep in mind, all of this is just MY OPINION, and nothing else. Some will say my uninformed opinion. They may be correct....they may not be. Only time will tell. Good luck!
 

bobbysamd

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Riddle C(R)APT

witman77 said:
The CAPT program claims to have designed a brand new approach to getting us wannabe pilots into the airlines. They claim to place a greater amount of focus in the "quality" of the training. You don't get any CFI certificates, but you do get a commercial mult-engine; instrument rating; and a MD-90 EFD type rating. Their course is $80,000 and can be completed in twelve months.

Since CAPT graduates do not get a CFI in their program, their is no CFI job offer. So, how does a new graduate earn a living unless they are offered an airline or corporate pilot position? This seems an unlikely event or could a graduate of the CAPT program, with their "unique" training likely get a pilot position? If not, these new graduates will have a very large debt and no "obvious" way to earn a living and no way to start paying on the rather large $80k debt.
I was a flight instructor at ERAU in Prescott; in fact, I gave Falcon Capt. a stage check fourteen years ago. For a place that gave me my first (and best) job, and where I learned so much, and for such a venerable institution, seeing it stoop to offering semi-P-F-T really bothers me.

The program is prohibitively expensive, especially for what you're earning. The CAPT program claims that by earning an MD-90 type that you will prove to regional airlines that you know systems and can be trained and typed. For one thing, regional airlines do not fly MD-90s (DC-9s); they fly CRJs, ERJs, Saabs, B1900s, Dashs, etc., so an MD-90 type proves nothing, especially without time in type to back up the rating. Moreover, the regionals do not expect new-hires to have type ratings in the equipment they fly. If you have Citation, Lear or big Kingair types, etc. and time in type, fine. But presenting a transport-category type is absurd - and a ripoff.

When evaluating schools, one major consideration is the number of tangible credentials you will earn for the money. Especially important are the credentials which will find you work the fastest. You do need a Commercial-Instrument-Multi. You can take the $80K you would spend on CAPT to, e.g., FlightSafety, and earn these ratings, a single-engine Commercial and at least two of your CFI tickets. Your CFI tickets are what will find you work, not an MD-90 type rating. You might need a little more for everything. So, what presents the better value?

For that matter, Comair (DCA) is a better value than CAPT. Based on personal experience, I do not care for the place, but people who have gone through the program have earned all their ratings and have been hired by Comair Airlines.

Finally, Mesa Airlines Pilot Development costs about $45K-$50K. MAPD is different than other schools because CFI certificates are not part of the program. An A.S. in Aviation Technology from San Juan College is included and the possibility of interviewing at Mesa Airlines upon graduation is its attraction.

Along with Riddle, I was a flight instructor and FlightSafety and MAPD. I disagree with advice to stay away from large schools. The benefits of a large school include a Part 141 syllabus, which makes them formal schools, and the preparation, discipline and momentum schools imply. If you must prepare for each flight and be ready to learn, in other words, go to class and study, you will achieve, build momentum in your training, and end up learning more, better and faster, and possibly cheaper in the long run. I trained under Part 61 and did most of my instructing under Part 141, so I've seen it from both sides of the desk.

Hope that helps a little more. Good luck with your choice of training providers.
 
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flx757

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For what it's worth (and personally, I think it says a lot about the school that touts it...), there is NO SUCH THING as an "MD-90" type rating. It is a DC-9. The same as ALL variants of the DC-9...and the MD-80, and the MD-90, and the B-717. They all share the same type rating...DC-9.
 

IP076

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joeg252 said:
Do yourself a favor and stay away from those big name flight schools, you don't need them. They hold that airline interview in front of your face like a danling carrot. They pay you crap as a flight instructer, which is pretty degrading to the proffesion. Also the flight instructing phase of most of those programs can last up to two years, with no raises.

I graduated from Riddle a few years ago (I think you were actually referring to DCA, MAPD, and such) ....I instructed there for two years, and I can honestly say that my earnings there were as much, if not more than, I've earned anywhere else.

I'd venture a guess that one would have to do a lot of XT's to get to 160k for college and flying there! I did it about 1/2 as long ago as Falcon Capt for about 90k....Degree, and all flying thru MEI. I understand its gone up since then, but I think you would almost have to try and spend that much there!
 

Jedi_Cheese

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In many ways, getting your ratings/degree from *insert large name pilot school* and your local college with a flight program or FBO are much the same. It's the total time and basic ratings that will get you your first job, an DC-9 type doesn't matter to a guy trying to find someone to teach student pilots. The only advantage at *insert large name pilot school* is that the quality of the instruction is known in advance AND you will create friends that can hook you up with jobs later on (this should be the TRUE selling point of a large school but it's a hard sell to people that are looking at schools and their family doesn't have pilots in it).

I figure that I will spend ~$20k for a college degree from an accredited college and another ~$20k for my flight ratings. I have been able to work summers/nights/weekends and so far, I have no debt and will be debt free when I graduate with ASEL/AMEL/ASES/CFI/CFII/MEI. I worked my @ss off to do it and learned all sorts of skills to save money and earn money on the side.
 

de727ups

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Huh?
witman77

First of all...the bulk of your post relates to the claims of some of the large schools. I'd take the claims of DCA and CAPT with a grain of salt. It's marketing and half truths at it's worst. ATP doesn't seem to go to the same lengths with their claims as many schools do.

Secondly, it ISN'T all about the job. It should be about you having the time and experience under your belt to be a professional pilot. Too many schools talk about "direct tracks" to a job or interview...but do they talk about quality training from seasoned instructors? That's what's important in my book. 300 hour pilots don't belong in airline cockpits. I don't care what school they went to.
 

JetBlast2000

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In addition, add at least 20% to the time and cost for ANY program. I taught at a major flight school for over 2 years. I saw MAYBE a handful of people finish in the time and cost they were quoted. Many of my friends who went other places saw the same thing. They key to survival and the fast track is…. Hard Work.

Good luck.

JB2k
 

JimNtexas

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"Their course is $80,000 and can be completed in twelve months."

Gee whiz, for $80K you could buy your own plane and fly it for a thousand hours, getting all your single ratings from independant CFIs who have real professional experience (as opposed to the guy who was two months ahead of you in your high dollar flight school) and log some significant flying time.

At the end of it you'd be able to sell your plane for most of what you paid for it and have enough to buy a B737 type that might someday do you some good.
 
3

350DRIVER

The quickest and best route in my opinion is by way of the Mesa Airlines Pilot Development Program (MAPD). You will earn everything, nothing is given to you on a silver platter and by the time you have completed the program you are airline ready to go into either the Dash-8, 1900, CRJ, or ERJ. They teach you the "airline way" from day1. I have not seen a better program that gives low time students this opportunity to be safe, proficient, and competent airline pilots at such a low total time. The bottom line is that this program works well, extremely well.



I would seriously suggest looking into this program. When younger pilots ask for my advice and opinion I tell then to speak directly to the Mesa folks out in Farmington. Mr. Castle is the mastermind behind all this success and my hat is off to him.


good luck.

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