By Steven Daun, National Chief Pilot
It seems like today, every advertisement for every flight school includes some type of airline academy. These words are usually surrounded by pictures of large airplanes and different airline logos. Some are quite impressive and even have pictures of student pilots in uniform. Then when you read the fine print, you will see things like “guaranteed interview” or “pipeline program.” But is this what really makes an airline academy program? No, it isn’t.
Student pilots pass checkrides from different schools every day. They all end up with the same certificates in the end. That is, they have their private, instrument, commercial, and multi-engine licenses and ratings. The next step is to get the coveted flight instructor certificate so you can build your hours. No matter what school you attend, if you let an airline know that you have about 1,500 hours, they will most likely grab you. They need pilots, and they will take what they can get from wherever they find you.
Things get real when you attend your technical interview and then begin class at the airline. If you do not have a solid base of knowledge and a solid foundation, you will most likely wash out of training. We see this over and over today. People enroll in programs because of the hype and not because of the quality of education but in the end, they pay the price when it’s too late.
You shouldn’t decide on a career program based on the “hype” or the price. You should decide based on which program will give you the best educational experience and foundation. This is what sets American Flyers apart from other schools and is why I am so proud to work for this organization. We know what you will need to be successful in your future. We also know what it takes to get you there. Yes, we have the same airline relationships as everyone else in the industry, but that is not what we highlight in our programs.
We offer both an airline academy and a one-on-one program for those students who wish to make a career in aviation. The American Flyers Airline Academy enables students to start the program together and support each other as they progress through their various certificates and ratings. Everyone wears a uniform, everyone has a flight bag, and every program is scheduled from the start to the end. This is how you build lifelong relationships and feel as though you are part of something bigger than yourself.
We also know that not everyone wants to be an airline pilot. This is what is unique about our academy program. Whether your goal is the airlines, corporate, or general aviation, this is the program for you. The focus of courses and instructors is based on professionalism and safety. This holds true no matter what size airplane you are going to fly.
An example of this is in the private pilot stage. A great deal of focus is placed on attitude flying while looking outside. Once you learn how to develop your sight picture, you can do so for any airplane in the future. This reduces your dependence on avionics and teaches you how to get the airplane to do what you want it to do.
As you progress into the instrument phase, you will realize that this is the most significant part of your program. The skills that you learn here will directly affect your performance for the rest of your career. If you come away from this training with a substantial foundation and skill level, you will be ready for just about whatever you may face along the way of your ultimate career path.
Why is this, you may be asking? This is because any job you obtain for either the airlines or corporate will most likely involve going to school for the aircraft you are going to fly. By having strong primary and instrument skills, you will be able to focus more on the aircraft and less on trying to make up for the lack of understanding of your primary skills. After all, this is the number one reason why pilots wash out of their airline or corporate classes.
On day one, you show up for orientation. You are given your uniforms, flight bag, training manuals, and your schedule. Your six-day per week schedule will include group ground school, dual training flights, or observation flights. Each step of the way, you will understand what you are doing and why you are doing it. You can plan on being at the school for a minimum of eight hours per training day. Once you earn your commercial pilot certificate, you will then begin your multi-engine training. Next comes the 30-day flight instructor academy, where we teach you how to teach. Here you will earn both your CFI-A and CFI-I.
As you can see, we are more concerned about the quality of education that you receive than anything else. We know that if you train correctly from the start, you will be set up for success.