I attended ATOP back in July of 2000 when it was still being operated at the United Airlines Training Center (or Training Kingdom as they called it) in Denver. At the time I was a private pilot with a little instrument experience. I just wanted to do it to gain insight to what the training environment was like at a major airline. I was really impressed.
The two-day course is taught by Wayne Phillips, who is a great guy and excellent instructor (you might recognize him if you read Flight Training magazine because he writes aviation career and collegiate aviation articles). You begin by doing a tour of the facilities and checking out the simulators. It gave me my first glimpse at a level D simulator, the best being the 777 with the avionics on. After that you go back to the classroom and begin an intro on the systems of the 737-200 (at the time). It is really interesting to learn the basics and it is greatly beneficial for future systems classes. After lunch, you run through some mock scenarios and start-up flows in the procedure trainers to get a feel for things. After a little more ground school you are done for the day and he assigns "homework" and lets you know what to expect the following day.
On day two, we completed our intro ground school and had an airline career forum where Wayne gives you insights to the industry, career paths, what to expect, interview tips, etc. This was a lot of fun and is a real motivation boost for the apsiring airline pilot. After lunch, you get to go "fly" in the sim. You have a partner during your sim session and you switch off as Captain and F/O, 30 mins of each. We went through the normal flows and shot an ILS into Denver, the whole time Wayne is sending system failures and weather anomolies your way to see how you react. It was a lot of fun having an emergency thrown at us and having to resolve with the proper methods. It's also a great intro to using CRM techniques on the flight deck. After your ride, you remain in the sim and sit behind the instructor station to observe the other pilots, which allows you to see the crew operations from another perspective. Overall, I absolutely had a blast. You get great insight to the training environment at the airlines, get to see what the level D simulators are like, meet some great people (networking), and best of all it allows you to boost your motivation and renew the pursuit of your dream! If you have the money and the time I would definately recommend it.
I'm still new to the group, but if anybody is considering this, I would be interested. They do offer a group rate and you can do your high-altitude endorsement (for a fee, of course), but I think it would be a great experience. I received some information from them a while back (about 3 months ago) and the gist of it is it's $435 per person, but 2 or more get $40 off. The high altitude endorsement is $150 more but :25 more minutes in the sim. You must stay a little extra time for the high altitude endorsement, though. Their web site is www.b737.com
If anybody is interested, I am considering doing it in the spring-time. E-mail me at email@example.com
I did the program over a year ago at the Continental training center, and I'd say it was worth it. I went down to attend the program and see if it would be beneficial to start a join-program with our school, so I was getting college credits for it too. Got the high altitude as well there.
I did the March or 2000 class in Denver at the UALTK.
It was alot of fun. Saturday was 737-200 systems. Then Sunday was the day for flying the sim. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get a taste of what airline groundschool is like. I even thought about doing it again just to try out the 737-300 in Houston.
At Alteon Training in Long Beach California, we give simulator rides in the 737NG, 717, and/or MD11 for $99 for 30 minutes. If you want to do a JetsCareer.com group thingie, let me know, I can arrange something.
Speaking of the MD-90 EFD, who operates that? I hear there are some in Saudi.
The MD-90 is such an awesome performer. Whenever we practice CFIT avoidance, whenever you push the throttles thru the ORT gate and start climbing, holy crap the thing is hard to level out! Power Power Power!
The simulator ride program is cheap and very good, the instructors love doing it. All are retired airline pukes and love fresh meat in the simulator. We have one instructor who flew the B52, B1, B2 while in the airforce which I think is amazing.
Any Jetcarrers.com member gets extra time, I schedule the instructor, so no worries there.
Everything looks wonderful. In fact, I will not only setup a visit to Alteon this summer for me I'll bring my wife along too for a ride. Looks like she'll get a kick out of it too.
Hey Doug, looks like we will do it sometime this summer, so if you and Kristie (or anyone else) want to hook up with us we are more than game.