ATP vs Bob Crystal


New Member
I have a question regarding ATP's multi engine program and I am hoping to get some help from anyone who has any insight on the subject. I am scheduled to take ATP's 10 hr multi program in August. I have read thier supplement along with the complete multi engine pilot by Bob Gardner. Today, I decided to call Bob Crystal at Simulator & Instrument Training Center in Van Nuys (Bob writes for Plane and Pilot magazine so maybe some of you are familiar with him) because I heard he rents an Aztec and I was curious how much it costs as well as check out requirements. Bob asked me my total hours along with some other questions and said he would not rent me the aircraft unless I did the training with him or I had the required multi time ( no surprise there). I talked with him about my plans to attend ATP, and that after that I was hoping to gain experience with some other MEI pilots that I know locally. Bob claims that ATP's program is marginal at best and that if I really want to learn to fly multi-engine like a true pro, I should consider another course of training than ATP because according to Bob, ATP's price is a come-on and that most people do not finish for the price claimed by ATP. I know that Bob is a considered an authority, but at 200 an hour(wet) for the aircraft along with 75 an hour to train with Bob, I'm not sure what I should do. Bob told me that if I train with him I could fly on the occasional trips(6-7hrs) that are made in the Aztec (one way) to texas( unpaid...Is this considered PFT?, I don't think it is a revenue trip but I am not sure). I also would have to pay for my own airfare back. I then asked him how many students participate in this program and he indicated that not many and that I would get plenty of chances to fly this trip. Because of the vast experience of some of the pilots on this forum I would like to know what some of you think. Thanks in advance for the advice.
I'll say that I took the ATP program and finished at exactly the quoted price. The only time you will go over is if you bust the checkride or you REQUEST two additional hours of training at $170/hour total. If you bust, you go up for one more hour of training at $170 and then retake the checkride. Bust again, and your dropped from the program. So not much more room there to go over. I was very impressed by the knowledge of the Seminole the instructors have (mine had over 1200 hours of multi-time, 1400 total). Granted, you only learn enough to pass the checkride, but, what do you expect for 10 hours of flight? Even at DCA you only are 'scheduled' for 15-20 hours of flight time in the Seminole. I'd say my skill level is on-par with one of the friends that I still know from my time at DCA.
One thing you have to realize is that with 10 hours of multi time and a private multi rating your own mother would not rent you a twin to take out on your own......
One thing I have found is that a lot of people don't like ATP, and it is usually rooted in the economy and efficiency of ATP compared to their own operation. ATP is extremely demanding on the student, to study and know the material and be very current on instrument flight in your particular program. I needed 6.5 hours in the Seminole to pass my multi-private checkride, and was very confident. Bear in mind this is after maybe 6-8 hours in a simulator going over procedures, which you will also do if going to ATP. The price is as others have noted, fixed.

The possibility of riding along on trips in his Aztec is interesting and a great way to build time, but why only one way?

If you know the Seminole supplement cold, and have read the excellent book by Bob Gardner, you will be well prepared for ATP. I'm sure Mr. Crystal offers excellent instruction, however it appears that he just doesn't like ATP.
I did the ATP 10 hour Comm Multi Instrument program recently. It was fast paced, hard, and I had to work at it to be succesful. I finished in the alotted time. I found the ATP instructors and aircraft to be very reliable (at SAC).

Do I expect to walk out of that experience and get a job?? Of course not, that's ridiculous. I would not even apply to my mother. what multi program out there will train you to hiring mins anyways...
I have been an MEI at ATP for the past year and was recently hired into the ERJ at Chautauqua Airlines. I have dealt with Mr. Crystal twice when I inquired about getting checked out in a single for fun trips with the family. On both occaisons Mr. Crystal went out of his way to virulently bad mouth ATP and the people that run the company. The only clue I have as to his continued bias was his cryptic referral in the first conversation to ATP refusing to buy a sim from him some time back. After listening to him tell me how little I get paid compared to other flight schools (I do just fine, thank you very much), how poor the quality of instruction is (I have signed off 114 instrument through ATP students with only 9 busts), and how unscrupulous the management from ATP is (they are collectively gentlemen and men of their word), I once again reminded Mr. Crystal that I had not called to discuss the merits of ATP, but instead to possibly offer him business in the form of aircraft rental. After telling him that I had 1000+ hours, 900 multi and 780 dual given, Mr. Crystal told me that I would have to pay for a two hour check out in the aircraft and even longer for the instructor. Not wanting to shell out over $300 for a checkout, I reminded him that I was not some low-time pilot that presented an insurance risk. Instead of working out a mutaully acceptable agreement, Mr. Crystal instead haughtily informed me about his vast experience in aircraft and let me know just how few 1000 hours was. It was at this point that I told Mr. Crystal that I did not want to get into a pissing match over logbooks with him and that I would take my business elsewhere.

Since that conversation, I have heard from a few other people that have nothing to do with ATP that Mr. Crystal has gone out of his way to badmouth our company to them as well. I had not heard of him telling others that our price is a "come on" that will never be met, so his other arguments must be losing steam. I can tell you this, I left flight training with the FBO's like Mr. Crystal's because I could not find one that could give me an honest answer as to realistic flight trainging costs. My training at ATP cost exactly the price that was quoted -- and you will not find a student who tells you otherwise. As I progress through aviation, it is my hope that I can steer well clear of the bitter bad-mouthers like Mr. Crystal who so frequently try to make sure that others hear their rant and agree with their unique point of view.

If you are looking for somebody to share time with in a twin after getting your rating, there are a number of MEI's in the local area who would love the chance to build time and see some new places without having to spend the entire flight watching a student do stalls, slow flight, power-on, power-off, etc.....

If you have any question about the quality of our training at ATP or your ability to finish on time and on budget, please call the 800 number and ask them to transfer your call to the Riverside office. I'll be more than happy to speak to you or to give you the names and phone numbers of some of our former students.

Wow! I have read reviews on the ATP website as well as coments made here at jetcareers about you at the Riverside location(All good reviews I might add!)Thanks for your insight on this situation regarding mr Crystals comments, I guess he is looking to sell his sevices anyway he can but after reading the many posts on this and other websites, along with your post, I feel much better about my decision to train at ATP. It just so happens I will be training at the Riverside location and with any luck I will get you as my instructor.
"Bob claims that ATP's program is marginal at best and that if I really want to learn to fly multi-engine like a true pro, I should consider another course of training than ATP because according to Bob, ATP's price is a come-on and that most people do not finish for the price claimed by ATP"

Just speculating.. but I think Bob probably assumed ATP was like all the other big academies..

ATP's rate is a flat rate, it isn't a price quoted based off hourly rates...

Edit: After reading some posts maybe Bob has a bone to dig and I won't get into it..
all i can say is that i'm about about 2/3rd's of the way through the program and so far everything has happened exactly the way atp told me it would and i haven't paid a cent over what they said it would cost. i can also say, so far, it's the best decision i've ever made. my two cents for what it's worth
all i can say is that i'm about about 2/3rd's of the way through the program and so far everything has happened exactly the way atp told me it would and i haven't paid a cent over what they said it would cost. i can also say, so far, it's the best decision i've ever made. my two cents for what it's worth

[/ QUOTE ]

Glad it's workin' out for you Hollywood!
Hope ya got permission to post a private message

So what exactly about ATP doesn't he like, the lack of instruction time in the ME addon program?.. I wouldn't want to get my ME in just 10 hours either, personally, but I also believe to be true that your capacity to learn is up to you- not everyone is going to be able to learn the same in the same amount of time. If you don't feel you are ready to take the practical, don't take it! That is your responsibility, you're paying for it! Of course the MEI shouldn't sign you off until they think you are ready...

A lot of ranting in the message doesn't have anything to do with ATP, so it's kind of confusing!

So.. 10 hours a bit too little for a multi engine addon? Maybe, but it has worked for many.

As it is irrelevant to me (since I am planning on going through the ACPP).. Good luck with your decision.
It seems to me like what hes trying to say is that ATP is nothing more than root knowledge. After reading this.. its the second time now in the past couple days that I've had former students tell me this. That ATP basically just teaches you the checkride.. Not sure if I'm still interested after hearing this kind of stuff.
So two students vs. What everyone else has had to say? Compare that to the proportion at any of the other schools on this board..

What he has said applies to the 10 hour multi-engine addon anyways, I'd hope you would still consider the ACPP if that's what you were plannin' on doin, they aren't even Part 141 (rushem out).

Ahh whatever

Bob Crystal's (who's information about ATP was wrong) and the private message posts are the only two bad message's I've ever seen about ATP my entire time here.
I think the point stands though. I'm interested in doing some work with ATP. They seem like they are a stand up outfit and give some of the best training out there. At the same time, be realisitic; is it possible to learn how to fly a new type of aircraft well in only 10 hours? I think it's akin to getting your private license; it's a licence to learn and not much more. Don't expect full utility out of 10 hours, and keep the rating in perspective. No one is going to be fully ready to deal with anything that might hit them after 10 hours in a Seminole. Additional training, and almost more than that; additional experience is a must after a rating like this. There is a reason you need to have a few hundred hours of multi before anyone will hire you for a real job.


John Herreshoff
I agree with you John, ATP may indeed only get you through the checkride, but at $1695.00 (w/instructor) for the course thats still a good deal (169.50 per hr,Hmmm,new aircraft,instructor, and unlimited sim time, make that a great deal!). I plan on going and getting my multi add on on the 16th of this month, do I expect to know everything about flying multi-engine, what I do expect is to get the rating and then take more instruction from a couple of local MEI's that I know to do two things, 1) be able to actually log PIC which I need and 2)learn the finer points of multi flying without the added burden of a checkride. In my opinion, all checkrides are just a snapshot of your ability at the time of the ride, experience is what eventually will make you better at the task at hand (hopefully). What I have gotten out of this post, along with all the comments submitted by those for and against ATP is that ATP delivers what they promise, just don't expect miracles. Also, those who bad mouth other programs seem to do so for various reasons, they either were unable to complete the program and need to blame something other than themselves (typical in todays society, but don't get me going) or they are looking to drum up business for themselves ( since I have a sales backround, I have no respect for anyone who needs to resort to this tacktic, it is better to point out your advantages as a company rather than point fingers claiming the other guys are "no good') After all my questions,opinions and research I will attend ATP and after my experience, I will post the results for those who care to read them.
While I'm at it, I would like to clear something else up regarding the posting of private messages. I seem to have struck a nerve on another board because I posted the PM I recieved last night. The following is my reply. "So another words you think its ok to express slanderous opinions in private but not an open forum? If you want to talk crap but only behind someones back thats your problem. I did not post this persons name or tail number and I did not ask for them to send anything private to me, fair warning.. if you send a private message that you are afraid will become public, then ask that it is not repeated, or better yet keep your opinion to yourself. Additionally, I did not say anything negative about the person that PM'ed me, they however had plenty of "slanderous" statements to say about the subject at hand, so, who exactly would you say would be accused of slander? Get real.
I will continue to post any information, opinion or anything else anyone has to say unless of course they specifically ask me not too. I was always taught too stand up for what you believe in, don't lie, and don't talk the talk if you can't walk the walk. So if you can only make negative accusations behind someones back, don't bother,your comments are worthless since you lack the conviction to post them for everyone to read.
>>> During many points on the checkride the examiner had his hands on the controls and was forcing a left turn, while complaining about my not being able to hold heading.

So ask him who has the flight controls. I had an examiner test my "PIC mentality" on a similar note. Asked him to remove his feet from the rudders, and he grinned and nodded his head.

>>>Two were due to MEIs doing instrument approaches to minimums with one engine feathered, no survivors.

Who the He** flies practice approaches with an engine shut down and feathered?? That's dangerous, something we never did at ATP and I would never do.

>>>Going further north, there was a recent 'could have happened to any of us' accident, both survived, where an ATP twin clipped a mountain. The technology in that cockpit was more than adequate to have prevented the accident, but for some reason it was not used.

I think they're looking at the controller on that one.

>>>ATPs will not train you to react properly under the stress of a real emergency in a twin.

Depends on the person. I have experienced a real engine failure in poor weather, and just did what I was trained to secure the engine and land on a single engine. Very calm, no drama, no panic. I think a lot of this depends on the person involved, but only they can decide is some additional training might be beneficial.

On a side note, I've heard some excellent comments about Gene Hudson's school. Wish I wasn't on the wrong coast.
Re: ATP vs Bob Crystal... *snort*

I'm amused at this entire thread, Travis. I completely agree with your post, top-to-bottom.

I guess if you can bang out marginal pedestrian musings in a watered down, not-too-technical rag, you can vilify a company that clearly has a high success rate. Infact, you can take a bit of license and generate total falsehoods! Whahey!


Hope you're doing well, brother. Times is tough- but you STILL made it to the show. I have one last thing to say- keep your chin up, and..

Vaya con dios.

*runs away laughing*

See you on the flipside.