Can anyone give me some objective opinions on ATA?


New Member
I am thinking about doing the phase II program. Has anyone done this program or know anyone who has done this program?
Please I don't want some radical person to reply, i'm looking for honest answers, and not political bulls**t.
Pilot Mark:

I am happy to give an objective opinion about ATA. It is a shame those are so hard to come by. As for my background, I was a student there for most of 2000, and finished in early 2001. I was hired by American Eagle, but now I am unfortunately on furlough.

First, I should tell you that overall, I was quite satisfied with the program. I got the job I wanted when I entered. It is true that it is not a perfect program, and I did have to put up with a lot of •. While I was there, and even now as I reflect on it, there were many things that were not good. I can bitch about those points with the best of the bitchers, but the fact is is that I actually became an FO with my target airline.

The negative points. First, student housing. Don't go there. It is very expensive, and you can get nicer housing for cheaper. I did student housing at first for 5 months, then I moved out and was much happier. I moved to the Cameron Wellington Apartment Complex. I highly recommend it. I had 2 roommates in a 3 bedroom apartment, and my share of the rent was just over $400. With utilities and digital cable, I was paying about $480/month. So look around for housing. If you need a place to stay at first, then just sign for student housing for a month or two.

Second: stage checks. I had many friends who had to wait a long time to get them, and several times they were not given priority when they should have been. The idea is good, in that it demands a standard level out of all the students, but with these checks, be prepared for headaches in trying to get them scheduled. But again, this varies from case to case. I personnally think they are not necessary and are a hinderance overall.

Third: management. While there are many people there that want and are willing to work with you and help you out, there are a few others in high places that severely lack interpersonal skills, which cause obvious headaches for students.

Fourth: pressure. I often felt pressured to fly even if I was feeling fatigued or not comfortable with the weather, as they don't like to cancell flights (as it costs them money when the planes are not flying). This is a real problem, as I think it is paramount in training to develope good judgment in these matters, and no one should ever feel pressured to fly, especially in a training environment. To this, all I can say is stick to your guns and do the right thing. Management should realize that if a student cancels a flight, that just means that it will take more time to finish, and thus equates to more money for them in the long run. Therefore they shouldn't be so upset about it. But hey, what's obvious to me may not be so to them.

Fifth: maintenance. I at times felt pressured not to write things up which should be written up. To this, once again I say: stick to your guns and do the right thing. If you write it up, it has to be addressed. By the way, to a certain extend and under various circumstances, the pressure to not write things up also exists in the real world.

Now for the good points, of which I personnally think make the program worthwhile. First: the standards are high. I got my private at a local FBO, and did the rest of my training at ATA. The differences are night and day. ATA demands professional standards of its students, whereas your local FBO does not. Also, the training at ATA goes much more in depth. I had to learn by memory and understanding countless things to minute details that made me a MUCH better pilot with a MUCH better understanding of the airspace system, the aircraft I was flying, and of IFR procedures and charts. I know for a fact that I know the FARs, Jepp charts, and various aspects of aerodynamics better than I would have had I not gone to ATA or another professional program. I cannot stress how grateful I am for that. It made transitioning to airline flying so much easier. Especially since I entered the airline already knowing complex yet important FARs particular to 121 flying.

Second: crew concept. This was great. It really did prepare me for working as part of a crew. Flying the line we do it like in AirStage II, one person flies (the easy job) and one person works all the radios and navegation. The practice with flying with call outs was invaluable. It sounds simple, and it is, but it is difficult if you are used to doing everything by yourself and not used to talking/stating things out loud for the benefit of another. Being used to it gave me much more confidence in training at Eagle.

Third: the instructors. Overall, many great instructors work there, or at least while I was there. I guess I can only speak for myself, and I was very satisfied with the ones I had.

Fourth: Airstage II. Well worth it. The ground schools in this part of the program are EXCELLENT. I couldn't fathom entering ground school at Eagle without the knowledge I gained in Airstage II ground schools. I can tell you for a fact that the instructors in my new-hire class had a much harder time understanding certain new concepts, such as turbine engines, 121 regulations, and aircraft systems, than I did (I don't mean to sound snobbish, it was difficult for me too, but the previous exposure I had at ATA helped me immensely). Also, the flying in Airstage II was FUN. I understand the flying part of the program may be slightly modified than when I did it, but all I can say is I have many fond memories from it.

Well, that's about all I can think of, good and bad. My own opinion is is that it was worth it. I have some friends who did not finish the program and left frustrated. All I can say is that each person has his/her own experience. I was lucky and mine was positive, but yes with many headaches and frustrations too. But I cannot complain as I achieved my goal. My advice at this point in time though is to consider holding off. There are many furloughed pilots out on the street, with lots of experience and lots of time. I know at Eagle we have just over 300 pilots on furlough, and it is questionable as to when we will start to be called back. My guess is the earliest possible would be the middle of next year, being optimistic (despite rumors that Eagle will call back in January...not true).

Anyway, I hope this helps.
Thanks for all the info you provided! Very useful! Specially since I am currently signed up for the Feb class. But you pointed out one thing that I was trying to tell people, that being ATA stands by their record of sending 98% of their students to AME. Providing that you stick with them even through all the "headach", that will get you to the airline.

I would like to ask you if the apartment you got was furnished or not, and if not did everyone pitch in for it? I put a deposit for student housing but am rethinking it because of the price and restrictions.
Also ATA sent me a letter saying that American Eagle told ATA to prepare for a Feb class, not sure what that means since they will have to recall all the pilots. does that sound right about recalls in Feb?



I should have mentioned the apartment did not come furnished, we had to rent furniture from Cort Furniture. The front office of the apartment complex can hook you up with that. The amount of rent I was paying (I said about $480) included what I was paying for furniture. The apartment itself was about $1017/month, which we split 3 ways.

As for a FEB class at Eagle, don't count on it. I don't know where they are getting this information, but this is not true. At this point in time, Eagle has no plans to call back furloughed pilots in the immediate future. As I said, best case scenario looks like middle of next year. Once they start to call us back, it will probably take about 4 months to get us all back, so your looking at an earliest class date for new hires of the end of next year. I should also mention that our contract with our Flow Thru agreement has some restrictions. We are not allowed to expand if American has pilots on furlough. So, at the moment, Eagle is stuck on the seat capacity that we had on Oct 1. So I doubt Eagle will be able to hire anyone until AA has all its pilots back from furlough. No one knows when that may happen. The good news is is that AA and Eagle are, at least for the time being and forseeable future, done with furloughs. Eagle may have to furlough a few more pilots once the numbers are worked out on how many AA pilots are flowing back.

But my advice is this: hang tight. Eagle will most likely need pilots in the future, once things stabilize and AA resumes normal operations. But don't expect this to happen before the end of next year. I also wouldn't believe rumors to the contrary nor would I base important decisions on those rumors. Good Luck!
i am cuurently a student a ata. there is • to deal with at the school, that's for sure, but mark brown (sp) who is in charge of recruitment at eagle is coming to ata in december to talk to us. he has said some furloughed pilots will not be welcome back at eagle because of bad attitudes. he talks of class start dates slated for jan/feb of 2002.
in regards to my last post, i don't know how that's possible because of contract bounds, once employed under contract, they had to keep you. but we were also told by mark brown that the number on furlough is actually 197. about 100 of which were recalled to guard duty. so less than 100 on actual furlough.
i am not on this site to fight with people, i am only passing on information that is given to us at ata. if i am in fact wrong, than forgive me, but this is a forum where opinions and rumors are posted. not where people take things personally, and rip in to people.
we were in fact told of a feb. 2002 class date for ata grads at eagle, along with a visit from mr. brown in december. this is what we are told at ata, if someone else knows different, then please post a pleasant reply.

[ November 29, 2001: Message edited by: djed ]
Hey djed

I'm with you on that this is a discussion forum and not a place to rip people. Please post any info concerning this December meeting with Mr. Brown over what Eagle and ATA will be doing next when you get it, I'm very curious myself since I have a class date in Feb.

Thanks to all
Hey djed:

Believe what you want. It is unfortunate that this rumor of a FEB class is going around. Believe me, I am grateful to ATA for getting me here, and would love this rumor to be true (as it would mean I would be returning to work soon). But it is not, and I just think all of you should be made aware of truths, so that you can all plan accordingly. A most recent rumor floating around Eagle was that furloughed pilots were going to begin to be called back early next year (2002). This rumor was addresssed on our AE pilot web page, and was confirmed to be JUST A RUMOR, with no merit. Currently, furloughed pilots are not going to be called back early next year, of course, this could all change with the wind. But Eagle cannot hire new pilots without first offering recall to all furloughed pilots.
As for the number of pilots on furlough, there have been several waves of furloughs, and with the most recent (11/1), the total comes to just over 300. As for the number of pilots called to active duty in the reserves, I have no idea.
So, believe what you want. I don't say this to be negative nor to be discouraging. On the contrary. I tell you this so that you can make sound decisions based on the most valid information. I just wouldn't expect hiring to go on as normal, as these conditions are far from it. I hope no one is discouraged, as things will invariably pick up in the near future (I hope). If you don't expect to finish training until late next year, then I wouldn't worry too much anyway.
Just my two cents.
Cheers all.
Captain Mark Brown is a good friend of mine and I talk with him on occasion. He has not visited ATA in the last 5 months. This is his words. Now, lets get back to you. Foot-in-mouth must have a hold of you with the statement of "furloughed pilots not called back because of bad attitudes". Don't listen to the rumors, for they will get you into more trouble than they are worth. It is a growing-up process that you obviously do not understand. Listen lots and talk less.
hello all,
i hope for all of us, things change as soon as possible. i will advise if mr. brown does come to ata in december as planned, and i will forward information he gives.
i will watch what i believe, but i come from a big family of current airline pilots, so i do hear another side other than ata. ata has been known to lie on occasion as some of you know.
It was a statement, not a request/ or thank you so therefore de nada ( your welcome ) does not apply.

[ November 30, 2001: Message edited by: ERJ145 ]

[ November 30, 2001: Message edited by: ERJ145 ]
Check out the website and under forums look up flight training. These academies have had their fair share of problems especially ATA.
Ask anybody at ATA that has a memory, a truthful diposition, and is employed in a management capacity about the following N-number: 5357M.

How that plane went from Bourland Flight Academy as a sweet little VFR C-152 to a repainted swath of debris (both human and aircraft) under a thunderstorm in central Texas is a fascinating, tragic story.

I have never - repeat, never - heard a single positive statement about that organization. Most of the horror stories involve money problems, the 5357M story involves a chain of events that should have been broken early on.

Don't go. Simply stay away.

Your post/warning stirred me to look up the NTSB report. What's the backstory?

On September 25, 2000, at 0115 central daylight time, a Cessna 152 airplane, N5357M, was destroyed when it impacted terrain following a loss of control near Navasota, Texas. The airplane was registered to the Airline Training Academy (ATA) Inc., of Orlando, Florida, and operated by ATA Inc., of Arlington, Texas. The instrument rated private pilot and his passenger were fatally injured. Dark night instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 flight. The cross-country flight originated from the Easterwood Field Airport, College Station, Texas, approximately 0035, and was destined for the Arlington Municipal Airport, Arlington, Texas.

According to transcripts provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), on September 24, 2000, at 1134, and then at 1322, the pilot of N5357M contacted the Montgomery County Automated Flight Service Station (CXO AFSS) and received two separate standard weather briefings for a visual flight rules (VFR) flight from the Sugarland Municipal Airport, Houston, Texas, to the Arlington Municipal Airport. Both weather briefers informed the pilot of weather advisories and a convective sigmet for thunderstorm activity along the route of flight, an airmet for IFR conditions for the Dallas-Forth Worth area, and a line of thunderstorms moving from the northwest, across Texas, to the southeast. However, the conditions for the route of flight up to Waco, Texas, were reported as suitable for VFR flight. Both briefers stated that VFR flight was not recommended into the Dallas-Fort Worth area. During the first briefing the pilot stated that they needed to be in Arlington "by in the morning," and during the second briefing, he stated that they needed to try and "make it back." Subsequently, the airplane departed Houston for Waco.

At 1543, while in-flight, the pilot of N5357M contacted Houston Flight Watch. He received updated weather for his route of flight and, subsequently, diverted to the Easterwood Field Airport.

At 1625, while on the ground at the Easterwood Field Airport, the pilot of N5357M contacted the CXO AFSS, and requested weather for a VFR flight to the Arlington Municipal Airport. The weather briefer informed the pilot that VFR flight was not recommended and that a front was passing over the Easterwood Field Airport at that time. The briefer added that a VFR flight would not be possible behind the front; however, if the pilot held off "three hours and [departed] after dark behind this frontal system [he would] probably have some lower clouds, but at least [he wouldn't] have the convective activity to deal with."

At 1645, according to a fuel log sheet from the Easterwood Field Airport, the airplane was fueled with 7.1 gallons of 100LL fuel. Airport personnel reported that the airplane's fuel tanks were topped off.

At 2118, the pilot of N5357M contacted the CXO AFSS and received a standard weather briefing for a flight from the Easterwood Airport to the Arlington Municipal Airport. The briefer informed the pilot of rain, 40-knot winds at the 3,000-foot level, and a convective sigmet along the route of flight. The pilot stated that the airport would be closing in 45 minutes and that he had no place to stay. The briefer offered the possibility of a hotel or a cot at the airport; however, the pilot responded that he would "probably have to try to get out."

At 2357, the pilot of N5357M contacted the CXO AFSS and filed an IFR flight plan from the Easterwood Field Airport to the Arlington Municipal Airport. The pilot did not request additional weather; however, after the pilot filed the flight plan, the briefer asked the pilot if he was aware of the thunderstorm activity along the route of flight. The pilot responded that he was and added that "we've been sitting here for like five hours." Subsequently, the pilot asked for a "quick briefing." The briefer reported VFR conditions at the weather reporting stations along the route of flight.

On September 25, 2000, at 0037, the pilot of N5357M contacted the Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center and received an IFR clearance to the Arlington Municipal Airport. At 0052, the pilot reported that the "vacuum system [was] gone" and that he was disoriented. The air traffic controller asked the pilot if he wanted to return to the airport and fly the VOR 28 approach; the pilot responded in the affirmative. The controller provided radar vectors to the pilot and instructed the pilot to intercept the 100 degree radial inbound to College Station. The controller then observed the airplane fly through the radial and instructed the pilot to fly a heading of 050 degrees to re-intercept the radial.

At 0107, the pilot reported that it was "getting a little rough" and said "there's a problem I need some help." The pilot stated that he was "losing it," and the controller issued a new heading to the pilot. The pilot then stated that he was "losing altitude like crazy" and that he was having difficulty maintaining a heading. The controller then informed the pilot that the approach would be a "no gyro" approach (Airport Surveillance Approach) and instructed the pilot to turn left. The pilot acknowledged, and according to the radar controller, the airplane appeared to be in a left turn. The controller then asked the pilot if he recalled what the cloud bases were near the airport; the pilot responded 1,200 feet. The controller informed the pilot that he would set him up for the VOR 28 approach and asked the pilot if he had the approach plate. The pilot responded negative.

Between 0111 and 0115, the controller continued the no gyro approach. At 0114:15, the controller instructed the pilot to turn left and the pilot acknowledged. At 0114:58, the controller asked the pilot to confirm that he was making a left turn, and the pilot responded affirmative. At 0115:00, the controller informed the pilot that it appeared as if he were making a right turn. Subsequently, the airplane disappeared from radar and radio calls to the pilot were unanswered.

At 0900, the airplane was located by the Civil Air Patrol in a pasture on a private ranch, 15.6 miles southeast of the College Station VOR navigational facility.


The pilot and passenger were students at the Airline Training Academy Inc., based in Arlington, Texas.

On June 22, 2000, the pilot was issued a private pilot certificate (airplane single-engine land), and on August 18, 2000, he was issued an instrument rating (airplane). As of September 21, 2000, the pilot had accumulated a total of 140.8 flight hours, of which 138.2 hours were in a Cessna 152. According to the pilot's flight logbook, he had accumulated a total of 16.1 hours at night, 30.4 hours in simulated instrument conditions, and 2.5 hours in actual instrument flight conditions. At the time of the accident, the pilot was accumulating flight time to meet the requirements for a commercial pilot certificate. He held an FAA second class medical certificate with no limitations or waivers, which was issued on April 18, 2000.

The passenger had successfully completed the FAA written test for the private pilot certificate; however, he had not obtained a student pilot certificate at the time of the accident.


The 1981 model, red and white, Cessna 152, was equipped with a 115-horsepower Lycoming O-235-N2C engine and a 2-bladed McCauley fixed pitch propeller. On April 14, 2000, the altimeter and static pressure system underwent its most recent inspection. On June 2, 2000, the airplane underwent its most recent annual inspection at a total time of 6,506.3 flight hours. On August 29, 2000, the airplane underwent its most recent 100-hour inspection at a total time of 6,607.2 hours. At the time of the accident, the engine had accumulated a total of 966.8 hours since its last overhaul, and the airframe had accumulated a total of 6,647.1 flight hours.

The airplane was equipped with a dry-air vacuum pump that was manufactured by Airborne, Inc. (part number 211CC). The pump underwent its last overhaul on October 8, 1998, 966.8 hours prior to the accident.


At 0053, the weather observation facility at the Easterwood Field Airport (located 15.6 miles northwest of the accident site) reported the visibility as 10 statue miles, an overcast sky at 1,900 feet agl, wind from 320 degrees at 8 knots, temperature 63 degrees Fahrenheit, dewpoint 59 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 30.09 inches of Mercury.


A GPS receiver recorded the accident location at 030 degrees 29.470 minutes north latitude and 096 degrees 09.407 west longitude. The linear energy path measured 550 feet from the initial impact point and was oriented 349 degrees magnetic. The initial impact scar consisted of a central crater surrounded by a pattern of indentations corresponding to landing gear and wing leading edges. The left and right wings separated from the airframe and came to rest 45 feet and 100 feet from the initial impact scar, respectively. The main wreckage, which consisted of the propeller, cabin area, instrument panel, empennage, and tail section was located 200 feet from the initial impact scar. The engine came to rest 251 feet from the initial impact scar. The final airplane components located along the distribution path were the left and right main landing gear wheels, which were 460 feet and 550 feet from the initial impact scar, respectively.

The cockpit fuel selector was found in the ON position. The flaps were found in the retracted position; however, the cockpit flap control lever and indicator were found indicating 10 degrees extended. The engine tachometer was recovered and its needle was found indicating 2,525 RPM. All other cockpit instruments and switches sustained damage.

The propeller assembly separated from the engine's crankshaft flange and all of the propeller attachment bolts were sheared off. One propeller blade was bent aft 10 degrees at the mid-point of the blade and exhibited leading edge polishing and "S" type bending. The second propeller blade was bent aft 150 degrees at the mid-point of the blade and exhibited leading edge polishing, chordwise scratching and "S" type bending.

The engine was found in the inverted position. Rotation of the crankshaft and a compression check were not possible due to impact damage to the engine. The exhaust and engine accessories, except for a portion of the right magneto and the vacuum pump's housing, separated from the engine.

The aft section of the vacuum pump housing separated along with the internal rotor and vane components. Five vanes were recovered from the accident site and were undamaged. The rotor was found fractured in four pieces. The vacuum pump drive shaft was intact and undamaged. The vacuum system air filter was clean; however, it sustained impact damage.

The attitude indicator and heading indicator (vacuum driven gyroscopic flight instruments) were recovered and disassembled at the accident site. Their internal rotor housings and brass mass rotors displayed rotational scoring. The turn and slip indicator (electrically driven gyroscopic flight instrument) was also disassembled at the accident site. Rotational scoring was observed on the rotor mass and its housing.


Autopsies were performed on the pilot and passenger by the Bexar County Medical Examiner's Office of San Antonio, Texas. Toxicological testing on the pilot was performed by the FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The test results revealed that the pilot was negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and drugs. The report revealed 45 mg/dl, mg/hg ethanol detected in blood and 4 mg/dl, mg/hg acetaldehyde detected in blood; however, according to the report, the ethanol detected was "the result of postmortem ethanol formation and not from the ingestion of alcohol."


The wreckage was released to the owner's representative on March 12, 2001.