No controversy, same thing people bag on ATP for--people who don't understand how the FARs could possibly permit two pilots to log PIC simultaneously.
Ari-Ben's got essentially the same program as ATP, minus the Citation rides. ATP however, has quite an established business offering add-on programs, particularly ATP certificates for military and other pilots headed for the majors, and with 22 offices offering these programs, they have a greater demand for instructors than Ari-Ben. For me, that's the main thing; I can get my certificates anywhere, but where do I have the best shot at a job doing nothing but advanced instruction? There as well, the edge goes to ATP. Also, as Socal pointed out, the contacts ATP's instructors make for that next job are as valuable as being an FSI grad.
I am now a CFI at Ari Ben. Finished last Thursday and already have a student.
Following is a post of mine from several weeks ago in the FBO thread....
I am a current student (working on CFII & single add-on).
Before moving my family 1/2 way across the country, I "interviewed" various schools. The "Aviator" (as it is know locally), was my last stop, and sealed the deal.
In seven months time, and 25G's later, I have gone from Multi Private to MEI. I arrived with my Private single. Had there not been some delays in my training (not due to the school), I could have progressed faster. The 6 months that they advertise is realistic if you are motivated and disciplined.
As far as two pilots logging PIC during the "time building phase", please review FAR's 61.51 (e)(1)(iii), then review 91.109 (b)(1)&(2). Additionally, John King endorses the method. If you have the joint King/Cessna "Cleared For Approach" book, please look at section 14-7 under "Safety Pilot". The Aviator operates under these regulations. Hardly illegal!
Jetcareers helped me define my flight training path. Thanks Doug!!! I too was a bit turned off by some of the negative feedback that I had read. Without a visit to the school, you are doing yourself a disservice. The instructors are very knowledgeable, anxious to teach, and do not have an attitude. There are no "in house examiners" for any checkrides. CFI's apply at the FSDO.
About the aircraft. They are not fabric covered. Yes they are older, but so are most GA planes out there. They are very well maintained, yet not as shinny as the ones across the field or at FSA in Vero. The interiors are not leather, or even pleather. I don't care. The cigar lighter is placarded inop.
The O-360's run when you want them to, and don't when you don't. I did have to make an actual SE landing once when I could not get it to restart. But that is what flight training is all about. What better environment to experience these situations in.
When my future employer looks through my logbook, is he going to ask me what year the Duchess was, or if it was waxed regularly?? I do know that he will be impressed with the plethora of multi time that will bite him in the nose, compared to my measly single time. In the time I have been here, I have had only one occasion in which I had to cancel a flight due to MX, and not been able to get another aircraft. Bottom line, the aircraft are safe!
Perhaps the biggest frustration to me at the school is the fuel truck. You can see a picture of it on their web site. Its a real piece of work, having a personality all its own, requiring MX often. They did however recently acquire another fuel tug that does help out. There are some funny stories about the truck. A mx guy fuels the aircraft most of the time, other times it is up to the students to fuel themselves.
There are students and instructors who started their training at other schools, and jumped ship to the Aviator. Some of whom are teaching there now. I assume business is good as there are more cars than parking spaces during weekdays.
There is not much overhead as far as staff, buildings, etc. It is a small operation. Therefore, costs to the student remain reasonable.
I am not an employee, just a satisfied customer.
Base you decision on actual visits to schools. Talk to instructors, students, mx people. Talk to them where they can speak freely (away from employing eyes and ears)
This is my contribution to this site and it's readers. Prior to my Ari Ben Aviator days, I too relied on others personal experiences. Hope you find this informative and helpful.
Others who have first hand knowledge of the school have also posted in the same area concerning the same subject.
ATP just felt better to me. I felt more comfortable and confident about ATP. I like the idea of actual X-country trips. The maintenance is what really sold me on ATP. It's superior to Ari-Ben's. It gives me piece of mind when I'm up in the air. Now I'm not saying that Ari-Ben flies rusty tin cans, but their aircraft aren't up to par with ATP's. Having that said, that doesn't gaurantee that nothing will happen when I'm up in the air. I just feel more confident with them. I had a limit on what I wanted to spend on my aviation education and Ari-Ben and ATP fit nicely into my budget. After I did some figuring, Ari-Ben would have saved me 7 grand for private pilot on. To get down to it, the main reasons I chose ATP over Ari-Ben were (in order) - #1 Maintenence, #2 Flying actual X-country, #3 Nice living quarters, #4 Gauranteed price, #5 Numerous locations across the nation, #6 Airline connections, #7 Citation ride
Whats so big about the citation ride? Its nice, but I would rather have my tuition shrink by a couple grand and not have the citation flight.
So whats up? Are you going to Ari-Ben after all? And, if ATP offered VA bennies, would you still choose to go to Ari-Ben over ATP? Because I could see why you would that would make a big difference. BTW, how does VA benefits work? Is it free money? or is it a loan with a very very low interest rate? Do tell.
But I must say Ari-ben does sound tempting, 10K cheaper, Formal ground school for Intrument, and you're in a house with your own room. hhmmm...
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So, that MEI's sit in the back seat? You have two students up front?
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Where did this thought ever come from??? The only time you have more than two people in the aircraft, the third is sitting in the back (back seating), flying for free, gaining experience, but not logging a thing. It is soley for experience, and up to the student to request.
If you have an MEI and a properly rated student, both log PIC. It's that simple. And that is what every flight school in the world does.
Please read my above lengthy post for clarification to logging PIC durring the time building phase.
Customer Service could be related to customer attitude or many petty things. My last visit to FSI was pretty bad until I walked into the administrative, behind where visitors are really "encouraged to go on their own" and met with one of the students working in the marketing department.
I stood in the lobby for 20 minutes and then the finance/loan person I talked to wasn't very friendly.
Does this mean that FSI is a bad school? I doubt it... look at their reputation not to mention the way students and instructors give in reviews. The best thing I feel like I can do, and I've been looking at lots of schools, is talk to the students and instructors.
I live in Vero Beach, FL, which is fairly central to a few schools mentioned and I plan to visit the Ari Ben Aviator School this weekend, now that I read about it on here. I will give a full assessment asap.
Sorry this is anonymous but for some reason, my browser won't allow me to post any messages while logged in.
Technically, you can pile as many mei's in the back of a dutchess and they all can log pic. The fars have a lot to be interpreted, thats why I hate them, but this is the truth. As long as the mei does some type of instruction from the back, he can log it. "hey student, watch your altitude." That is PIC. Sad but true.