Quality of flight time at ATP


New Member
I have a question for those who have gone to ATP, work for ATP, or are thinking about going to ATP...

What is the quality of flight time? What I am referring to is this: they state X hours of multi-engine cross-country flying. Does this mean that I get X hours of cross-country PIC flight time with my hands (and only my hands) on the controls or is some of this time logged as a safety observer or similar?

I am looking for a flight school that offers PIC or dual received time with me and only me (or the instructor) at the controls. Casual back seat observers are welcomed to ride along and take notes too.

Thanks and "Blue Skies and Tailwinds"
Not quite half of your XC time at ATP is as safety pilot; the other half is flown under the hood.

I'll leave it to you to debate the value of safety pilot PIC time, but I think that it can certainly be a learning experience--seriously, you won't have that much enroute IFR time under your belt at that point, and being able to think through things in a low-pressure situation like sitting right seat can be a good mental exercise. So what if you're not actually doing the flying; you'll be running the radios and the GPS, which can be a nice way to see what it's like to be an FO. Or just think of the dude under the hood as your autopilot. /ubbthreads/images/icons/cool.gif
"Under the hood" (aka "simulated instrument" time) means you're wearing some sort of view-limiting device (like a plastic hood-shaped thing you wear on your head or some modified shop goggles) that prevents you from seeing more than your instrument panel. You'll get quite used to wearing one or the other in your instrument training. When flying "under the hood", you must have another pilot aboard serving as "safety pilot" who watches out for traffic, terrain, etc, while you're busy chasing needles.

As it pertains to ATP's XC time, you'll spend half of that time wearing a view-limiting device and flying on instruments, and the other half as safety pilot, making sure the guy doing the flying doesn't kill the both of you.
Aloft is bringing up several good points.

I have to admit I was disapointed the first time I found out almost half the X-C time was as safety pilot, however in hindsight I'm very glad it was that way. As Aloft said, having the time to think things over while being the PNF is very valuable.
And the experience of working as a crew was invaluable, IMHO. Coming to a good working relationship in the cockpit is a challenge in itself, at least for a low time pilot, and fitting it all into some sort of structure was a fun challenge. /ubbthreads/images/icons/smile.gif
It was a few flights before my partner stopped trying to do /everything/ himself, while flying. /ubbthreads/images/icons/wink.gif

Seems reasonable to me. I'm sure there is much to learn in the cockpit while your not actually manipulating the controls. Afterall, when your flying for the airlines, you're not actually doing the flying half the time.