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Introducing: The Pilot Pathway Comparator Tool

It is, perhaps, the most common question we get here at The ATM headquarters. “What

should I do?” Knowing we have all walked a path to get to our “dream job,” there is a

lot of mystery around the multitude of ways to get to your final career stop. And, more

importantly, there is no shortage of pilots, instructors, professors, friends, relatives, and

recruiters who will tell you that this way or that way is the “best way.”

The truth is, it is far more nuanced and personal than that. There is no one “best” way

to get to your first, second, or last job. There is simply the way you choose to take and

making the best of the time you spend at each of the stops along the way. Only you can

answer what is more important for you in a given situation. Are finances a primary

concern as you build your time? Is location more important, given that you may have

relatives close to a certain location? Is having a backup plan in case the family curse of

“insert family medical issue here” pops up and sidelines you from your plans for a few

years, if not permanently?” These are just a few examples of what can be most

important to you, when choosing your path in the aviation business. Ultimately, the final

goal is probably to get to your dream job in the most efficient amount of time possible.

The good news is that the general path to get to your job looks very similar for

everyone. See below:

Over the past decade as airline hiring has ramped up across the industry, airlines have

developed programs that add a new dimension to this question and may affect the

above flow progression. Pipelines/flow-throughs/partnerships/Cadet Programs. They all

go by different names, but the general theory is the same, to get you to sign up early in

your training to eventually fly for their company and in some cases, eventually their

parent or partner company.

This brings up many questions. Should I join a pipeline to a specific airline whom I

won’t be working directly with for another 5+ years? And the many questions that

spring from that first question such as that companies’ general health and longevity,

leaving room for your own change in mindset as you grow, and whether or not you may

want to fly professionally after you get your certificates and ratings. But let’s say you

are thinking of applying to one of these programs.

It may be faster to go to a fast-track program that gets you into a pipeline in a short

amount of time, but what pipeline should you chose? Most flight schools, universities,

and pilot development programs will have multiple different options to choose from. You

don’t have to go with ANY of them, to be clear. But sometimes the benefits outweigh

the costs after you consider your own priorities and questions from the beginning of

this article. If you find yourself considering these options, then the next question to

answer is “which one is the best for me?”

While you are, truly, the only person who can answer that question for you, you will find

very quickly that many of the recruiters for these programs are going to tell you how

their program will fit “perfectly” for you and your life. Here is the deal, while all of these

programs have their benefits, all of these programs also have their drawbacks. Again,

the only way for you to know which program truly fits you the best, is to know what is

in them.

Here is where our new tool will come in handy. We built the Pilot Pathway

Comparator tool to help focus the main points of each of the programs into a

spreadsheet for you to compare and contrast the many high and low points of each


This is a work in progress, so if you see something that is incorrect, incomplete, or just

worded funny, please contact us and we will change it! This tool is only as strong as the

information you deem to be important, so help us build this into a powerful career tool

so others may also find it helpful.

Happy planning!

- Richard, Jolanda, & Andrew

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