charging dual rates for solo flights?

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by exncsurfer, May 6, 2019.

  1. FreqFlyrJr

    FreqFlyrJr Pre-Flight

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    Charging dual rates for some solo flights is common practice. It all varies on flight school policy.

    Most flight schools have a supervised solo versus an unsupervised solo. They usually only conduct one to two supervised solos, those being the first and second solos around the pattern. The flight school requires the instructor to stand on the field, with a radio, in case of anything going wrong. This being the case, I think charging dual rates is fair, given the instructor is required to be there per school policy. This helps with insurance and liability issues.

    Beyond that, every solo is unsupervised, so the student is off on their own without the instructor present. These are not charged dual rates.

    I think charging dual rates beyond this model is a bit of a cheapo move. However, I have seen schools require the instructor to fly along side the student on crosscountries, which I think is total bull honkey.
     
  2. exncsurfer

    exncsurfer Pattern Altitude

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    Yikes! Yea, I didn't have it this way which is why I posted this, I had never heard of this practice and didn't understand it. (and I missed the similar thread from last year discussing it!)
     
  3. exncsurfer

    exncsurfer Pattern Altitude

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    So it was, I missed that one, thanks for sharing. That was entertaining as well. If I had read it I could have told the guy who was telling me about his billing that I had heard of places doing that instead of saying, "they did what? while you flew out to the practice area solo? really?" Well, I probably would have still said that!
     
  4. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips Pattern Altitude

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    Actually, the instructor couldn't avoid shouldering that responsibility. The FAA loves to blame instructors in incidents.
     
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  5. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    If they love to do it, there should be lots of examples of instructors being busted because the student did something stupid while solo...got any?

    And if that’s the case, why have renter’s insurance as a student?
     
  6. Dean V

    Dean V Pre-takeoff checklist

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    And you shift you reported for was 15 minutes? You must make one really good hourly wage.
     
  7. apr911

    apr911 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Let's be honest, you and/or your employees also probably wouldn't report to work for a 15 minute shift, nor would your employer likely ask you to report for such a shift. Even in hourly work, the minimum shift I've seen is usually 2-3 hours. Anything less than 2-3 hours and its just too much administrative headache for the employer and the cost of going to work exceeds the pay of being at work.

    In my experience, I've also found few CFI's who bill for "non-instructional" time blocks. Meaning if you book the CFI from 8-10:30am, show up at 8am, spend the first 15 minutes pre-flighting than the next 15 minutes briefing and the next hour flying, 10 minutes tying down and 15 minutes debriefing and getting your log book signed you're finished about 10am. That's about 2 hours of a 2.5 hour block and yet most of the time (at least in the majority of my experience) the instructor bills somewhere around 1.7 or 1.8 hours of time. Yet the CFI cant just pickup another paid activity until 10:30 because you booked the block until 10:30 and their next student therefore doesnt arrive until 10:30.

    Its even worse though when you have a flight school that makes a distinction between ground and flight instruction."Flight" instruction costing more but also being coincident with the hobbs meter... It incentivizes the CFI to get the prop spinning because they make more money and so does the school (both in terms of the school's cut of the CFI's pay and the prop spinning).

    So yeah getting paid for 15 minutes worth of work sounds great but the math doesn't work out really work out that way.

    You might not but someone is. Most business with traveling employees eat the cost of their employees travel times and hotel stays as a cost of doing business but that's not to say the customer isn't paying for it in some way... They usually just end up billing higher rates. Other places directly pass on the costs of employee travel in the form of Travel & Accommodation Expenses. Most people who travel in that manner get paid salary and they command a higher salary when the work requires frequent overnight travel. Even if its not time "working" its time away from home, from family and duties around the house and that gets compensated.

    As to the hotel costs? It certainly doesn't come out of the employee's pocket and while food is another matter entirely, most places consider anything requiring overnight to also be subject to a per diem/stipend for food expenses since the employee often times does not have access to a refrigerator and even if they did its not like they can really bring their own lunch/dinner from home.
     
  8. apr911

    apr911 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    During my primary training I paid for "supervised solo" on my first 2 solo flights.

    My first solo was done at a controlled airfield that was away from our home airport. I was instructed to taxi to the ramp at which point my instructor got out of the plane and instructed me to go do 5 laps around the pattern and come back and get him. He did not have a radio and to my knowledge he did not go up to the tower. For all I know he could have been inside reading a magazine but I occupied his time in that it was time he was unable to spend wigh/on another student. Arguably, we didn't have to do my first solo away from our home airport. Arguably, I could have come back to the controlled field at another time without the instructor but that probably would have required more time with the instructor to get me comfortable enough to do it on my own at another time when it wasn't so fresh on my mind, not to mention the additional time in the plane of having to fly back to that airport solo.

    My second solo was done at the home airfield a few days later. I booked with my instructor and after 2 laps around the pattern he again instructed me to drop him off at the ramp. At that point, he monitored my flight visually and on radio but he could have just as easily gone inside and read the paper again; it probably wouldn't have made a difference... Arguably, this was solo time that should not have been billed as dual, especially since the instructor could have left the field however, he did stick around and we did debrief once I was done and he discussed each of my landings. Also notable, the time block was for me with the instructor for 2 hours and the instructor got out about 30 minutes into the 2 hour lesson block... Yet for the next 1.5 hours he would have been unable to earn an income since I had taken a 2 hour block on his schedule.

    After that flight, I was signed off for "unsupervised" solo. I know for a fact that I wasn't endorsed in my log for "solo" until after my first solo as my going solo on that flight came as a surprise to me. It might not have even been until after the second solo that the endorsement was completed. I dont really know what the legality of that would be. I suppose had the FAA showed up and done a ramp check at that time, there's several arguments that might be made about the precise order and timing of things (I view this a lot like birthdays, the law doesnt really pay attention to the exact time your birth occurred whether its 12:00 or 23:59, both people celebrate on the same day and and legal rights conferred by age, are granted at the same time on the same day).

    For my solo cross countries, my instructor only billed me for a little bit more than what we spent going over the first XC plan on the ground and that was more due to the size of the block I put on his calendar and the fact he couldn't take on another student than any amount of "supervising" or debrief when I got back.

    My primary instructor was not available for my long XC but the instructor who signed me off didn't bill me even for the minimum ground we did do reviewing my flight plan.
     
  9. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Never much cared for the "dual" rate. Most of the places I flew charged for the plane based on flight time and the instructor got paid for whatever time he put into it (which was usually more than flight time for dual, less if he's just approving a solo and able to do something else).
     
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  10. Hildy

    Hildy Filing Flight Plan

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    I recently got my ppl and ir at a college program. They had a requirement that all student solos be "supervised" by an instructor on the ground. That wasn't just for student pilots. Even students working on the commercial certificate had that requirement. It didn't necessarily have to be "your" instructor. Your instructor had to go over your flight planning and fill out a little slip with the details of your flight. Then, your instructor either had to sit in the office until you returned or else get another instructor, or assistant chief pilot, to take your slip of paper while your instructor went to lunch or on a flight with another student. It usually ended up with a stack of solo slips being passed around to whichever staff member wasn't busy from one flight period to the next. The school charged one rate per flight hour, regardless of whether the instructor was with you. I think they basically just averaged out the costs to keep the book keeping simple. They weren't making a profit, and the full time instructors were all on salary, so nobody was double dipping.

    No, they couldn't do much to "supervise" you on a solo xc. I think it was really more about ensuring that someone was available to take a phone call if you landed at some distant field and needed to call back in to report some kind of trouble. Maintenance problems and unforcast weather do happen occasionally, and I can imagine some past incident of a student getting stranded hundreds of miles away when all the staff had gone home for the night. With cell phones available these days, that seems like it would be less of a problem, but once these kinds of policies take hold, they're hard to get rid of.

    It wasn't just the students, though. The instructors had to have an assistant chief pilot (or the chief pilot) on the ground "supervising" every flight. On a dual, night xc my instructors would have to arrange for one of the brass to agree to be their supervisor after hours, which meant the supervisor could go home but had to stay awake, by the phone, sober, etc. I suppose that if our plane broke down a hundred miles away, the supervisor would hop in a plane and come get us.
     
  11. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    You guys should check into what locksmiths get paid these days... I had a car malfunction, then accidentally dropped the keys in the car and paid $150 for about 10 minutes worth of work. Instructors are cheaply-paid professionals who put their lives on the line. I chose to tip an instructor on Saturday, because I happen to know what that flight school actually pays their instructors. Get real. Respect the work these individuals put into teaching... I don't endorse dishonesty in methodology, but we don't know the full circumstances, and as some have explained, there are places that do as a policy charge for supervision time. What's more troubling is the attitude in some of the posts about the time it actually takes to teach a student and show up. Unfortunately, these very attitudes often keep the more experienced teachers out, even GOOD caring individuals who might otherwise WANT to teach that I've heard say it's just too much risk and liability to expose their family to for little pay and lots of criticism and the FAA watching the other side.
     
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  12. mryan75

    mryan75 Line Up and Wait

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    Dude that is effing criminal. Charging you dual for your solo long cross-country is.. I don't even know where to start. You are getting hosed by this guy. I am really sorry they are doing this to you. As a student and fellow pilot you deserve better.
     
  13. mryan75

    mryan75 Line Up and Wait

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    Do you charge the student for triple time when the chief is around? My god...
     
  14. jaymark6655

    jaymark6655 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Charging instructor time while he isn't with a student, that's about like golf courses charging two players for a cart each. Last time they did that, I took two carts and we rode seperately. They came out, told us we had to ride in the same cart. My response, then why'd we get charged for two? I think they do it because people will pay without question or the williness to walk away and take their money somewhere else. My instructor charge me for my first solo while he was on the ground watching, the second solo he sat in his office listening to the radio and looked out the window once in awhile, after three landings he called the tower and had them tell me I could stay up as long as I cared to. No instructor charge on that second solo or any after that. Most of my solos were after work and the only person in the office was a desk worker or some line personnel. There is a reason instructor rates are $35 or higher, there is overhead and that gets used for the instructor to sit around "on the clock" or for the desk person. Charging that fee when not actually teaching is dishonest in my opinion and either means someone is taking a lot more off the top in profit or is competent enough to properly set up fees to balance the books without resorting to such a questionable act. I noticed some of the part time, free lance instructors in the area charge as much as their flight school counterparts. Not sure they have business other than the once in awhile review flight since I never see them flying. If they dropped their price by $5-$10 under the flight school, I am sure they would have to turn people away. Not sure what overhead they have that they need to match the flight school's price other than insurance which shouldn't require the same fee to the student to cover.
     
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  15. Hank S

    Hank S En-Route

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    The CFI can book other students to teach while one is out on XC. Cell phones still work from other airports is there's a problem. I'd never pay anyone to sit around while I'm doing something, and I'd especially never pay someone to set an alarm, take a shower and drive to work. Call out after hours / weekends is an exception, but even then their pay starts when they hit the time clock, not when the phone rings.

    I'm fine paying people to work. Want more pay? Get more students. Want less pay? Rip off the students you already have, they'll either drop out or go somewhere that doesn't overcharge. And badmouth you along the way to keep other students away, so you can't rip them off, too.
     
  16. codydog

    codydog Filing Flight Plan

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    From my impression as an older student, the ppl industry is so fragmented and poorly run, that the current companies involved are just begging for a hedge fund/private equity group to come in, buy up some folks, then standardize everything. This usually results in lower salaries, layoffs and lower prices for customers. It would be a Walmart approach.

    My sense is that instructors try and guess how much you'll spend on this hobby and charge accordingly - treating folks like me like a walking ATM. A savvy player would consolidate players, standardize prices, lower costs and make this a bigger market.
     
  17. TennVolsPilot39

    TennVolsPilot39 Filing Flight Plan

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    After reading all of this I feel pretty stupid and kinda torn. This cfi has been great I’ve really enjoyed flying with this school. I’m already signed off for my checkride and planned on taking a year then starting my instrument with them but now I don’t know. When he explained why he was billing me dual time when I was flying solo it made sense since I was flying on his ticket. He said that if I just wanted to do pattern work or something and he wasn’t there to give him a call and he wouldn’t charge me but that if he was at the airport he was. I’m just glad I’m signed off to take my checkride.
     
  18. mryan75

    mryan75 Line Up and Wait

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    Yeah, you're 95% of the way there, just finish up at this point. And the idea that he would charge you dual for doing pattern work if he just happened to be at the airport is just crazy to me. I would be interested what others think.

    Also, the "you're flying on my ticket" thing is kinda BS, too. That's why God created CFI insurance. Unless he has been negligent in either teaching you, or he didn't sign you off properly, didn't cover the proper material, etc., its not like if you make a mistake and bend metal that it's his behind. In fact I would think he would be more liable by charging you than if he wasn't. I dunno. This whole thing is nuts to me. At my school we have ground school sessions where everyone throws in $20 for the instructors and bings pizza or a handy six. Maybe I just lucked out.
     
  19. kgruber

    kgruber En-Route

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    "Insurance" won't do you any good when your are sitting in the FSDO office, with your certificates on the line.
     
  20. simtech

    simtech En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I must have had a great CFI...He only charged based off of hobbs time that he was in the plane with me. The time spent before a flight briefing it and the debrief after I was NEVER charged for. If you told me I had to pay you Hobbs time while you were not in the plane with me I would leave right there and never come back. Heck I have ran into a CFI while at the airport right after I did my auto pilot install. I asked him if he would come along as I knew I would likely be heads down and dealing with new things. I fully expected to pay him after the hour long flight. He declined payment and said getting to see it in action was enough. And he is a full time CFI as was my primary CFI. So paying the CFI for solo time...meh find another instructor.
     
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  21. kgruber

    kgruber En-Route

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    And you don't feel like that is being cheap?
     
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  22. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    A great CFI is solely defined by one who works for free, really?
     
  23. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It's bogus to begin with. The CFI is NOT the PIC.
     
  24. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    A great CFI charges fairly. If they choose not to charge for a debrief, that’s their own prerogative.
     
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  25. simtech

    simtech En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I always offered to pay for that time, he didnt except so there it is.

    Nope, my CFI was great for many reasons, and one of those reasons was not ripping off his students. He enjoyed to teach and did it well, and again another CFI I have used flew with me for an hour and wouldn't except payment. I always offered topay more. All im saying is there are plenty of CFI's out there not trying to financially rape their students. I have ZERO problems with paying top dollar for a provided service but I be danged if Ill pay a CFI to charge me dual while Im out solo, what service am I being provided?
     
  26. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    Your previous post made it sound like he was great because he was cheap. I am glad you have clarified your remark.

    Over a couple decades, I've been a customer of many instructors and had many more as coworkers. Since CFIs who are trying to "rape" their students are apparently so plentiful, it's odd I have never met any.
     
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  27. unsafervguy

    unsafervguy Cleared for Takeoff

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    funny thing is most of those CFI's saying I deserve to get paid while sitting around waiting for a student are building hours to get a job that only pays you when the door is closed and the brakes are off. sitting around ops between flights you get paid a couple of bucks per diem. hate to tell them it works out that you get paid for about 1/2 of the duty time you put in.
     
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  28. mryan75

    mryan75 Line Up and Wait

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    Nope. I never was either.
     
  29. mryan75

    mryan75 Line Up and Wait

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    Straw man.
     
  30. Hank S

    Hank S En-Route

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    This was the official policy of the FBO where I got my license. They hired a new CFII as I was starting Instrument work; she charged me ground time on the first lesson, then deducted that from my 2nd lesson and didn't charge me for ground time again. And no, I didn't complain or anything.
     
  31. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    Where? A straw man occurs when a person attacks an argument somebody else didn't make. I didn't do that.
     
  32. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    When I was an active CFI I never charged for solo (unless it was the original pattern solo).
    That said, that was back when there was no internet to track a flight. No cell phones either.
    So, there wasn’t really any point to be at the airport. There was nothing to monitor.
    Today....??? I can possibly see it.
     
  33. mryan75

    mryan75 Line Up and Wait

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    He by no means said in any way that the instructor was good because he was cheap.
     
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  34. RussR

    RussR Cleared for Takeoff

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    While I see it as an undesirable practice from a customer's perspective and certainly not standard practice in my experience, and while I have never myself charged for that time, it certainly isn't criminal. As long as the customer knew that's how they billed (which he definitely did at least after the first time), then it sounds like we have a mutually agreed-upon business arrangement. There is a difference between a "scam" and a "bad deal".

    As an independent flight instructor (without an airplane even), I charge more than the local flight school, and I do have to turn people away. There's no way I would consider working for $5-10 less than the school charges. Those independent flight instructors near you must have all the business they want, or they would change their rate structure.

    I charge for all time we're together, "handshake to handshake" (I do usually round down, as there is always some "down time"). However, I'd have no problem charging only for flight time, of course then my hourly rate would increase 25% or so. I have nothing against CFI's that do only charge for flight time, as long as they aren't then skimping on pre and post-flight briefings - they're very important to the learning process. However, a CFI who only charges for flight time is effectively working for 25% less per hour than they're charging. If that's fine for them, then okay.
     
  35. CharlieK

    CharlieK Pre-Flight

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    The more interesting thing I thought, was making a collect call... on a party line. "No Mrs. Erickson, it only rang two times, not six! The extra rings YOU heard, didn't actually happen!" If I remember right, we had 8 places on our party line...

    I don't know about some of you folks though. So... If you are going to school, which you have to pay for, and the teacher is talking to another student, do you get a discount? Does the teacher need to be over your shoulder the whole time? Set your stop watch for when they are drinking coffee, responding to emails, or explaining things to another student, to determine how much of a discount you will demand?
     
  36. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot En-Route

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    To each their own. I didn’t charge my students for such things. I wouldn’t pay you for it either.

    Or perhaps I’m miss understanding so I’ll be very specific.

    All solo flying has to be supervised at some level. That was a free service. Phone calls asking for guidance about ADM etc...

    If I give you ground training that’s in a block of time reserved on my schedule regarding something related to solo flying. I get paid.

    If I look over your flight planning and endorse your planning for a x-country in between other students. Free.

    I think you get the idea. If you or anyone else expects payment for the things above that are tagged as free then we would not have a business relationship. Nothing personal and not attacking you or anyone else. I’m just sharing where I establish the boundaries
     
  37. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot En-Route

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    Now I’m starting to understand some of the issues I see with guys from big 141 programs.
     
  38. apr911

    apr911 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Therein lies one of the problems with GA and CFI's. There are plenty of CFI's who do this because they love flying and for them, its more hobby than career. They will always charge less and bill less hours than the career minded CFI's. That's not a knock against career CFI's so much as it is a statement of reality; a career CFI is deriving income upon which they need to live, a hobbyist CFI is picking up a bit extra on the side.

    So long as the 2 are competing in a competitive market and so long as there are people willing to provide free instructional time there will be arguments about the cost of a CFI and a general reduction in wage earning capability of the newly minted commercial pilot. We see this in other parts of aviation such as banner towing operations; many banner tow pilots are already paid comparatively low wages, especially for the risk involved and the situation is only exacerbated by the number of people willing to pay to learn and get in to banner towing which only drives down the wage of banner tow pilots that much more.

    I get it. We want to get value for our money and for those of us doing our instruction part 61, we're probably more hobbyist than career oriented. That means we're more discerning in how we spend our money.

    I've ranted on here myself about the cost of plane rental and flight school insurance requirements that included not just being current but being current in their specific airplane (forget the fact I have 60 hours flying in the last 3 months, it was 60 hours flying in planes that weren't theirs so I need to go up with an instructor) and for IFR? Well might as well forget about that since you have to be specially approved before each flight and maintain separate currency with the school (again forget the fact that I have more than enough approaches for FAA currency in the last month with several done in actual instrument conditions) but I digress.

    We dont need or see value in spending the 80k it is now to start at 0 time with ATP and get to an ATP in 2 years (9 months for PPL/IRA/CPL/MEL/CFI/CFII/MEI); we can take our time, spend the money as we see fit and probably only spend half to 2/3 as much. We're still paying 50k or more but its less noticeable because its not upfront but spread out over time (and typically several years) and we're probably getting instruction from more experienced instructors (though the lack of structure in part 61 means the instruction we do receive may be of varying quality).

    CFI's who work for a flight school usually dont see all of the amount that's paid per hour; I just got done working with a flight school on one of my ratings that charged $49 for flight time and $35 for ground. My instructor saw $25 for flight time and $15 for ground... He could work there full time and would only earn somewhere between 35-50k/yr without benefits or time off and to earn the top end $50k, he'd have to fly 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year (an improbable outcome even in the generally good weather location I was flying)... Oh and to top it off he's officially a 1099 independent contractor (what the flight school was providing to the instructor for half the billed rate, I dont know) so he'd have to pay Self-employment income taxes.

    Teacher pay in general seems to be a sore spot whether the teacher is an actual grade school teacher or a CFI. I suspect the issue is that we like to think we could do it without the teacher. That the teacher is not a required component of the equation and is ancillary to our own effort. We see it as "our" effort not the instructors effort so we question what it is that teachers do because we're the ones "putting in the work..."

    There's also a time component involved. Again we're willing to pay more for things we deem urgent than things we pursue as a hobby. There are many professions we pay quite a bit more for per hour than CFI's that are comparatively less critical to our survival than a CFI.

    Many of these same arguments are the same reason I am against minimum wage increases. No offense to the minimum wage burger flipper or menial labor but if they get paid $15/hour, not only does the cost of their service go up (meaning I pay more) but there is little evidence that it will drive wages up in unrelated industries and to me a CFI is worth more than a burger flipper.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2019
  39. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot En-Route

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    My god. That’s like a prison gang rape. I would be so ****ed off in your position. Whoever did that to you is a royal a-hole
     
  40. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot En-Route

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    What is WTAF?