Google reviews are like mini ground school lessons. There are a myriad of reasons why our
school, and most other businesses on the entire planet, will get 1-star reviews on Google. One
review of our school in
particular comes from a former student who has since moved on, but who has left his
mark on our Google score with his 1-star review. Instead of getting pissed
off, we would like to offer a real world response that we, and all other flight schools, can
use to further educate prospective students about flight training institutions.
"I was very disappointed with this school. The instructors for the most part are just there to accrue flight hours. There is little effort on their part to see students make it through the program. The staff, with few exceptions, lacks real teachers/instructors. Instructors change often as they are just there to get flight hour and care not if students succeed. Management is ok with this too. There attitude seems to be we will just fill the spot with another candidate. Pass this place by and go to Embry - Riddle."
*Editor's Note: This review has since been removed as the reviewer violated Google's Terms of Service, but we wanted to keep this post online since it is all good information.
Our full response:
Thank you for your feedback, we appreciate the opportunity to provide another "ground school lesson" for those reading this review. While we are sorry to hear you are disappointed, the specifics you outline are all excellent topics that prospective students may care to learn about.
1. “The instructors for the most part are just there to accrue flight hours.”
This is correct. This is correct for the Academy of Aviation. It is correct at all of our campuses. It is correct for 99% of flight schools in the country and it is even correct when we look at the University programs such as Embry-Riddle.
Here is some further reading on the matter:
3 Reasons to Build Time as a Flight Instructor (thrustflight.com)
5 reasons to become a flight instructor - CTI Professional Flight Training (ctipft.com)
Why you should become a Flight Instructor (osmaviationacademy.com)
Please note that we are citing other flight schools here, so the point above -- that it is industry standard -- is not overlooked. Also not to be overlooked is the fact that vocational students will advance into that same position as part of their advancement to the airlines. Prospective students should absolutely be looking for schools that offer the option to become an instructor upon graduation.
So for all the aspiring pilots out there, you should completely understand the entire career path before starting your training. After you earn your Commercial Pilot Certificate, you will not have accrued enough hours to be an attractive candidate for most commercial operations. The regional airlines will require, on average, 1500 hours of flight time. Therefore, understanding how you will get from the 250 hours you have under your belt when you pass your commercial checkride to the 1500 hours you will need to get the airlines is an important step that shouldn't be overlooked. There are other options, such as banner towing or skydive operations; however, I encourage anyone reading this to pick a regional airline, call their recruiting department and ask what their preferred experience is for new hires.
The vast majority of flight students with a desire to go to domestic airlines will at some point, spend time as a flight instructor. I highlight domestic because many of our international students intend to apply for airlines with hiring criteria much different than what the FAA would allow in the United States.
Anyone interested in flying for a living should research the career path options and speak to knowledgeable experts like the Admissions team at the Academy, to build a program that works towards your goals.
2. "There is little effort on their part to see students make it through the program."
I am unclear what you mean by this. As odd as it may seem, in all of the FAA regulations for flight training under either Part 61 or Part 141, there is only a focus on the minimum amount of training required, unlike other academic pursuits where a maximum time frame is more common for measuring success. You enroll in a college course and you have until the end of the semester to pass that class. The semester ends and that's it. You don't get to come to class again tomorrow and just keep going. In academia, this is referred to as Satisfactory Academic Progress or 'SAP', and unfortunately the FAA does not stipulate any parameters for SAP. This means that two students taking a checkride on the same day get the same Pilot Certificate even if one took only 2 months to be prepared and the other took 6 years. This is simply the way the FAA has chosen to write the regulations, and our Academy and Instructors have to work within those parameters. What I can say is that as a Part 141 flight school, the FAA does monitor our success and requires we maintain 80% pass rate for first time checkride applicants. The Academy has surpassed that requirement handily for over a decade.
However, outside of the regulations, there are the Academy of Aviation policies and procedures. To start, the course catalog, which is available on our Student Portal page, outlines our SAP policy course by course. Additionally, the Academy enrolls students under a training agreement which stipulates, among other things, the minimum required schedule the student needs to maintain, the expected graduation date and the certificates and ratings to be completed within that time frame. Those three conditions define the scope of training. By outlining it all on the Enrollment Agreement that the students sign, we ensure that they understand their training requirements.
Our operations department continually books lessons for all enrolled students based on the terms of the enrollment agreement and arranges the written exams, stage checks, and checkrides based on the terms of the enrollment agreement.
Our full time registrar works with the faculty and tracks students progress throughout their program, coordinates academic advisement sessions, and even processes the warnings, probation, and termination of students that are unable to maintain satisfactory academic progress.
Now, on the other side of this relationship is the student; and though I am unable to speak to your specific experience due to privacy concerns, there are any number of issues that can contribute to the Academy being unable to keep a student on track -- including but not limited to; making their tuition installments, satisfying the medical requirements of flight training, involvement in incidents, accidents, or legal issues, and for international students; their approval to engage in flight training.
3. "The staff, with few exceptions, lacks real teachers/instructors."
By regulation of the FAA, only certified instructors are allowed to provide flight training. The Academy goes further to only hire instructors that are credentialled to be Instrument Instructors as well. Again I must reference the FAA Part 141 requirement that 80% of our students pass their checkride on the first attempt. A requirement that we exceed by a wide margin. I am not sure how to know if someone is a 'real' teacher if not by their credentials and the success of their students.
4. "Instructors change often as they are just there to get flight hour and care not if students succeed." This is just a restatement of what you said in issue #1.
5. "There attitude seems to be we will just fill the spot with another candidate." This is just a restatement of what you said in issue #2.
6. "Pass this place by and go to Embry - Riddle"
This is an Apples to Oranges comparison, but let's explore the areas that can be compared.
Vocational Vs Degree:
Embry Riddle is a degree granting institution while the Academy of Aviation is Vocational. This means that at ERAU you are not just learning how to fly, you are getting a degree. Degrees are great but not required to pursue a career in aviation.
The most expensive program in the Academy of Aviation catalog is $89K. Add non tuition expenses and it would be difficult to make the cost of enrollment exceed $100k for the entire program. ERAU lists their estimated cost of attendance as $25,100 per semester and a 4 year degree requires 8 semesters. $200K and that doesn't include the flight time.
The Academy has programs as short as a year to take a student from never touching an airplane to being paid to instruct. A 4-year degree takes 4 years, and that doesn't account for additional time needed to complete the flight training.
Graduates of both schools will still need to build experience to become an attractive candidate to the airlines. Both would be best served if they chose to be flight instructors to build that time, and in both cases we are again speaking about instructors that are primarily using instruction as the opportunity to advance their careers. The only difference is the AOA graduate is already an instructor earning an income and interviewing for the airlines while the ERAU student is entering their Junior year.
Real information about flight training can be obtained from any number of sources. The Academy of Aviation, our admissions representatives and staff are available to answer questions to assist those with the dream, and give it wings.
Thanks for reading, and please retain this information. I guarantee that every single prospective flight school student in America can benefit from this post.