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School promises CFII & Turbine Transition for $65K


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I seen someone on another forum asking about this school.....Vertical Air Services. They are saying on their website that if you choose the "Professional Pilot Package" at $65,000 that no matter how many hours it takes for you to get your CFII that you will not get charged anymore than the initial $65,000. Also, they throw in a Turbine Transition into that package to sweeten the deal! As I was checking it out I was thinking, this could end in tears for a few people. My reaction to this on the other forum was as follows..........

 

Ok, so that just doesn't seem right to me. Guaranteeing that you will finish up your CFII and a Turbine transition for $65,000 and saying that there are no hidden fees, even if you go over the FAA minimum requirements seems like it is too good to be true. It's pretty much the same as guaranteeing someone a job as a CFI in your school, once they're done with their training.

 

I suggest to anyone that is signing up for this course to read the fine print very carefully. Or better yet, take the school contract to a lawyer to read it over and have them explain it to you. This promise, that they're giving you could put a small school out of business very quickly if they got the wrong student(s).

 

Althought it doesn't happen very often, you will have people from time to time struggle with getting all their ratings in under 200 hours. So lets say you have a student that takes 250 hours to get finished up. These guys are basically saying that they will absorb the extra cost of these extra hours. What if it takes someone 300 hours to become ready to pass their CFI checkride? That's a lot of money, and I doubt any small business or any large business in it's right mind could or would absorb these extra costs.

 

Whatever you do, if you do sign up with these guys, don't pay all up front. Because if the school does have the bad fortune of having a particularly dense student(or worse, a couple of them) then those guys will be eating into all the money that you put up front for your training and before long, VOILA, you have another Silver State Helicopters situation on your hands, all be it on a much smaller scale. But if a school does close up shop still owing you anywhere between $1,000 to $65,000, that is never small scale for someone who is trying to become a pilot.

 

Now I stand to be corrected, like always, but this site has tripped some of my common sense alarm bells and I urge everyone to approach it with caution. Otherwise, it does seem like a really good deal when the Turbine Time is thrown in!!!

 

Judging from what you have seen in the website, do you think I am right in thinking that this school is taking part in some pretty risky business practices with money that they'll be getting up front from people who are putting everything they have into bettering themselves.

 

I am not a person that usually says don't pay up front for flight training. I actually paid for all mine up front 2 years ago, although the school I attended is in business for over 30 years now and I had researched them pretty well before hand. I welcome all responses, even the ones that say something to the effect of..."Darren keep your nose out of other people's business"!!!

 

Cheers,

Darren.

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Hmm, that business plan sounds REALLY familiar. Flashy website, lots of promises. It is a plan that is doomed to failure because of the reasons you point out. If it were me, I would run the other way, FAST! Something else you didnt mention, what happens if the cost of fuel rises again?

Edited by PhotoFlyer
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Gotta ask yourself......why are they giving you such a deal to get that $65,000 up front? What do they need that money for RIGHT NOW that they are so willing to promise you the world? And, are they going to need someone else in 60, 90, 180 days from now to put up ANOTHER $65,000 to pay so YOU can finish you're training?

 

That's the deal with this model--you're floating them through the next month or billing cycle. Unless they get profitable, they'll need someone else to do the same because that 200 hrs is going to cost a lot of money in fuel, depreciation, instructors, etc.

 

It in their best interest to finish you up in the least amount of hours, in the longest amount of time. People paying by the hour will get preferred treatment since they're bringing in new money.

 

This is a dangerous tactic for a business unless they're setting your money aside to pay the operating costs as you fly.

 

And a "turbine transition" could be 25 hours, 5 hours, or a whole ONE HOUR. Make sure there's exact numbers on everything. If they say they'll fly with you no cost until you get your CFI, I'd keep flunking my checkride until I had about 1000 hrs! Don't believe that crap, it's a lie.

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If you're looking for a realistic $65k ii-ticket, you might want to look at Precision in Oregon:

 

http://www.flyprecision.com/website/Flight...ningMainHC.html

 

They have a helpful chart that shows the training they include - over and above FAA minimums - included in their curriculum. The do not require that you pay up front.

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From their financing page:

 

"Vertical Air Services suggests you contact these organizations yourself to determine how to receive funding, terms of the loans, and interest rates. Please understand that they are loans between you and the private loan company and Bristow Academy is in no way responsible for any loan defaults."

 

Are they related to Bristow in some way?

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Where on the site does it say up front? Its not at all up front. PAY AS YOU GO ONLY.

 

Gotta ask yourself......why are they giving you such a deal to get that $65,000 up front? What do they need that money for RIGHT NOW that they are so willing to promise you the world? And, are they going to need someone else in 60, 90, 180 days from now to put up ANOTHER $65,000 to pay so YOU can finish you're training?

 

That's the deal with this model--you're floating them through the next month or billing cycle. Unless they get profitable, they'll need someone else to do the same because that 200 hrs is going to cost a lot of money in fuel, depreciation, instructors, etc.

 

It in their best interest to finish you up in the least amount of hours, in the longest amount of time. People paying by the hour will get preferred treatment since they're bringing in new money.

 

This is a dangerous tactic for a business unless they're setting your money aside to pay the operating costs as you fly.

 

And a "turbine transition" could be 25 hours, 5 hours, or a whole ONE HOUR. Make sure there's exact numbers on everything. If they say they'll fly with you no cost until you get your CFI, I'd keep flunking my checkride until I had about 1000 hrs! Don't believe that crap, it's a lie.

 

We are NOT affiliated with Bristow. Our web guy accidently put that in there. He will be fixing it asap.

 

From their financing page:

 

"Vertical Air Services suggests you contact these organizations yourself to determine how to receive funding, terms of the loans, and interest rates. Please understand that they are loans between you and the private loan company and Bristow Academy is in no way responsible for any loan defaults."

 

Are they related to Bristow in some way?

 

We do offer full package. No hidden fees, pay as you go. And we guarantee we will have you completed for that price. Thats it.

 

The thing is, we will know in the first few weeks of flying if you will be able to qualify for this package. There is always the option of paying per hour as you go.

Edited by PhotoFlyer
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Hi Vertical Air,

I apologize for the "payment up front" coming out of context. I initially just warned people not to pay up front for this deal. I realized that you did not talk about up front payment on your site. So now that that is sorted out, I have a few questions for you, if you wouldn't mind answering them, mostly to satisfy my curiosity(nosiness!!).

 

The thing is, we will know in the first few weeks of flying if you will be able to qualify for this package. There is always the option of paying per hour as you go.

 

So when do you sit down with the students to sign the contract for the Professional Pilot Guarantee?

 

How do you determine qualification for that deal?

 

Is there an aptitude test or something?

 

And when do you sit the ones that won't be getting that deal down to tell them that "A pony can't win a horse race!"?

 

Does all your potential students get told that they may not be eligible for said deal while they are still in the "potential student(courtship period)" category?

 

Cheers,

Darren.

 

EDIT: P.s; I'm really curious know what you said that PhotoFlyer had to edit it out!! If it was something you said to me, you can pm it to me if you like, I can take it. This topic was not created to harm your business in any way. It was intended to help newcomers make better decisions regarding how they go about becoming Professional Helicopter Pilots.

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We are NOT affiliated with Bristow. Our web guy accidently put that in there. He will be fixing it asap.

 

What he meant to say was that his web guy forgot to remove it after copying and pasting it from Bristow's website. Why in the world would he put that in there.

 

Anyway, carry on mates.

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Same thing happened to the school I used to work for. Around 01-02, SSH copied all of our FAQs and two page "So you want to become a helicopter pilot?" career path article off our website. They began distributing them at their seminars and sending it our in their mailings. It was cut & pasted 100%--the same sentences were underlined, bolded, etc. All that was missing was the last line with our phone number.

 

I sent them an 'eff you(!) letter just asking them to give credit where credit was due, and actually got a response. The guy said they paid a local journalist to write that and they didn't realize he just stole it all. They said they'd credit us, but it never happened.

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http://www.verticalairservices.com/pro_package.html

 

My reading of this page, specifically the "*savings of over $7,000 compared with paying for ratings as you go." addendum at the bottom, makes me think you DO have to pay up front for the guaranteed package.

 

There is also some verbiage about being able to access you funds at any time, but this woudn't mean much if the place went belly-up.

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Thank you everybody. After this discussion it has come to our attention that our web designer and writer did cut and past a lot of info! NOT GOOD. That will be changing immediately! As for the professional pilot program, some good points have been brought up here. We will be changing it to a total of 200 hours flight time. If you dont finish in that time/cost, you will be allowed to fly at a very discounted rate. No contracts, no payment up front, pay as you go only.

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Thank you everybody. After this discussion it has come to our attention that our web designer and writer did cut and past a lot of info! NOT GOOD. That will be changing immediately! As for the professional pilot program, some good points have been brought up here. We will be changing it to a total of 200 hours flight time. If you dont finish in that time/cost, you will be allowed to fly at a very discounted rate. No contracts, no payment up front, pay as you go only.

 

What is being changed to "200 hours flight time"...the estimated flight time the $65k covers? That is just marketing...an example of what a student might incur to get to CFII. All of the schools put that advertised-price language on their websites. But that is not any kind of guarantee that the student will actually achieve CFII within those 200 hours.

 

That may not be a big deal as long as your program is pay-as-you-go but, that language, "If you dont finish in that time/cost, you will be allowed to fly at a very discounted rate. No contracts..." is another case. How exactly can a student rely on that statement without a contract agreement? What if gas prices go up...or your insurance costs? You're doing exactly what Silver State did...you're making verbal representations that a student may rely on but which cannot be enforced by the student. You may say you've got good intentions but then the same could have been said about SSH...and we all know that wasn't the case.

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We actually thought about that this morning. The only contract that will need to be signed is one that is actually in favor of the student. It holds them to nothing. If anybody, it hold us, the school to guidelines. I really don't even call it a contract. Its a mutual agreement of what the student is receiving and what they will be paying. Thats it.

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We actually thought about that this morning. The only contract that will need to be signed is one that is actually in favor of the student. It holds them to nothing. If anybody, it hold us, the school to guidelines. I really don't even call it a contract. Its a mutual agreement of what the student is receiving and what they will be paying. Thats it.

 

Whats the discounted flight rate after 200hrs?

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We actually thought about that this morning. The only contract that will need to be signed is one that is actually in favor of the student. It holds them to nothing. If anybody, it hold us, the school to guidelines. I really don't even call it a contract. Its a mutual agreement of what the student is receiving and what they will be paying. Thats it.

 

A "mutual agreement" is called a contract. Why would you offer an agreement that is "in favor of the student"? Sounds like a risky business practice. Does the agreement support your verbal marketing pitch that guarantees the student will achieve CFII regardless of the hours required? What would the students' responsibilities be? SSH stuck the students in ground school for three months and had attendance and performance standards they had to meet before and while they flew. Generally the students could not meet the standards due to SSH's lack of resources but the "contract" placed no requirements on SSH. The result was that SSH could drop the students but the students had no recourse if SSH did not perform. That was all in SSH's "mutual agreement".

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I think Vertical Air Services is just rolling with the punches here and trying to correct some mistakes as they come across them. Based on his responses, I think they have not put a lot of thought into this yet, but I do think he is genuine in wanting to create a better training agreement for the students. And they should be commended for that. I would be very interested in hearing from current students at the school, or better yet, former students that completed their training there. Unfortunately they may be hard to come by, as the school seems like it has only started up in recent times.

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What is that old saying... "no plan ever survives contact with the enemy..."

 

Flight schools look great on paper, even better in an Excel spreadsheet... When the rubber meets the road, they have a funny way of running into trouble. The flying is never as steady as you predict, the student load varies from busy to not. The fleet is all up one minute, then half broken the next (darn it, you just can't schedule these things breaking!).

 

It isn't easy, if it was everyone would have a flight school. I've been involved with this business for a half dozen years in one form or another, and I still don't have it figured out. I can tell you that if it were not for my passion for teaching, I'd sell the training ships and run a commercial flight company. But I love teaching, so I won't do that. :)

 

Looking at What Vertical is offering for $65K, I suspect they are going to be surprised at how hard it is to make a buck at those numbers. Even if their costs are low and they don't plan to pay themselves much, the turbine time will throw that $65K number off. They need to have a time limit for those 200 hours as well, otherwise what happens in 2 years when the cost of everything is 20% higher and students are still flying on that package.

 

This is why I don't pre sell time like that, it is pay as you go. Otherwise cost increases can't be passed along to the customer, as unpleasant as they may be, when required.

 

I do wish them the best of luck, it is never boring... :D

Edited by jehh
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