Need help to open eyes for future students


Well-Known Member
Hi everybody!

I am the one who sent DE727UPS the PM inquiring about who really owns DCA.
The question didn't really came from myself, but it developed itself with my discussions (and sharing of my impressions) with european students who are looking for flight training in the US and also the repetitive discussions on the major message-boards in german-speaking world, over here.

All I tried to explain to them was, that there is no real advantage in going to DCA over any other flight school, what is nearly impossible to explain with the advertisement of DCA going on over here since a couple of weeks. They simply mislead people by promising things that are by far out of any reliability. Another problem that I encountered, was, that most former european students who attended DAC do not have enough self-confidence to stand up and admit that they made a wrong decision by going there and spending a small fortune. Hey, everybody makes mistakes. But that's a very common psychologic phenomenon that you can probably observe with most schools, not only limited to flight schools, that former students who were not happy with the trainings they got decide to stand up and tell how it really was. You mostly only hear from the happy students..if everybody is happy with what's going on in his/her school, why do we discuss different schools? It shouldn't matter where you go, you'll be happy anyways.

I decided to post the PM in full length and direct the folks from Europe to this thread. Maybe somebody can give some input on it...

Hi Don,

I'm currently having a hard time, trying to steer away potential students from DCA, since DCA is on a heavy marketing trip very active in german-speaking Europe(Austria, Germany, Switzerland) right now.

I've read through a lot of posts in the DCA Fourms and from the opinion of current and former students it would never come to my mind that I put a foot in one of their buildings or spend a buck even only on one of their soda-machines.

So, I'm trying to make them clear that DCA is nothing than a huge ripoff and you'd never get your money's worth compared with good instruction out of it. I've come so far that some of the potential students(which happen to be alot in the last months) reconsider their decision. I tried to explain to them, that there is no real connection with Delta, although the name signifies it and they advertised that they are 'owned by Delta'. Everybody over here thinks that they will be trained directly from Delta, because of the name. And DCA even supports this misleading of european students by telling them that they'll get a job with Delta(!) right after their graduation with the bare minimums for the CPL. And all this without a green card or working permit, just on a student visa.

Here comes my question: do you know of any official links that I might direct them where they could check out for themselfs that DCA is not owned by Delta(I think DCA was even sold a couple of weeks ago?) and Delta does not hire Europeans right after their CPL? They seem not to believe me, what I'm telling them, but I guess I'm just going to let them go there and check it out least they won't be mad at me afterwards.. you are very active in the DCA and FSA Forums and I really value your opinion(I have the same opinion), so I hope you can help me.

Thanks for taking the time to read through this PM and I hope to hear from you soon,


P.S.: Feel free to ask me any questions you might have about flying in Europe. I can tell you, that you're more than right, that most european captains have to babysit 'newbies' that get a F/O spot with only 200hrs for up to 18 months...the capts I have talked with, told me that they fly the plane more or less 'solo' when they fly with a new F/O. NO matter where they did their training. Even if they were in an ab-initio program paid and trained by the employing matter how good the instructor or the program is, you can't train experience, you build it with time.


Well-Known Member
"do you know of any official links that I might direct them where they could check out for themselfs that DCA is not owned by Delta"

It was established on another thread that Delta owns DCA. Delta is in bankruptcy and DCA is a part of that however the day to day operation of DCA shouldn't be effected by Delta's bankruptcy.

"Delta does not hire Europeans right after their CPL?"

Delta airlines has many pilots out of work. With the bankruptcy and the cut backs, it could be a long time before Delta hires pilots again. It takes at least 10 years of experience after one gets a CPL before one is qualified for a job at a major airline.

Perhaps what's getting lost in the translation is that DCA guarantees their graduates an interview with a Delta Connection airline.

Pay attention to the fine print, though. To graduate from DCA means you get a CFI and instruct there for 800 hours, or pay more money, and instruct there for 400 hours. This is far more than a CPL. DCA only promises an interview, not a job....big difference. Lastly, Delta Connection is not the same as Delta, they fly regional jets in support of Delta but the pilot groups and pay scales are completely different.

"And DCA even supports this misleading of european students by telling them that they'll get a job with Delta(!) right after their graduation with the bare minimums for the CPL. And all this without a green card or working permit, just on a student visa"

I have to give DCA the benefit of the doubt and hope this is a misunderstanding or mistranslation of the DCA website. I don't know about how marketing and business works in Europe but in the US, there is little need for honesty or integrity. If real live DCA reps are running around Europe telling guys, straight up face to face, that DCA CPL grads are getting hired at Delta, then they are lying to you.


New Member

Check with the Seminole County, Florida Gov. Website. The business has to have a business license to operate and it will list the main management. This is open information for all to read and see. Check with Florida State Gov. to see what the corporation is listed under and who actually owns the school. Some interesting facts will show up. You could pull a Dunn & Bradstreet report which will list all the current credit, debt, corporate management and other interesting facts. This will cost a few $$ but will be well worth it.


New Member
Well, I'll do what I can to answer any questions your friends in Europe may have.

First, I really, really hope that DCA is not telling people they will be hired after finishing their CPL! I am to assume that this is a misunderstanding, but if your friends are unsure, I can assure that they do not hire CPL's with less than 1000 hours (FAA conversions would be required as well). If they wished to instruct at the Academy, they would need a Green Card and work authorization, not just a student VISA. We do have several instructors from several different countries, but they all have work authorization.

Second, please ask your friends to clarify what DCA is trying to sell them, because it is my understanding that our JAA department has left. Also, the only thing that European students are doing here is time building for their ATPL. Granted, it is cheaper to build time flying in the states than in Europe (see AOPA magazine "Flying in America"; August 2005). In any case, make sure they are aware that FAA conversions and time building are the only thing I see European students doing here anymore.

This may have been old information your friends received, I don't know for sure. But, I do know that if you have any further questions, I will be happy to answer them for you and your friends.



New Member
what future students need to know

dca is expensive and if you really want to go there you should know exactly what it will cost. here are the advertised costs and number of hours in primary training 0 time to cfi

235 hours @ $31/hour $7285
Flight instruction:
(instructor fees)
cessna 152 56.5 hours @ 54/hour $3051
cessna 172 45 hours @ 54/h $2403
piper arrow 28 hours @ 54/h $1512
piper seminole 20 hours @ 54/h $1080
frasca single engine ftd 33 hours @54/h $1782
frasca multi ftd 4 hours @54/h $216
frasca jet sim 3 hours @70/h $210
pcatd 25 hours @ 54/h $1350 (this is changing for pc time requirements)

flight briefings 150 hours @ 54/h $8100
jet flight briefing 3 hours @ 70 $210

a/c fees not including fuel surcharges
cessna 152 75.5 hours @ 78/h= $5889
cessna 172 45.0 hours @ 99/h= $4455
piper arrow 28 hours @ 139/h= $3892
piper sem 20 hours @ 199/h= $3980
single ftd 33 hours @ 76/h= $2508
multi ftd 4 hours @ 113/h=$452
jet ftd 3 hours @160/h=$480
pcatd 25 hours @ 55/hour=$ 1375

5 knowledge tests at 92/each =$460
5 flight tests at $375 each= $1875 (yes you pay for a flight test even tho they are done in house not with a dpe for private and instrument)

that adds up to $52592 for ppl instr csel cmel and cfia

the cfii is
academics 20 hours at 31/h =$620
cessna 172 15 hours 54/h for instructor =$810
ftd 1 hour $54

10 hours of flight briefs $540

c172 15 hours at 99/hour =$1485
ftd 1 hour $76

knowledge test $92
flight test $375

total $4052

20 hours academics $620
piper seminole 54/hour instructor 13 hours $702
ftd 4 hours inst at 54 =$216

7 hours flight brief $378

pa 44 13 hours at 199 $2587
ftd 4 hours at 113 $ 452

flight test $375

now we are at 196.5 hours of flying and $61,974.00 now keep that in mind while reading the article from this months flying magazine

page 55 in the oct 2005 issue
the article deals with the new 10 plus four way to the airlines where you get an interview with 700 hours total time

"the program gives graduates of the program the opportunity to interview with an airline after only 700 hours total flight time(250 to 300 hours of primary training and 400 hours as flight instructors). The name derives from the 10 months of training and then 400 hours of flight instruction."

so by their own article your primary training should take 250 to 300 hours of flying time which i might add is consistent with what ive heard as a student. so the advertised price is based on 196.5 hours yet they expect you to take 250 to 300 hours

this is about 27% to 50% more flight time than what they based "the cost" on

a little bit more math for you

53.5 hours to get to 250 103.5 to get to 300 what is the cost of getting those hours at dca?

53.5 hours in a 152 will cost you the $78/hour for the plane and $54 for the instructor and for each flight you take there is a one half hour flight brief added on for $27 dollars and figuring that you will average 1.5 hours on each flight you are looking at 35 to 36 flights which will cost $8547

for the 103 hours you can basically double that to about $17000

now thats a minimum cost based on you only flying the 152 for the extra hours they know you will fly

so lets add it up now

$8547 that they didnt tell you about
and if you are doing the 10 plus 4 then you pay for the jet transition course at a cost of $11263
these prices dont include any books or flight gear like knee boards and plates
so add another $2500 and you are looking at a price of

thats in line with what i was on track to spend as a student and what most of my friends were too. if the advertisers were willing to give that as the cost analysis then there would be far fewer angry students posting on here and guys like Don wouldnt have to warn people.

do your homework and know what things cost before you jump in b/c of a fancy ad


Well-Known Member
I thik I'll use this thread to put in a word for the college programs (at least the BCC one).

While the BBC program had it's issues in the past, these days it appears to be running quite well with istructors now finishing their time quicker then those in Sanford. Former students of mine who were hired just under a year ago are now finished with their times, and it is a more "relaxed" environment. Having a much smaller staff/ dispatch area also gives it more of an FBO feel with the big school advantages.

The biggest advantage with the college program, apart from the extra flexibility, is the reduced cost. Here are some examples:

Ground school: 1 semester for each required 141 ground school. Rather then pay by the hour DCA rates, you pay the community college for 3 credit hours, which works out at about $180 for FL residents. Not a bad deal.

Instruction: When I went through the program 5 years ago, I paid a LOT less then the $45 an hour Sanford charges. It was $28 an hour, which was even less then what F.I.T was charging it's advanced students at the time. It's now been raised to around $33 or $35 an hour, but still a $20/hr savings over Sanford.

Simulator: In the last 3-4 years, the college has gone from old ATC-710s and 810s to brand new Frascas and some other sharp looking sim who's manufacturer I'm not sure of. However, the prices have remained about the same....about $150 for 10 hours. Thats $15 an hour for the Frasca....a steal compared to the rates of any other flight school in the area. Couple this with the lower instructor rate and it adds up to substantial savings in the instrument course.

Jet transition: Free for everyone who has gone through the college program so far, and as far as I know, still free for those currently in the program.

All these price differences add up and lead to some substantial savings. FOr those that are after an aviation degree, you can get 2 years at community college prices, tranfer to Riddle obtain some serious credit for CFI time and finish at reduced Riddle extended campus rates. I'll be finishing my 4 year shortly and altogether my flight training costs + cost to obtain a 4 year degree combined equal less then the cost of going through the Sanford course 5 years ago and a lot less then those going through it now.

Disclaimer: It's been a year since I worked there and rates specified have not been checked with current rates. If there have been any drastic changes in the last year that I am unware of, please feel free to correct me.


Well-Known Member
PM from John O'Brien

"DE727UPS - I am the VP of Ops & Mtc at DCA. DCA is indeed owned by Delta. The Academy was originally started by Comair in 1989 and when Delta purchased Comair, along with it came the Academy as well as Delta Air Elite. This all is public information.
I doubt that there is any representation by anyone that an international student graduating from DCA would be hired at Delta because there is no guarantee anywhere, Delta isn't hiring, and we don't feed to Delta, we feed to the regionals (primarily Delta Connection). If I am wrong, and somebody is representing us as being a guaranteed path to Delta, I would appreciate knowing the details so I can fix that.
Otherwize, I will be glad to answer any questions if you need clarification (provided I know the answer).
John O'Brien"

I asked this guy to post this at Jetcareers rather than PMing me personally. I hate PM's as they don't serve to educate the masses at Jetcareers. Guess he's too busy or doesn't care about my quest for truth in big academy advertising...hehe. Anyhow, I think this is the final answer in the question posted by Skyrunner1500 on behalf of the European guys and DCA. I think Skyrunner can take this to his acquaintances to correct any possible misunderstandings about DCA marketing statements. I would still love to see some of the European guys to whom these claims were allegedly made, speak's just to hard to believe, otherwise.


Well-Known Member
Thanks a lot to everybody for the replies.

Actually, my friends recieved a written letter, stating what I mentioned above. I have seen one of them for myself, when one of my friends(Hannes, he already promised me to get on here and post!) asked me if I knew this school he got a letter from. I just went and checked the thread and noticed that he did not post as of now, I'll go ahead and call him. He should have been on here since last weekend to speak out.

I will send out again a "mass-email" to everybody who has contacted me, inquiring about this school, including the Link to this thread. Additionally, I will post the thread in some german message boards, as they refer to DCA quite often.

Honestly, I expected a simliar response from DCA. What else should they say? "Yes, it's true, we sent out such letters." They would probalby lose their last tiny bit of credibility and ruin themselfs if they would agree. But it's great to get an official statement from the school itself, I guess not many would have reacted, so that's a big plus for DCA. From the other posts, it sounds like they undergo some changes in their operation and marketing, what is good.

They can be sure, that there are many european students looking at them in the next time, since they heavily advertised a combined FAA/JAA program this summer over here, with an (according to this thread: revoked) employment guarantee.


New Member
Don't base what others say about DCA. I don't goto DCA anymore but I was a student there a few months ago. Some of the instructors are good while others are not. There not the only 141 Jaa program out there also so shop around. I left DCA after I found out I could of gotten my private ticket for about 8k cheaper back home and they have self examing authority on everything. You just need to find a school thats best suited for your needs. Being owned by the airlines means nothing I know a guy that got hired with 900 hours.


New Member

in addition to my opening post in the members-section:

- I showed the letter that I recieved from DCA (from the other posts, I think that is your shortcut for Delta Connection Academy?) to skyrunner...yes, this letter really exists. He quoted it correctly, as far as I see.

- It was my(and two others) question, who owns DCA and he said, he cannot think that they are really owned by Delta, but he will research that for me.

I hope to learn more about DCA and other flight schools on jetcareers! :)


Mama Bear....
Staff member
can you scan the letter and put it up as an attachment? or at least scan it, and send it to doug or myself? we'd like to see it for ourselves...


New Member

No problem, I will do that next week, Monday or Tuesday when I'm back in College, for you. I don't have a scanner or digital camera at home. Otherwise I'd do it right now.


New Member
pilot_at said:

- It was my(and two others) question, who owns DCA and he said, he cannot think that they are really owned by Delta, but he will research that for me.
DCA is (in a roundabout way) owned by Delta. If you look at Delta.Com - the annual report(s) - DCA is listed as a Subsisiary of Delta.

Annual Report -->

See Exhibit 21.1 (towards the end)

DCA - Formerly known as Comair Aviation Academy (CAA) - was owned by Comair. When Delta became a 100% shareholder of Comair - CAA came along with Comair - and was then renamed to DCA


New Member
DCA Is A Money Pit!

You get a great education. I was quoted a price of over $46,000. that is doing everything right the first time and not bust any stage checks and not having any maintenance issues and completing every lesson every time. I ended up spending $75,000 on flight training alone. My loan is for $100k!! That is what DCA does not tell you. They take your money and then treat you like crap. There is a culture at that place that is if you piss off hte wrong person, you won't get hired. That is the truth about DCA. email me I would be happy to talk to anyone who wants to know what it is really like. they have junk planes but the president drives a $90k Mercades!!!


Well-Known Member
Me too.

I think it must have been a cultural thing. Ya know, those who are not used to the American need to read the fine print and read between the lines of big academy flight school marketing.


New Member
It's easy for people to say that DCA took their money and treated them like crap....but still continue to attend THROUGH their CFI rating. If it was that bad of a place, why not pack up and leave after PVT or INST? Also, you say that you had over 300 hours when you completed the program? That's kinda high...It is common sense that if it takes someone extra flights to complete a rating, then it's going to cost more....hopefully you wouldn't need an admission rep to tell you that.

By the way, the President of DCA drives a $40,000 BMW.


New Member
dcapilot whats your story? how many hours and how much money for each of your ratings?

did you feel that the admissions rep gave a fair picture of what its costing you?

i know of two guys that are just finishing up com single engine and they are between 220 and 240 hours each.

wow bmws are only 40k? i still want to know who the porsche belongs to.