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Step 2: Choosing a Flight School

Chosing a flight school that meets your flying goals is very important. Step 2 will help you research and choose a flight school that meets your flying goals.

Types of Flight Schools
School Certification: Part 61 or Part 141
Choosing a Flight School



Types of Flight Schools
There are various types of flight schools to choose from in which each school has its advantages and disadvantages. Most flight schools can train students from zero flight time through private, commercial, instrument, multi-engine, and flight instructor certificates and ratings in 10 months to 2 years. However, the length of any flight training program is dependent on your individual progress.

US Military Services
Colleges and Universities
Two-Year Community Colleges
Airline-Operated Academies
Flight Academies
Fixed-Based-Operators (FBOs)

U.S. Military Services
The U.S. Military Services consist of several military branches such as the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Reserve, National Guard, and Coast Guard. Each branch has a flight training program to train select individuals to fly their aircraft ranging from helicopters, fighter jets to large transport aircraft. The U.S. Military Services has the best flight training program in the world, spending approximately a million dollars on each student. Their flight training program consists of a rigorous process. In order to be a military pilot, you must be commissioned as an officer, have a college degree, and meet other requirements outlined by each branch. You must also commit several years of service to the military branch in which you’re an officer. The military offer good benefits and compensation to their pilots/officers. If you are interested in becoming a military pilot, read the Military Route and Military Services channel to learn more about this option.


Four-Year Colleges/Universities
There are numerous four-year colleges/universities throughout the United States and Canada that offers flight training and aviation/aerospace-related programs. Colleges/universities are usually certified under FAR Part 141. The quality of education at many of the colleges/universities is considered of highest caliber, because it combines both aviation and traditional academic courses. Some institutions are highly selective about admitting applicants into their flight training program. Most colleges/universities that offer flight training for college credit would prefer that students start and train within their system. However, some institutions accept students who have earned their Private Pilot Certificate and/or other certificates and ratings from a transfer school (i.e. 2-Year Community College).

The main advantages of attending a college/university is that you can earn college credit in addition to your pilot certificates and ratings. Upon completion the academic program, you would have earned an Associate’s and/or Bachelor’s degree(s) in an aviation/aerospace-related career field. If you don't have a degree and wish to pursue a career in aviation, this may be a good choice for you. Other advantages are the various financial aid opportunities available to eligible students and partnerships some institutions have formed with various regional airlines. Institutions that have formed partnerships with regional airlines incorporate the airline’s training program into their flight training curriculum. The goal of the partnership is to create new-hire pilots for the partnering airline. If you are accepted into a regional airline program, it may guarantee you an interview, but it does not guarantee you a job.

Some disadvantages of attending a college/university are the length of the training program and costs. At some four-year colleges/universities, all pilot certificates and ratings are generally earned over a four-year time frame. Others may allow you to earn all of your certificates and rates within two-years. This is another reason to review the school’s flight training program and curriculum. Your flight training costs are not considered part of the school’s tuition; they are added to your estimated cost of attending a school. The total cost of attending a college/university is higher due to tuition, fess, room and board, and flight training costs. Remember, you are earning your pilot certificates and ratings, and an Associate’s and/or Bachelor’s degree at the same time.

Please Note: Most major airlines prefer applicants to have a four-year Bachelor’s degree. You do not have to major in an aviation/aerospace-related program to become an airline pilot. There are thousands of pilots flying for the major/national airlines and large corporations that have college degrees in other career fields such as medicine, law, accounting, engineering, and more. Actually, it’s a good idea to have an educational background in another field, just in case the aviation industry is in a slow down due to the economy, if you are unable to receive an airmen medical certificate due to health reasons, or other circumstances.

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Two-year Community/Junior Colleges
There are some two-year community/junior colleges that offer flight training programs, in which students can earn all their pilot certificates and ratings, and an Associate’s degree in an aviation-related career field. Typically, two-year community/junior colleges are certified under FAR Part 141. These institutions also offer financial aid to eligible students through the federal government and private lenders. After graduating from a community/junior college with an Associate’s degree, many students transfer to a four-year college/university to further their education by pursuing a Bachelor’s and/or advanced degree(s) in an aviation/aerospace-related career field or other field such as science, engineering, etc.


Airline Owned Academy
There two well-known airline-owned and operated flight academies that have a direct feed (job placement program) into the regional airlines. These academies are certified under FAR Part 141 in which they offer the intense ab-initio program for full-time flight students. The ab-initio program train students with zero flight time through private, commercial, instrument, multi-engine, and/or flight instructor certificate and ratings in a short period of time (from 10 months to 2 years). This program is designed for students whose career goal is to become an airline pilot. Airline owned academies offer financial aid to eligible students through the federal government and private lenders.

Students enrolled in airline-owned and operated academies are not obligated to work for the airline that operates the academy, and they are not guaranteed a job upon the completion of training. After completing the flight training program, students can apply to other airlines for employment. These academies also train pilots for other client airlines. Airline-owned academies may have joined forces with nearby college/university to offer college credit to their students.

Flight Academies
Flight Academies (proprietary academies) offer intense flight training programs similar to the ab-initio program. The ab-initio program train students with zero flight time through private, commercial, instrument, multi-engine, and/or flight instructor certificate and ratings in a short period of time (from 10 months to 2 years). Some flight academies offer financial aid to eligible students through the federal government and private lenders. Some flight academies have also formed partnerships with various regional airlines to interview and possibly hire their students.

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Fixed Based Operators
Almost all local airports have Fixed-Based-Operators (FBOs) that offer various services such as flight training, maintenance, fuel, etc.. FBOs offer students the convenience of training at their own pace. This is ideal for students who want to fly for leisure or train on a part-time basis due to various reasons such as busy schedules, financial hurdles, etc. If you decide to train at a local FBO, it is important that you shop around for the right school that has a good reputation for safety, quality of training, and good flight instructors. FBOs are either certified under FAR Part 61, Part 141, or both. Flight training costs at a local FBO are generally lower than costs at colleges, universities, airline-owned academies, and nationally recognized flight academies.


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School Certification: Part 61 or Part 141


Written by: Sedgwick Hines Copyright 2004-2011 AvScholars Publishing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

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Learn to Fly: Become a Pilot is your one-stop source to information on flight training, flying lessons, flight schools, and helicopter schools. Learn about the entire flight training process to help you earn your pilot certificates or ratings such as student pilot certificate, commercial pilot certificate, instrument rating, and others.

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