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Step 2: Flight School Certification: FAR Part 61 vs Part 141

Flight schools are either certified under Part 61, Part 141, or both of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs). Part 61 and Part 141 certified flight schools offer the same basic training and require the same FAA exams. The major difference is the flight training environment. Some students prefer a structured flight training environment under Part 141 and others prefer a flexible (less structured) flight training environment under Part 61. You can receive excellent flight training under both Part 61 and 141 certified flight schools in which they have the same objective – to help you earn your pilot certificate(s) and rating(s).

Let’s review Part 61 and Part 141 in more details:

Part 61
Flight schools certified under Part 61 offer a flexible (less structured) training program in which their training syllabus is not subject to FAA approval. Part 61 flight schools allow instructors to rearrange lesson plans to suit the individual needs of their students. However, they must adhere to the requirements under the FARs and train their students to the standards of Part 61.

Training under Part 61 does not require students to complete a formal ground school. Students have the options of attending a ground school course, home-study program, or hiring an instructor to review and teach any materials they are having problems understandings. However, all students must pass the FAA Knowledge and Practical Tests for the particular certificate or rating. The regulations governing a flight school under FAR Part 61 are less strict than schools operating under FAR Part 141, and therefore require more minimum flight hours to obtain your certificate or rating.


Part 141
Flight schools certified under Part 141 provide a structured training program with a standardized training syllabus approved by the FAA. This ensures that all necessary skills are taught in a specific order through lesson plans. Students are also required to complete a specific number of hours of formal ground instruction in a classroom or one on one with a certificated flight instructor, and pass the FAA Knowledge and Practical Tests.

Flight schools must obtain approval from the FAA and adhere to several FAA regulations in order to maintain their Part 141 certification. Part 141 certification requires: an approved flight training syllabus for each course, instructor standardization, stage checks and exams given by the Chief Flight Instructor or his/her assistants, and regular FAA inspections of school facilities, aircrafts, simulators and training devices. Detailed records for each student’s progress are also kept, in which periodic inspections are conducted by the FAA.

Since flight schools certified under Part 141 must adhere to FAA regulations, their students are allowed to complete the pilot certificate or rating in fewer flight training hours as compared to Part 61 flight schools. However, most students will exceed the minimum flight hours to meet the proficiency standards to pass the practical test.

For example:
A Private Pilot Certificate may be achieved in 35 hours of flight time under Part 141 rather than 40 hours under Part 61. This difference may be insignificant for a Private Pilot Certificate because the national average indicates most pilots require 60 to 75 hours of flight training to earn this certificate.
A Commercial Pilot Certificate may be achieved in 190 hours of flight time under Part 141 rather than 250 hours under Part 61.

Please note: Do your homework by reaching various flight schools (link - Choosing a Flight School), meeting with potential instructor(s), and talking to current students at each school by asking them about their training experiences. Each flight school should follow a syllabus. During your visit to a flight school, ask for an outline of their training syllabus.

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Choosing a Flight School

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.

Copyright © 2003 - 2011 AvScholars Publishing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.