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Choosing A Flight School:
The Differences Between FAA Part 61 and 141 Flight Schools

By Jeff Miller
September 7, 2008

For those considering a career as a pilot, experienced pilot Jeff Miller offers information and advice about how to make some important decisions in the beginning of the process. Filled with valuable insights, Miller's two articles will help aspiring pilots understand much more about their pursuit.

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Choosing a flight school is a very personal decision. You will be investing a great deal of time and money throughout your flight training experience. The flight school that you choose will obviously play an important role in the type of pilot that you become. It is imperative that you analyze your flight training options just as you would for any investment. Some people research the purchase of a camera more than their choice of flight schools. Improper research and guidance prior to beginning your flight training could lead to potential devastating results with a significant loss of time and money.

To begin your flight school search, you must first understand the two types of flight training and flight school options that you have available (FAA part 61 flight schools and FAA part 141 flight schools).

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There are two different types of flight schools from which you can receive flight training to obtain your pilot license. There are flight schools that operate under Federal Aviation Regulations Part 61 and those that operate under Federal Aviation Regulations Part 141. Each flight school needs to provide you with specific training required by the FAA. The difference between a part 61 and a part 141 flight school is how the training is accomplished.

In the FAA’s book of rules and guidelines (FARS, which stands for federal aviation regulations) they have listed requirements and completion standards for the various pilot licenses that you can acquire. You simply need to decide which type of flight school and training environment will be best for you.

FAA Part 61 Flight Schools

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Flight schools that operate under rules governed by FAR 61 are granted more flexibility than part 141 schools. Under part 61, the FAA does not require the flight instructor’s curriculum to follow a syllabus. While they must adhere to the educational requirements (what needs to be covered) of the FAA, instructors can choose when and where to cover required materials based on student progress.

Students of a part 61 flight school are not required to complete a formal ground school program. If they wish, students can complete home study courses, or simply review material with a qualified flight instructor. Although not required to complete any formal ground school training, part 61 students must still pass the FAA practical exam for the license they are training for.

FAA Part 141 Flight Schools

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Flight schools operating under part 141 train within a more structured environment than their part 61 counterparts. Under part 141, flight schools must operate with an FAA approved syllabus. Instructors and students must adhere to the approved syllabus throughout the entire training. Periodically, a student will take stage checks administered by either the chief flight instructor or his/her designees. Students are also required to complete a certain number of hours of classroom instruction or one-on-one ground instruction with a flight instructor. As in a part 61 school, students must pass the FAA practical exam for the license they are training for.

Because part 141 schools operate under a more structured environment than part 61 schools, the FAA requires fewer flight training hours in a part 141 school versus a part 61 school. For example, the FAA requires a minimum of 40 flight hours to obtain a private pilot license through a part 61 school vs. the 35 minimum flight hours for part 141 schools. The hour difference may be insignificant in some cases. The national average indicates that most students require 65 to 70 hours of flight training before the instructor and student feels ready for the private pilot flight exam. Another example of the hour difference is in the commercial pilot license requirement. Part 61 requires 250 hours of flight time while part 141 has a minimum of 190 flight hours.

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These are the basic differences between a part 61 flight school and a part 141 flight school. Some part 61 schools simply find it impractical to qualify for a part 141 operating certificate. The beauty here is that you have a choice regarding the structure of your flight training. Both school types have their benefits and both have their share of stellar programs and instructors.

Your aviation dreams and goals play an important factor in the type of flight school that you choose. With the proper research, your flight training experience will lead to great accomplishments and self-satisfaction. Enjoy the ride. You are about to embark on a journey that only a small percentage of the world will do!
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Written by
Jeff Miller

Jeff Miller has been flying professionally for 22 years. In addition to flying, Jeff has a consulting business. His services range from general aviation consulting to providing advice to those looking for direction in the pursuit of pilot certification. Additionally, Jeff has published a book entitled "The Path To Flight-An Insider's Guide To Pursuing Flight Training." His book provides over 60 pages of insider's information for those looking to learn how to fly. He is currently a Captain on a Boeing 737 for a major commercial airline.

For additional information on Jeff's book, see his web site at http://www.dansonaerosource.com.

Additionally, you can contribute to his newly created blog here.

1 User Comments:
Username: Cobox [User Info]
Posted 2008-09-18 10:47:32 and read 32768 times.

Thanks for sharing, it was very helpful!

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