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Part 61 vs. Part 141 Flight Training
One of the most basic questions any potential flight students has is what kind of school to attend. Some schools advertise their "Part 141" status, but exactly what that means is rarely clarified.
Below is the clearest explanation I've come across that lays out the difference between Part 61 and Part 141 flight training, and the potential advantages and disadvantages of each.
When a flight school talks about training under Part 61 or being a Part 141 approved school, it is talking about the federal regulations under which it has the authority to train pilots. Both sets of regulations define minimum requirements for pilot training and certification.
Any FAA-approved flight instructor, whether associated with a flight school or not, may train a student under Part 61 regulations.
Part 141 regulations are related to the structure and approval of flight schools. Training under Part 141 regulations is permitted only by instructors associated with an FAA-approved flight school. In order to become approved, a flight school must meet certain requirements and submit each curriculum it wishes to have approved to the FAA for review. Part 141 approved schools are subject to regular surveillance audits by the FAA and must meet minimum pass rates on the practical exams.
Both methods of flight training require the student to meet the same standard of performance in order to obtain a pilot certificate. Where the methods differ is in rigidity and in some minimum requirements.
Ultimately, the way a student learns and his or her long-term goals may be the best criteria for deciding the regulations under which to train. After making that determination, the student needs to find the best fit among the choices within the preferred regulations. Both excellent and inferior flight instruction may be found under both sets of regulations.
The table below describes some of the potential advantages and disadvantages for the training regulations. It may be noted that some criteria can be both, depending on the student's training goals.
- More flexible training environment. This may allow the instructor to modify his or her program to meet the students' desires and goals
- Better for part-time students pursuing flight training on a less regular schedule
- Student can interview and choose the flight instructor that fits best
- Less structures training environment
- May require more flight training hours
- May have fewer instructors to choose from at a given airport
- Truly "independent" flight instructors may be difficult for new students to find unless they have a referral
- More structured training environment.
- Better for full-time carrier oriented students
- Good students may be able to complete certificates in fewer hours if the school's curriculum has been approved for this
- May be too rigid for students not planning to pursue an aviation carrier
- Faster pace may overwhelm some students
- School may not always provide the students with a choice on instructor assignment. That being said, better school will allow an instructor change if there is a mismatch
- May not be available at local airport