03 Aug 2013

Choosing a Flight School Program – Part 141 vs. Part 61

Want to earn your wings? Flying can be an exciting, adventurous hobby—or a challenging career path. If you’re researching flight schools and pilot training programs, you’ll want to pick a school that is approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). You will see programs listed as “Part 61” or “Part 141”. These refer to two sections of Federal Aviation Regulations that govern pilot training programs. You can enroll in either type of program to become a private or commercial pilot. However, each program has a different structure and requirements for completion before you take your licensing exams. Part 61 Training Programs Training courses covered under FAR Part 61 cover all of the basics that pilots need to know in order to take their FAA Knowledge and Practical exams. They are a best fit program for those who wish to become private or hobby aviators, although it is possible to prepare for commercial licensing exams in a Part 61 program. The main benefits of Part 61 programs include:

  • No Ground School Requirement: In a Part 61 program, you do not need to take separate classroom courses. You can study the information covered in ground school at home or with a private instructor elsewhere.
  • Good for Part-Time Students: If you are working and don’t want to stop working, enrolling in a Part 61 training program may be a better fit for you. Part 61 programs do not have to offer classes to a fixed schedule or sequence, so you can take the courses you need whenever your school is willing to offer them.
  • Extra Flight Time: Part 61 pilot training programs require more flight time than Part 141 programs. For private certification, you need a minimum of 40 hours flight time, and 250 hours for commercial certification.

The main disadvantage of Part 61 programs is the fact that you cannot pay for them with Financial Aid from the Government. Additionally, the flexible nature of schedules in a Part 61 program mean it may take longer to complete your courses than it would in a Part 141 program. Part 141 Training Programs Part 141 training programs are subject to approval and inspection by the FAA. In a Part 141 training program, the school’s syllabus, facilities, and instructors are all monitored and checked by the FAA. This accreditation process makes the programs eligible to accept financial aid and student loans as payment. The advantages of training with a Part 141 school include:

  • Comprehensive Training: You will take ground school courses concurrently with your practical flight training skills. This ensures you have direct instruction in all areas covered by the FAA Knowledge and Practical exams.
  • On-Site Examinations: Many Part 141 schools are able to offer facilities for taking your FAA licensing tests. This includes computer labs dedicated to taking the written tests, plus airport facilities and access to examiners.
  • Fully Vetted Faculty: Training at a Part 141 school means you will study with instructors whose credentials have been approved by the FAA, and who are more likely to undertake ongoing professional development.
  • Accelerated Completion: The full-time, highly-structured nature of Part 141 flight training programs means you know from the beginning how long it will take you to complete your courses. Additionally, the FAA lowers the amount of time needed for practice flying. Private licensing can be attempted after a minimum of 35 hours’ flying, or 190 hours for a commercial license.

As a result, Part 141 training programs are a best fit for students who want to train full-time to begin an aviation career.