Flight Schools


The rules governing Aviation in the U.S. are governed by the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs). "Part 61" is the section of the FARs that pertains to the certification of pilots. Thus, "Part 61" sets out the minimum aeronautical knowledge and aeronautical experience necessity to qualify for any type of Pilot Certificate including the Private Pilot Certificate. If you successfully complete the minimum requirements for a Private Pilot Certificate under "Part 61", then a Private Pilot Certificate is issued by the FAA.


But there is another way to qualify for a Pilot Certificate: "Part 141". The best way to understand this part is to suppose that Florida State University decides that it want to offer a pilot training program within the University. They would hire the appropriate qualified people and set up an entire program just like the Florida State University School of Medicine. If they do it right and under the terms of "Part 141", the FAA is empowered to license Florida State as a "Part 141 Flight School".


The benefits of a school being licensed under "Part 141" are twofold. First, the minimum aeronautical experience necessity to qualify for a Pilot Certificate under "Part 141" is somewhat less than under "Part 61" (in the case of the Private Pilot Certificate 35 hours of aeronautical experience as opposed to 40 hours in a "Part 61" program). And second, as a "Part 141 Flight School" it’s easier to qualify students for financing. The down side of "Part 141" licensing is a much more structured program that is many times difficult to configure to the needs of the part-time student.


Both "Part 61" and "Part 141" programs produce excellent pilots. Nevertheless, it is easy to get into a lively discussion of which type of school produces good pilots faster. The fact of the matter is that some "Part 61" training programs are better than others and some "Part 141" training programs are better than others. But it's hard to compare them. Let's face it, a good Flight Instructor that the student gets along with and has confidence in, is going to make the student the best and safest pilot in the shortest time possible. And a good Flight Instructor is a good Flight Instructor whether he or she is giving instruction in a "Part 61" program or "Part 141" program.


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