What are Part 61 and Part 141 flight schools?

You may hear flight schools talk about “Part 61” and “Part 141” programs. This refers to different parts of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) that set minimum standards for flight training. In general, Part 61 schools are local flight schools that train students on a one-on-one, customized basis, and are not necessarily career-oriented flight academies. Part 141 schools are usually larger, more structured programs, often emphasizing professional pilot training.

No special designation or certification is needed to operate as a flight school. However, a flight school can choose to be certified under FAR Part 141, “Pilot Schools.” In addition to specifying minimum qualifications and requirements for the school’s personnel and facilities, Part 141 provides for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval of the school’s training curriculum. The school is subject to FAA inspection, and must meet minimum performance levels in terms of preparing students for the FAA flight test.

Certainly, Part 141 certification can be viewed as evidence of at least a minimum standard of quality and performance. However, it does not mean that instruction at a Part 61 school will be inferior. In fact, many Part 141 schools also train students under Part 61 because it allows for greater flexibility in accommodating a part time student’s schedule and pace of learning. Don’t base your decision solely on whether a school is Part 61 or 141.

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John knows how lucky he is to go to work every day at an airport. As Vice President of Sporty’s Pilot Shop’s Catalog Division, he says, “I get to hang around airplanes all the time, flying regularly and testing new products for the catalog.” Coming from an aviation family, John grew up in the back of small airplanes and learned to fly as a teenager. Ever since, he has been hooked on anything with wings and regularly flies a Citabria, a Pilatus PC-12 and a Robinson R44 helicopter. Despite his love of low and slow flight, John says, “I love the challenge of IFR flying in the system. Seeing the runway lights as you break out on approach is a thrill.”