Part 61 or Part 141 Flight Training: What’s the Difference?
All flight training falls into one of two categories. These are defined in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 61 and Part 141. More commonly referred to as the FAR’s. If you plan to learn to fly you would do well to understand which is which, what the advantage of each is, and which will help you achieve your goals most effectively.
Both methods work. Both systems require students to study a series of topics in ground school, then demonstrate a command of that information by passing an FAA knowledge test, which students typically refer to as the written test.
In both Part 61 and Part 141 the student is matched up with a flight instructor. That instructor is charged with the task of introducing their student to a specific series of tasks, the knowledge necessary to perform those tasks safely, the ability to demonstrate each task while remaining within FAA established standards, and the risk management issues associated with each.
Regardless of which program you train under, the performance standards required to earn a certificate are exactly the same, conducted under a document known as the ACS or Airman Certification Standards. The ACS defines the maneuvers to be covered by an examiner for a checkride and tolerances to which they must be performed. Those maneuvers and tolerances are the same for applicants trained in both Part 141 and 61 programs.
It is in the training processes that precede a checkride that Part 61 and Part 141 training differ. Part 141 programs require FAA approval of everything from the syllabus to dispatch processes to classroom layouts. There is little flexibility for students, instructors, or staff. There are costly and time-consuming record-keeping requirements which add little to the cost of instruction.
Due to the onerous nature of FAA oversight and many outdated provisions in Part 141, many flight training programs that at one time would have been conducted under Part 141 now train under Part 61. The only real reason to choose a 141 program over a well-structured 61 school would be financing requirements (using VA benefits require a 141 school) or immigration status. As long as the Part 61 program is well structured, similar results can be expected.
That is the caution for prospective pilots searching for flight training. If you choose a Part 61 school, you need to confirm that the school has standardized operations in everything from syllabus to flight procedures.
Rexair is a 141 Approved Flight School. Although we can and do use our 141 approval for some flight training, we find that most of our clients are better off training under Part 61. In either case the aircraft, instructors, syllabus, and lesson tracking are the same, but with fewer FAA reporting requirements and restrictions.
We believe that our system of the structure of 141 training paired with the flexibility of 61 training is the optimal solution for most pilots in training.
Tour the schools you’re considering. Talk to their students as well as their instructors and staff. Take the time to make the choice that works best for you, and you will be far more likely to succeed in the long run.