Why Part 61 Is a Better Option Than Part 141 For Your Flight Training. Learning to fly aircraft has been a dream of many people over the years and they have taken to learning their passion in a variety of ways. Today the ability to learn to fly is more available than ever before, and barriers such as health, availability, and cost are becoming much easier to cross than in the past. The two most common ways to learn to fly are through civilian run flight schools broken down into two main categories.
First Step to Choosing a Flight School
In these the greatest days of flight in human history, there is a plethora of pilots with a vast variety of motivations, age, gender, and ethnicity, but the one thing we all share in common as future pilots is being certified healthy enough to fly. With this in mind your health may be a deciding factor on what kind of license you should go for. Part 141 schools are set up for the healthy, career-oriented pilot; hence the reduction in hours for those later licenses. While this is a good thing, it could also lead to limited experience on the school’s end in helping future students who are not yet sure what they are capable of in flying. Depending on the health concern, a Special Issuance Medical may be required or possibly a sport pilot license (only a valid driver’s license required), which will always fall under Part 61. With any medical conditions, it is important to get your information from a knowledgeable flight instructor who can walk you thru the process and provide the first steps to getting your FAA medical certificate.
What is Part 141?
The major differences occur between 61 and 141 is in the use of the syllabus and in the flight schools themselves. Part 141 refers specifically to flight schools with a syllabus approved by the FAA and includes a rigorous approval process which requires a number of successful student-pass rates in order to maintain their 141 status. With that approval these schools have recently been able to attract more students and advertise a reduction in the number of hours 141 students are required to have logged to complete their commercial and air transport pilot certificates. These reductions are fairly large and at first glance can seem extremely advantageous. However it is good to be skeptical and like anything do your research.
The Benefits to Part 61
The biggest factor on why Part 61 is better is because of flexibility and availability. Part 141 flight schools are mainly completed in a university/classroom environment requiring many hours of ground school for each individual stage. These classes can vary in length but normally last a standard semester–separate from the time spent in the airplane, and can dramatically extend the time it might take to complete the license. With family and work, it can leave very little time, and from my experience it can be hard to even have a part time job while training Part 141. If there is any competition on aircraft rental or weather concerns, training may be extended even more. These concerns are addressed heavily under Part 61 with an emphasis on efficient use of time both on the ground and in the airplane. This also includes time spent training on the weekends and summer vacation, which is less available in the University setting. On the ground, Part 61 focuses on providing the student with the tools to decide how and when they want to learn and study. With both in person and online ground school classes, students get the best of both worlds. They can self-study on those things they do not require much help on and spend time with an instructor on the ground only going over the things they need extra help and clarification with. In the air, Part 61 focuses on the student’s schedule, greatly benefiting both high school and college schedules as well as full and part time workers. Having the ability to set up your schedule to your needs could make the difference in being able to complete a degree, continuing to build your career, or to avoid having to take out a loan to complete your license. At Inflight we only train under part 61 because we are a value driven flight school who looks to get the most value for your money. We have the option to go Part 141 but we see it as a choice that would impact our students in a negative way.
Cost and Ways to Keep it Down
The final major factor that should affect your decision on learning to fly Part 61 over Part 141 is cost. Aviation is expensive to learn, there is no arguing that, but that is exactly why it is so important to find the best deal. The way to do this is by avoiding unnecessary cost. An example of unnecessary cost could be that first private pilot ground school. Under 141 the student is required to pay, on average, over $1000 dollars for a semester of ground school. While Part 61 could provide the same service for substantially less even allowing the student to shop online and pick other private ground school courses for around a tenth of Part 141. These costs can be even greater, in many cases, for pilots struggling to complete the flight training. More and more Part 141 flight schools are adopting a no tolerance policy for students who fail to complete the flight training in their designated program within in their allotted period of time. Students may then be required to re-purchase much of the same course again, complete it – and then wait till the proceeding semester to continue. And with limited help, these students often get left behind. It is costs like these that are unanticipated which can have a dramatic effect on your bottom line. Both on the ground and in the air Part 61 has the freedom to always fit their flight training to the individual to encourage faster growth, and reduce the overall cost.
As a student and flight instructor of Part 141 and Part 61, I have experienced the best and worst of these very different teaching styles. And to anyone who is on the fence, do your research and check reviews, know what you want and know what your options are. The test is the same for both and so is the certificate. Good Luck with your future pilot training and feel free to contact us with any questions.