Different types of US flight schools

With a lot of pilots recruitment happening now (especially in United States), now is a good time for many aspiring aviators to get their wings. Choosing the best training option can take time and effort to navigate, such as determining which type of training program best suits your needs.

How the FAA Regulates Pilot Certification and Training

In the United States, aviation is governed by a normative a framework consisting of Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) that are divided into parts. Think of them as chapters in a book. Each part refers to a specific area of ‚Äč‚Äčmanagement. For example, Part 43 deals with maintenance, Part 91 with general aviation operations, and Part 121 with airlines.


Flight training is governed by one of two parts: Part 61 and Part 91. Part 61 of the FARs deals with pilot certification regulations. It outlines the topics covered during flight training and the number of flight hours required to obtain specific flight certificates. This also applies to flight training and Part 141, which governs flight school certification.

First of all, it is important to know that both types of flight training cover the same material. The difference is in the preparation itself

Photo: FAA

part 61

Part 61 is about flexibility and gives you much more control over your individual flight training experience. You will work with an instructor who will design a course tailored to you. They will be responsible for which lessons you take and in what order based on your specific goals and needs. This allows a lot more flexibility in your schedule and is ideal for those trying to work or study at school while also completing their flight training.

Another advantage of Part 61 is that it is generally a variable system. This means you usually pay per instructor and per lesson. This can save you money, but remember that the longer you take breaks between lessons, the more time it will take to practice the skills you’ve already acquired in the past. The FARs allow the instructor to determine when you will be ready for an independent and eventually practical flight test (also known as a “checkride”).

Female pilot

Photo: Alpha Aviation

part 141

If part 61 is about flexibility, part 141 is about structure. Some of the 141 flight schools have a strictly defined learning environment that must be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). These flight programs are typically designed for career pilots and offer a curriculum designed for career advancement.

Ground and flight training instructors must follow the same approved curriculum and training standards, making learning from different instructors easy. The learning environment can be fast-paced and students must be willing to learn and learn quickly. Unlike Part 61 operations, the Part 141 school’s curriculum includes a series of “staged checks”, which are assessments at various points during the course of each certificate. Pilots must have a passing score before moving on to the next stage.

Student pilot

Which option is better?

Parts 61 and 41 provide the training required to obtain a specific pilot certificate. Just because part 61 includes a less structured curriculum than part 141 does not mean that the training is worse. Both types of training must ensure that the applicant pilot can perform ASU.

Depending on how far you want to go with your flight training can determine which route is best for you. Completing a 141 route will save you money and earn you special pilot certificates with fewer flying hours than required under Part 61.

Minimum Private Pilot Certificates:

Part 61 – 40 hours of flight time

Part 141 – 35 hours of flight time

Minimum appliance ratings:

Part 61 – 40 hours of instrument flight

Part 141 – 35 hours of instrument flight

  • Part 141 removes the 50 hour running requirement.

Minimum Commercial Pilot Certificates:

Part 61 – 250 flight hours total time (including personal and instrument time)

Part 141 – 190 flight hours total time (including personal and instrument time)

It is possible to switch from part 141 to program 61; however, it is much harder to go the other way. So the time to consider all the options is worth it. Either way, you’re sitting on a plane and learning about the beauty of flying.

https://simpleflying.com/part-61-part-141-us-flight-school-comparison/ Different types of US flight schools

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