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In today’s blog post, we will be discussing what a Part 61 & Part 141 flight training means and we will also be discussing the difference between them to determine which is best for anybody interested in becoming a pilot. Having some knowledge about this topic will help you make an informed decision prior to starting your flight training journey.
I will be breaking down the parts of each type of training with regards to the different training certifications you need to obtain before you become a professional pilot; Private, Instrument rating and Commercial Pilot certification.
Before we dive in, first what is Part 61 or Part 141? These terms in
aviation are used to refer to the Federal Aviation Regulations in which
flight schools or flight instructors have the authority to train pilots.
They both refer to the minimum standards and requirements for pilot training
Part 61 is mainly conducted by any FAA approved flight instructor who may or may not be associated with a flight school. It is also conducted by flight schools that have FAA approved flight instructors, all they do is follow the rules under Part 61 to train students to become certified airmen. It is less structured in terms of the syllabus and the training schedule is a lot more flexible to accommodate all types of learners.
Part 141 on the other hand is a structured flight training environment, it is only conducted by schools that the FAA has certified with a Part 141 certification based on certain requirements that need to be met as set forth by the FAA.
Now let's take a look at how each one affects your flight training journey depending on what path you take.
Some Part 141 schools may emphasize the fact that their private pilot program requires 35 hours because they got the approval from the FAA to offer the certification at a minimum of 35 hours, while in most cases for Part 61 schools, the minimum required to get a Private Pilot certificate is 40 hours. This difference may shine a brighter light on Part 141 until you consider the fact that the national average to obtain a private pilot certificate is 60-75 hours. It is extremely rare to find students obtaining a private pilot certificate in less than 40-45 hours of flight training. So, bear this in mind when you want to choose one or the other for your privatepilot training. Odds are if you start flight training with no prior experience, you will need at least 40-55 hours of flight training to become a private pilot assuming your training schedule stays consistent.
The major difference in the requirements to get an Instrument rating through Part 141 or Part 61 is the 50 Hours Cross Country PIC time you need prior to your check ridein a Part 61 syllabus. Part 141 flight schools tell their customers that the real benefit to their programs is not having to meet this requirement. However, soon I will be explaining why this is not so much of a benefit as they make it seem. You see in order to get an IFR rating under most Part 141 programs, you need a hood time of at least 35 hours. Under Part 61 you need at least 40 hours of hood time. The catch is in a part 141 program, most of this hood time will have to be flown with your flight instructor, while in a part 61, only 15 hours needs to be flown with an instructor, you can fly the rest with an appropriately rated safety pilot which will save you some money on flight instructor fees. Also, in a part 61 program for 50 hours of cross-country PIC time, you can fly 30-40 hours of that with a safety pilot to various airports and still be able to log that hood time towards your Instrument Rating. This is not possible with a Part 141 program.
With regards to using simulators to help earn an instrument rating, let's take a look at how much a simulator (Flight Training Device -FTD) time can be applied in each program. In a Part 61 flight school/curriculum, you will be able to apply up to 20 hours of Simulator time to your training requirement, while in a Part 141 will only allow up to 14 hours of Simulator time (FTD). Considering the fact that simulators are highly beneficial in Instrument training, I think utilizing that time as much as possible through a part 61 program will go a long way to help you prepare for that Instrument practical test and also save money as well.
For the commercial pilot training, ina part 61 school/curriculum you will need at least 250 hours of total flight time before your practical test. You can obtain 50 of these hours in a simulator to reduce the overall cost but the main advantage is it gives you the advantage of building time and gaining more flying experience and proficiency before your practical test. It will also make you a well-rounded pilot with better flying experiences. In a part 141 school/curriculum, you will need at least 120 hours in most cases to get through the commercial course. These hours are fairly low for the amount you will be paying for the entire program which in most cases is more than a part 61’s school fee for a similar certificate, also all your flights have to be to an approved airport in approved airplanes, no passengers, no fun, no flexibility.
In my personal opinion, the Part 61 rules seem to do a better job of preparing you to become a well-rounded pilot and it's also very flexible. Having said that, my journey personally as a pilot took me through a Part 141 program from the beginning to the end so I am in a well-placed position to say that a part 141 training can be rigorous and strict, it takes a lot of effort and dedication to keep up with the pace. The syllabus is very structured and you tend to finish with lower hours compared to people flying in a Part 61 school/curriculum therefore you run the risk of failing a few practical tests here and there before you’re actually well prepared to pass them. This failure(s) will show on your record which is not good for future employment references. Other than that, Part 141 schools usually have good flow through programs with airlines and in some cases, they incorporate university curriculums into their program which could be beneficial to people seeking to have an associateor bachelor’s degree. Some Part 61 schools offer these benefits too, the major difference is with a Part 141 school you get more options to choose from in general. Again, this is just my personal opinion.
I hope with these few points I made, I have been able to explain the meaning, advantages and disadvantages of Part 61 or Part 141 flight training and you should hopefully be able to make an informed decision in order to get the best out of your flight training journey and investment. I hope with these few points I made, I have been able to explain the meaning, advantages and disadvantages of Part 61 or Part 141 flight training and you should hopefully be able to make an informed decision in order to get the best out of your flight training journey and investment.