Training under Part 61 vs. Part 141 – what’s the difference?

There are two different sections of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Aviation governing flight training, Part 61 and Part 141. Both set specific requirements and steps for pilots to earn certificates and ratings, but each part has different procedures. Deciding which regulation to train under may be confusing and overwhelming at first, but don’t let it scare you. Either way, you will be able to earn a certificate or rating. And it may be up to the flight school as not all schools meet the requirements or possess the Part 141 authorization.

Part 61 has far fewer regulations dictating the training process than Part 141. It tends to be a better environment for someone who doesn’t fly nearly as much, as it allows for much more flexibility throughout the course. Part 61 does not have any special requirements of the flight school’s syllabus nor does it even require one, but quality schools will have some structure to the training. 

Part 61 training allows students to complete the majority of their ground training from home through books or online learning systems. The student and instructor are working toward the minimum experience required as well as meeting the certification standards on maneuvers and ground knowledge. Once the student and instructor feel the student meets the standards set forth by the regulations, the student will be endorsed for a checkride with a designated pilot examiner (DPE). 

Part 141 places more oversight on the flight school itself. The school must have an FAA-approved syllabus which includes stage checks (intermediate assessments); approved airplanes; maintain a minimum an 80% checkride passage rate; are subject to FAA inspections; must have a management structure, and more. Students must complete every lesson in a syllabus in sequence. As a result of the Part 141 structure, it allows for a lower minimum experience requirement over Part 61 in all training programs, so it’s typically preferred for career path flight students. For a school to be approved for Veteran’s benefits or to sponsor a VISA for international customers, the school must be approved under Part 141. 

Another benefit to the Part 141 environment is that it also provides an option for qualified schools to earn examining authority. This means that at the end of your training, you are not required to do a checkride with an outside designated pilot examiner, likely saving thousands of dollars in additional expense.

It’s important to note that Part 141 vs. Part 61 does not mean better or worse. Even if not certified under Part 141, a flight school may choose to abide by all the same structure as a Part 141 school. In other words, do your research, talk to current or former students and make a decision that feels right for you.

2 replies
  1. Rwyerosk says:

    141 basically reduces flight time requirements to get certificates and ratings.

    FAA over site and a management structure costs a lot of money and the 80% pass rate can be a problem.

    One point is 141 requires everything to be be done is a regimented sequence and that includes the solo portion. Many accidents have occurred when inexperienced students are soled at a specific time. Damage to the aircraft and insurance issues are just a small part of solo in a world that sues and asks questions later.

    Liability is high for the instructor and the school. I personally do not teach under 141. I also solo a student after extensive training including cross country requirements and
    Emergency procedure. Solo is the last part of the the certificate….

    So when a student takes a $100,000-$200,000 aircraft solo fro the first time the outcome is as safe as it can be!

    There are too many stories over the years of 10-15 hour student solo crashes and even fatal accidents because of inexperience.

    I will say that I have been an instructor for over 50 years and never had a student have an accident.

    Why take such a risk with low time solo?

  2. Dick says:

    I was a classic rusty pilot (over twenty years out of the cockpit) when I went to get a new rating several years ago. So much had changed, especially regulations. I went to a 141 school and for someone like me, it was the best way to go. The structure of the syllabus, the phase checks by a different instructor, and the new content got me up to speed and I passed my check ride the first time.

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