Part 61 vs Part 141 Training
Flight training under Part 61 vs Part 141 can be a confusing subject. Many people associate ‘Approved Course’ with ‘Quality Training’, which may or may not be the case. It is important to understand that Part 61 and 141 refer to federal regulations that specify training requirements and not necessarily how well the training is conducted.
Generally speaking, flight training under Part 61 is very flexible and tailored to you by your flight instructor. Federal regulations require certain subjects be taught (same as 141) but it is up to the instructor to determine what is to be completed within each lesson and how the topics are presented. The instructor may use a commercial syllabus or develop a plan as you go. No oversight is required but many flight schools may optionally implement 141 elements such as stage checks to ensure thoroughness and quality.
Part 141 is a flight school certification and has significantly more FAA oversight. To obtain Part 141 approval, the flight school must submit detailed course descriptions to the FAA including exactly what is to be covered each lesson, how the individual elements are taught and completion standards. The flight school must have an approved facility, aircraft, management, policies and procedures. Teaching methods are standardized to ensure quality control and consistency among students and staff. Because a 141 program has this FAA oversight the requirements to complete a training course is reduced. For example, private pilot applicants can complete training in 35 instead of 40 hours. Instrument applicants do not need the 50 hours of PIC cross-country time as you do under Part 61.
Which is better?
Does this mean training under Part 141 is better than 61? Not necessarily. A flight instructor operating under Part 61 could provide some of the best training in the industry. Part 141 approval simply means the school applied for this designation and the FAA found that the facilities, aircraft and courses meet established guidelines.
Rainier Flight Programs
At Rainier Flight Service, our training is conducted under both Part 61 and 141 for most courses, but we conduct all training to Part 141 standards. We developed our industry-leading custom curriculum to exceed Part 141 minimum standards because we believe in the importance of standardization, clear objectives/completion standards and thorough policies and procedures. However, we also understand that everyone learns differently and tailor lessons to each individual's needs, which sometimes does not fit within the rigid Part 141 structure. Lastly, the aviation environment today is dramatically different than when Part 141 regulations were written over 40 years ago. We train and fly in a far more complex environment than when these regulations were conceived. The average training time reflects the reality that students need the flight experience anyway and reduced hourly requirements are rarely applicable.