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part 61 vs 141...the scoop.

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A common point of confusion when getting into flight training is hearing these different "parts"pertaining to flight training.


First of all we need to define what a "part" is.


This starts with the "code of federal regulations" the code of federal regulations is broken down into 50 "titles."


including titles such as: "the president", "Agriculture", "Education", "National Defense", "Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights" etc.


number "14" is titled aeronautics and space.


in title 14 there are "parts" each part has a number there are parts 1-1399...we spend the majority of our time in parts 1-199.


but mainly we use part 1(definitions) part 27(certification of normal category rotorcraft) part 43 (maintenance) part 61(certification of pilots and crew members) part 91 (general operating rules) part 119(certification: air carriers and commercial operators) part 133(rotorcraft external load operations) part 135(commuter and on demand operations) part 136(commercial air tours) part 137(agricultural aircraft operations) and part

141(pilot schools)


On a basic level a certified flight instructor can own his/her own helicopter, and provided the helicopter meets some basic certification requirements and is up to date on its maintenance, he/she can train people for a private pilot rating, and commercial pilot ratings yes the CFI can also give ATP training and conduct biannual flight reviews train CFIs etc., but for the sake of this lets keep it as simple as we can.


With an additional instructor rating called a "certified flight instructor instrument" or better known as a CFII. He or She can also train people for an instrument rating.


now the reality of it is the majority of CFI's out there dont have the money to purchase a helicopter. So they will go to work for someone who can. this would be your flight school.


A flight school needs to meet a few requirements in order to operate the helicopters, but again for the sake of simplicity lets stick to our topic.

So on this basic level this would be referred to as a part 61 school.

so the students attending this flight school will be issued thier certificates under the requirements specified under part 61. many flight schools operate under this and can thrive. a certain well known flight school that recently went under is proof of this.


The "part 61" school can compose a training program outline known as a syllabus. There is usually one for each rating. after drafting the syllabus, they submit it to the FAA. After the FAA reviews the syllabus the FAA will issue a "Provisional 141 flight school certificate" most of the time it will be initially for private and instrument.

in the following two years the school needs to graduate 6 students(i need to double check that number) at an 80%pass rate. If they don't accomplish this for what ever reason they can file an extension.



operating a part 141 school is a major pain, they need to meet several requirements, like having on site study areas, a chief pilot, and sometimes assistant chief pilots both of which can be a hard thing to come by. The requirements are high: 500 hours for an assistant chief. 2000 hours for a chief pilot AND 1000 hours dual given. most CFI's are looking to cash out at 1000 hours, and for good reason, at 1000 hours the pay can double if not tripple in the right places. simply taking on an assistant chief job can, for at least part of the average day, the assistant chief pilot with administrative type work. So instead of flying they are dealing with the latest maintenance issue or devoting some time to a new project. Chief pilots are even harder to come by. the vast majority of instructors out there will only get 800 hours of dual given for a while. why? well 200 of that 1000 hours was in training. so even if the CFI gets bored with flying a turbine job and wants to come back to training, they need to give another 200 hours of training to fill the chief pilot job.


From an instructor standpoint working for a part 141 school is a major pain in the "you know what."

Paperwork: tickets, tags,grading tests, training folders need to be absolutely perfect. Then there are stage checks, and stage exams, (each rating is broken down into blocks, known as stages)

Private for example is most likely broken down into 3 stages: 1,2,3 stage 1 was basic flight manuvers, stage 2 was more advanced manuvers and ended with the first solo flights, stage 3 was cross country.

Once a stage of training is completed it has both an oral exam and a flight with a stage check instructor. and the student cannot continue on until they pass.

If you have a student struggling with something and they don't meet the standards for the lesson you need to request additional hours from the chief pilot.



So if a school can thrive on part 61 why bother with 141?

A flight school operating under part 141 can get some big time deals. First is through the VA.(veterans assistance) Uncle Sam promisses our good boys some cash for career training once they are done. they can use it to get schooling at certain approved places, a part 141 school can be one of those places. also the 141 school can get over seas training contracts and also accept students with student VISAs. They can also advertise that they are a 141 school even if it is on a provisional basis.


So from a student standpoint to be completely honest, the quality, budget and timeframe of your training comes down to your instructor, a well known and established flight school can have some rather crummy instructors. And likewise the tiny podunk flight school can have some supurb instructors. The culture the flight school creates can influence this, but at the end of the day there is a certain talent for flight instruction. and of course, the 141 school can have awesome instructors and the 61 school can have terrible instructors.


yeah but theres less hours in a 141 course right?


technically yes, 35 hours is the minimum for private under part 141... 40 hours is the minimum under 61. thats a 5 hour difference... Instrument requires 50 hours Pilot in command cross country under part 61. there is no cross country requirement under part 141. but most schools will roll your instrument training in the middle of your commerical training to make the most of your money with them.(cough cough...yes they can look out for the students budget, and they can advertise a lower price.)Regardless, commercial requires a ton of time in the aircraft anyway. So again it ends up not really mattering that much. and even though you can finish your commercial in less hours under part 141 there is still the SFAR 73 requirement for those flight training in Robinson aircraft which is the majority of people.


SFAR 73?

special federal aviation regulation number 73. in a nut shell, an instructor must have 200 hours total time before they can instruct in an R-22/R-44. which everyone likes. From a student standpoint every instructor must have this amount of experience, from a budget standpoint it allows a little bit of breathing room for a slightly slower learning curve.


Its about flight schools making money more than anything else. which is tough in all fairness, there is strong competition and the profit margins are dismal. The part 141 can give them a leg up in some extra student sources. They can advertise a highly stuctured program that prospective students are sold as the only way thier flight training can be done in anything close to an efficient manner. "It prevents just simply wasting time and money" kind of true, its an attempt anyway... A less than ethical instructor can pencil whip your training record into what ever she/he wants. The school and the FAA probably wont know the difference at least for a while. So a student at a 141 school can have a 100 hour private rating, it simply needs to be justified on paper.


A 141 school can also get something called internal designating authority, where they can internally issue pilot certificates without it going through the FAA. This can be nice if the local FAA inspector is busy and there are no contract pilot inspectors(designated pilot inspectors=DPE's) around, you can in theory get on the spot check rides right at your school. However, typically a school that big enough to have one usually has the checkride pilot pretty busy. So it has been my experience that there isn't any major time benefit, its just a lot more convenient.


So in conclusion it wont matter if you go to a part 61 school or a 141 if your just a regular guy off the street. What ultimately does matter is how much you are willing to dedicate to your training, and the quality of your instructor.

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One thing that can have an effect is that the syllabus for a 141 program generally needs to be done IN ORDER. So if the next thing on my list is a solo cross country, or a night flight, and those stinkin clouds move in and stay awhile, I can't fly. Can't practice the maneuvers, because that's not the next thing I'm scheduled to do, so I get rusty while I wait for the weather to break. :(


Aren't the maintenance/inspection requirements a bit more stringent for the 141 schools?



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§ 141.39 Aircraft.


An applicant for a pilot school certificate or provisional pilot school certificate must show that each aircraft used by that school for flight training and solo flights meets the following requirements:


(a) Each aircraft must be registered as a civil aircraft in the United States;


(B) Each aircraft must be certificated with a standard airworthiness certificate or a primary airworthiness certificate, unless the Administrator determines that due to the nature of the approved course, an aircraft not having a standard airworthiness certificate or primaryairworthiness certificate may be used;


© Each aircraft must be maintained and inspected in accordance with the requirements under subpart E of part 91 of this chapter that apply to aircraft operated for hire;


(d) Each aircraft used in flight training must have at least two pilot stations with engine-power controls that can be easily reached and operated in a normal manner from both pilot stations; and


(e) Each aircraft used in a course involving IFR en route operations and instrument approaches must be equipped and maintained for IFR operations. For training in the control and precision maneuvering of an aircraft by reference to instruments, the aircraft may be equipped as provided in the approved course of training.




subpart E of 91 covers maintenance of all US civil registered aircraft.



Maintenance even under 141 is your standard, manufacturer specified maintenance.

for R-22's

The A&P runs through a checklist of items specified in the maintenance manuals.

nothing extra or special....which is fine. Extra unnecessary maintenance drives up the hourly operating cost...


along the lines of your training there hovergirl, you are correct the lessons need to be done in order and it can be a challenge when things dont go your way.


with that being said, the dates in your records don't need to be. :-)

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141 you can't refuel the aircraft unless your signed off.


There is no restriction as such in Part 141. However, individual schools may include such restrictions in their programs.


For most students there is not major advantage to being under Part 141. The flight time requirements may be lower, however a major of students, especially in helicopters exceed these minimum requirements. There are required phase checks by the Chief Flight Instructor and a few schools do have the authority to issue certificates without using a DPE. In many areas, the strict adherance to the ciriculum may cause some delays due to aircraft availability or weather. Also flying outside the flight school doesn't count for the time requirements for the program the student is enrolled in.

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Speaking from a limited experience standpoint; Of the 5 Part 61 schools and the 2 Part 141 schools that I've seen, the part 141 schools have been more professional looking in the appearance of the staff, the premises and the aircraft they've operated(by a long shot). I know some of you will say that appearance isn't everything(silver state for example) but in the business world, "if you wanna be successful you better dress successful" so to speak. What I think I'm trying to say is, that the setup(dedicated study areas etc..) and atmosphere in the 141 schools seem more conducive to better learning. It's in our FOI's, the more professional looking the Instructors image is the more respect he will gain from his students, i think this is true for the schools also.


Also, I believe the stage check structure in 141 schools is a great help to the students primary instructor, as they are constantly getting feedback and advice from more experienced instructors which can only enhance the quality of instruction given. It also prepares the students better for check rides.


1 last plus for 141!! It can only be a good thing for any instructor to come away from a 141 school with "141 stage check examiner" or better yet "141 end of course examiner" typed on their resume. And it's normally students of the 141 school that ends up working there anyway.


The last paragraph is the most times I've ever typed "141" in 1 sentence!!

Edited by Darren Hughes
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I believe the important things to look for, after reading this thread, have nothing whatever to do with 141 vs. 61.


I would look for a part 61 school or training set up. Just as many good instructors in this area as any other and more flexibility, as the helicopter is going to be more sensitive to weather (heat and wind for students). I would look for compliance with as many of the 141 requirements being met as possible, minus the administrative garbage. More time spent on administrivia = less time spent with the student. I would also look at the little things: Does the place tack on .2 hrs of instructor time for each dual flight? (I got tired of paying this and not getting the pre/de-brief. Supposedly, the .2 was to cover this time and preflight. I dispatched the flight, preflighted the aircraft and was waiting on the instructor. When we landed, the instructor could be found in the smoking area...not good.) Is the airport/heliport so busy as to distract from training? (Busy is good...after you have the flying skill. Struggling with radios and learning the flying at the same time stinks. I find uncontrolled fields to be more of a challenge at times, so take it with a grain.) Do you spend more than .1 hours of hobbs time waiting for clearances/other traffic? Is the airspace safe? How far are the pinnacle/confined/airwork areas? Will you get some high density altitude exposure? Do the instructors bathe regularly? Are the instructors hero wannabes with egos, in military uniforms or are they regular folks? Are the instructors able to maintain authoritative roles while still respecting their clients? Will the school be offended if you get a second opinion from another school/instructor? (If they throw a fit or get defensive, it may be time to leave.) Will the school be honest with you if you do not have the aptitude? Does the school monitor instructors adequately to protect students from predatory instructors?


141 certification may or may not protect students, but you pay for that certification either way. A 141 certificate is only as good as the day it was awarded and the statistics provided to the FAA. A 141 school will report unsuccessful students as drops, not counting against their record, especially if they use in-house examiners.


Students/customers protecting themselves is by far the best way to avoid problems. Keep your own training record, whether the school keeps one or not. Keep a journal of everything said in pre/de-brief and ground training. Keep a record/copy of all communications with the school. Follow-up conversations (in-person and telephone) with emails if possible. If they do not do email I would consider another school, as this is now a business standard.


Look for number of PPL Vs. people who have started with them. Look for number of Instrument Ratings Vs. people who have started with them. Look for number of CPL Vs. people who have started with them. Look for number of CFI Vs. people who have started with them. Count the number of students that have dropped. The school will drop those stats...They dropped for a reason, after having the desire...is the school a dream killer, bad business, etc.


The pilot training system (fixed and rotor) in America is rapidly deteriorating and it makes no difference whether they are a "certified" school or not. Consumers are their own best defense.

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For most students there is not major advantage to being under Part 141. The flight time requirements may be lower, however a major of students, especially in helicopters exceed these minimum requirements. There are required phase checks by the Chief Flight Instructor and a few schools do have the authority to issue certificates without using a DPE. In many areas, the strict adherance to the ciriculum may cause some delays due to aircraft availability or weather. Also flying outside the flight school doesn't count for the time requirements for the program the student is enrolled in.


I did my PPL under Part 61 and am doing my Instrument under Part 141. So far, I am really liking the Part 141 for Instruments:


-I got handed a TCO on my first day along with some other documentation and a really good briefing on what to expect for the entire course.

-I get a very thorough pre and post flight debrief and it is documented. I find this useful, especially as Instrument training is a lot about learning procedures.

-I like the stage checks. Reiteration helps me learn and retain.

-So far, everything being in sequence has worked to my advantage as we keep building on prior knowledge. The few times we have had bad weather we just kept on going with ground and then made the flight time up later. I think having a set syllabus makes this easier to accomplish.


Bottom line though - I agree with some of the other comments in this thread - I think the instructor is key to the success of the student (along with the student being motivated). I also think that everyone learns differently and has different (life) restrictions and that a student can be successful with either Part 61 or Part 141.

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