FAR 61 vs. FAR 141: Which is better?
One of the most confusing questions that a potential student may have centers on the type of flight training to undertake. In fact, chances are good that if you're reading this now, you've probably heard plenty of references to my mystical "Part 61" and "Part 41", and you've probably even heard that "Part 141" is the better alternative, right? Well, not necessarily.
As with everythign else, we first need to understand the basic differences between each governing regulation. When a flight training facility refers to its training program as being Part 61 or Part 141, it is referring to the federal regulations under which it is authorized to train pilots. The difference, very simply, is that FAR Part 61 defines
what training has to be accomplished in order to meet the requirements for certification of pilots, while FAR Part 141 goes a step further and regulates
how that training must be accomplished.
The straight dope on Part 141
Training under FAR Part 141 regulations is limited to
only those instructors associated with an FAA-approved flight training facility. In order to become approved, a facility must submit each curriculum it wishes to have approved to the FAA for review. They are also required to meet certain requirements such as maintaining minimum pass rates on the practical exams. These approved facilities are subject to regular surveillance audits by the FAA to ensure that the curriculum, syllabus, facilities, instructors, required management personnel, and dispatch procedures all meet strict FAA guidelines and certification standards. All course content, as well as specific hour allottment for each subject, is closely monitored. Progress stage checks are administered at intervals to ensure quality control over the instruction and student progress. Because of the considerable involvement of the FAA and tight/strict organization and management, the FAA allows an hour reduction in required flight time to students completing FAR 141 Training. Even though less total hours are required under FAR 141, the student performance must still meet the defined practical standards, and in most cases, students will likely require additional training hours beyond the minimum in order to be proficient.
Part 61 De-mystified
On the other hand, FAR Part 61 is considerably more flexible because there is little FAA oversight involved in the training process. Unfortunately, this can be good or bad for the student depending on which flight school or instructor is conducting the training: good, because training can be tailored to the individual student; and bad because many operators utilizing FAR Part 61 for training are disorganized and have few performance checks and standards in place for the student. Because of this potential, the regulation requires a small increase in required hours to complete certification. Even with the higher minimum, there is still no guarantee the student will meet the performance standards.
Decide what's right for you!
Ultimately, each training system can be considered good or bad, depending on the operator's integrity and defined processes for administering training. Great care and adequate research should be expended in choosing which flight school to attend. Ultimately, your decision on where to train should not be made solely on the basis of which regulation to train under, but should instead take into cosideration where you'll get the best value for your dollar. In the end, the goal should be to be able to operate the airplane safely with Confidence, Comfort and Competence - the three most important C's in aviation.
What system is used at Aviator Flight Services?
Aviator Flight Services chooses to operate under FAR 61 specifically because of the flexibility it affords in student directed training. This allows us to modify our training at any time based on student need. All instructors are able to evaluate and adjust training as student performance dictates, so long as the basic knowledge and flight training times are met. For example, we do not have to practice "steep turn" maneuvers in several lessons if the student has obviously shown proficiency early on in his training. Instead, we can dedicate that time to a different skill or maneuver with which the student may be having more difficulty. This brings the students' performance level to the three C's quicker and with more of each component.
Technology and People
Every program, whether Part 61 or 141, needs structure and organization in oprder to succeed. Aviator Flight Services utilizes technology to monitor the training conducted as well as training outcomes on a daily basis. Extremely functional performance tracking and instructor narratives provide follow-through throughout the training process. This means your instructor knows exactly what you've been able to accomplish and what is planned for the next training session prior to your arrival. As instructor changes occur (as they do in any flight training program) you can be assured your your flights will be organized in advance and positive performance will be attained. If proficiency is not reached on a particular maneuver, it will automatically be included in your subsequent training lesson plans until mastery is Achieved. In the end, you will better prepared for any checkride.
AFS builds core skills: these skills will prove to be your "ace in the hole" for any additional aircraft type you intend to master.