Part 141 verses Part 61, what is the real difference?
Contrary to what some people will tell you, like the large school in Titusville, Florida who states that a part 61 school is not a school at all, is WRONG and are making an ignorant statement. A Part 141 school is structured according to the requirements of FAR Part 141, and has direct oversight of the FAA on a sort of regular basis. A Part 61 school is structured by the people operating the school and has the same oversight as any other aviation company conducting operations under Part 61 or 91. Both Part 141 and Part 61 schools have exactly the same maintenance intervals, exactly the same tests, exactly the same certificates are issued, and in both cases are taught by instructors with exactly the same qualifications.
There are few differences that a student will notice between the two types of schools, but one obvious difference is that a Part 141 school is required to have dedicated rooms for some things whereas a Part 61 school can use available space at an airport or other location of their choosing. Another thing that a student might find noticable is that a Part 141 school qualifies for student financing whereas a Part 61 school does not. This is not necessarily good for the student, and is exactly what has permitted some of the biggest scams that have ever occured in education where thousands of students have lost their money with little or no training at all. Things don't get automatically better just because the government has involvement, quite the contrary, it usually gets worse.
A Part 141 school has close oversight by the FAA in a couple of areas which are not visible to the student. The first is record keeping; the FAA visits the school on a more regular basis and also reviews the training programs whereas at a Part 61 school, the FAA visits whenever they are conveniently in the area. Both have to show what the FAA asks to see. The second area where the FAA is more closely involved is in the maintenance records which they review usually whenever they do their normal inspections, whereas at a Part 61 school, they only reveiw those records again, whenever they are conveniently in the area and choose to do so.
One of the other big differences between Part 141 schools and Part 61 schools is that the large Part 141 schools commonly have a DPE on staff. These DPEs commonly also conduct Part 61 practical tests for others, but I would avoid them like the Black Plague because many times they conduct their practical tests with great prejudice. DPEs must have a failure rate, and just where do you think they are going to apply that? I have witnessed wrongdoing in this regard several times. There are many good independant DPEs out there who always conduct a fair Practical test, use one of them. END.