Starting a Flight School Business
Learning to fly can be one of life's most rewarding adventures. The freedom of moving in three dimensions is not only fun but can lead to interesting career and travel opportunities. Considering the fact that private airlines are on the rise, a flight school business can be a very lucrative business proposition.
Many flight schools are for sale every now and then; buying one could be a safe bet than starting one on your own as the former have already taken off. Consider this while starting your flight school business.
At the beginning it helps if you have a general idea of what people want from flight schools. Why do they want to learn to fly? What is their ultimate, long-term aviation goal? Do they want to fly for fun, or are they seeking a flying career? Will your flight training be local, or do you want to use general aviation aircraft to train pupils? Do you want to own an airplane or will you rent? These are questions you should answer before you start considering starting flight schools. And you should consider whether you'll train students full time or part time.
Flight schools come in two flavors, Part 61 and Part 141, which refer to the parts of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) under which they operate. The most common and least important distinction between them is the minimum flight time required for the private certificate — 40 hours under Part 61, and 35 hours under Part 141. Considering that the national average for earning a private certificate is 60-75 hours, this difference isn't important for initial training. It does make a difference to commercial pilot applicants: Part 61 requires 250 hours, and Part 141 requires 190.
Accredited schools must meet rigid standards of accountability for virtually every area of operation and must apply to an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
Ground School ensures the academic knowledge required to understand how, where, and when to fly safely. Flight schools cater to instructor based classes or self-paced home-study audio/video programs.
After ground school and before the trainee can take the FAA check ride with a designated pilot examiner, he must take and pass (70 percent or better) FAA airman knowledge test at an approved computer testing site.
The training airplane is where students practice in the air what they have learned on the ground. High wing or low, it doesn't make much difference. What's important is how well the airplane is equipped and maintained. It's also important that the school's trainers are dedicated to training and not to rental.
Generally speaking, one trainer serves four or five full-time students. This ratio may be higher with part-time students. Another consideration is the fleet's mix of primary, advanced, and multiengine trainers.
Because trainers are flown often and sometimes hard, how a school maintains its training fleet is important for both safety and scheduling.
A good flight instructor is important because one’s life will depend on what he or she teaches. The primary instructor should be at least a certificated flight instructor (CFI) and the instrument instructor must have an instrument instructor rating (CFII). Instrument training received from a non-rated instructor can cause problems when it comes to meeting FAA requirements.
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