Do Online Ground Schools Need FAA Approval?

Online ground schools offer unique advantages for students looking to become helicopter pilots. In addition to flexible scheduling and virtual access to course materials, online courses typically cost less than traditional in-person ground school options. There are benefits and drawbacks to both, which is why it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each to choose the ground school course that’s right for you.

A common question we hear is whether online ground school courses require Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval. While each school has its own set of standards and regulations, neither online ground schools nor in-person ground schools actually need FAA approval to administer training courses.

Ground School Isn’t Required, but Endorsement From a Certified Flight Instructor Is!

Because they aren’t required for pilot certification, the FAA doesn’t approve ground school courses, whether online or in person.

While helicopter ground schools provide a foundational understanding of the world of piloting, and prepare you to pass the FAA knowledge and oral exams, ground school is not technically required. However, in order to take the exams, students do need an endorsement from a certified flight instructor. The best way to demonstrate your knowledge of flying and receive an endorsement is by completing ground school courses and practice exams. Confusing—we know!

There Are Two Types of Flight Schools: Part 61 and Part 141

The FAA allows flight schools to operate under either Part 61 or Part 141 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR). Both sets of regulations focus on a school’s authority to train pilots and define minimum requirements for pilot training and certification. Flight training programs that operate under Part 61 regulations allow any FAA-approved flight instructor to train a student—whether it’s through a recognized flight school or not.

The Pros and Cons of Part 61 Flight Schools

Training programs that follow Part 61 regulations often offer students a more flexible schedule than Part 141 schools. The training program utilized is customized to the students’ needs, but this flexibility often comes at a high price tag. There are minimum requirements for both private and commercial pilots licenses that are slightly higher than those of a Part 141 flight school. To obtain a private pilot license (PPL), students must complete a minimum of 40 hours of training. For a commercial pilot license (CPL), the minimum hourly requirement is 150.

The Pros and Cons of Part 141 Flight Schools

Part 141 schools are FAA-approved schools that permit instructors to train students to become pilots. In order for a flight school to be approved under Part 141, the school must meet certain requirements and submit curriculum to be reviewed by the FAA. Flight schools that operate under Part 141 are subject to oversight and audits by the FAA and students must meet minimum pass rates on the oral and knowledge exams. 

Offering a more structured training curriculum and timetable, Part 141 flight schools are often the most cost effective for full-time students. These schools have lower hourly requirements for PPL and CPL, clocking at 35 hours and 115 hours respectively. The lower hourly requirements are a result of the rigorous approval process and regular audits by the FAA.

Why Choose an FAA-Reviewed Ground School?

Ground school is an investment in your future as a pilot. Choosing the right course is the first step on your path to success.

Independent Helicopters offers comprehensive online ground school courses that prepare you for your career as a pilot. Even though the FAA doesn’t formally offer approval for ground schools, our online ground school has been reviewed by the FAA. We operate as a Part 141 flight school, which means that all course materials follow the FAA’s curriculum for the aeronautical knowledge you’ll need to pass the FAA’s exams and start your career as a helicopter pilot with a strong foundation.

Our ground school curriculum was created by Independent Helicopters Founder Heather Howley, the only female helicopter DPE in the Northeast region. Students who choose to pursue their pilot’s license through Independent Helicopters will gain access to the knowledge of Heather and other experienced instructors with 24/7 online support to prepare for the FAA’s knowledge and oral exams.

We have combined multiple resources and decades of experience into one, easy-to-use program that closely follows the FAA curriculum. Our students gain access to an interactive table of contents that allows them to move freely throughout each lesson of the course and study at their own pace. Pick up where you left off, or review sections as often as you need.

Throughout the course, students will discover state-of-the-art graphics and images to show the various components of the helicopter and quizzes that feature multiple layouts—unlike other courses that only offer multiple choice questions to test your knowledge. Our course also includes access to supplemental resources, flashcards, and study aids.

Our online ground school course was designed to provide students with the tools and resources to successfully receive their pilot’s license. After the course, you’ll be one step closer to the skies!

FAA reviewed online ground schools
Take the first step towards your career as a pilot with Independent Helicopter’s FAA-reviewed online ground school courses.

Embark on your journey to becoming a private pilot with Independent Helicopter’s FAA-reviewed online ground school courses. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date on our schedule of events, learn more about helicopter flight training, or schedule your own private adventure.