American Winds trains tomorrow’s pilots today. Our sole focus is to train individuals to have a career in aviation as a professional pilot, whether they fly for the airlines or in general aviation. There are two entities who influence American Winds on how we present information about our institution: the aviation and academic world.
Aviation world – FAA
The Department of Transportation has authorized the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to set federal regulations, guidelines, policies, procedures, etc. for aviation within the United States. American Winds is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration. This government agency dictates the terms and definitions used, teaching methodology, curriculum, publishes educational materials, and sets standards by which flight schools must operate by and students must train by.
As designed by the FAA, a flight school is an integral part of aviation and the airport, providing a variety of services and functions. Federal law states that if an airport would like to receive federal grant money from the FAA, they must have a flight school on the premise. American Winds serves the local aviation community through free educational literature provided by the FAA (located at the Information Center within the school), free educational seminars for the public, re-currency training for pilots, and a pilot shop. The flight school is an authorized testing center administering FAA Knowledge Exams to current and future pilots attracting a radius of approx. 150 miles. The flight school also provides training for individuals who want to get their pilot certification to fly around for fun renting the airplanes they trained in. In addition, a flight school trains individuals who wishing to have a career as a professional pilot (airline, corporate, or general aviation world).
An individual may sign up for three categories of training (courses):
- FAA Certifications: ground – academic knowledge (ground lessons) and flight – acquiring flight skills (flight lessons)
- Aviation academic (traditional classroom setting)
- General Educational (traditional classroom setting)
In aviation, the focus is on students acquiring academic knowledge and flight skills to achieve their goals for FAA compliance (as well as currency/ recurrence) and/or a certification or rating. The FAA describes and lists these requirements for a pilot certificate and rating in the Code of Federal Regulations published in the Federal Register. Two things must be accomplished to obtain a pilot certificate:
- After receiving the required academic ground training, the student will receive an endorsement from an authorized FAA instructor to take the FAA Knowledge Exam. Flight training may begin after the student receives enough academic knowledge to feel comfortable in the airplane to fly
- At the conclusion of all ground and flight training, the student will receive an endorsement from an authorized FAA flight instructor to apply for a Practical Exam or Checkride. A Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) who has been given the authority by the FAA will issue the exam. Upon completion of demonstrating the required skills, the student will receive a temporary FAA pilot certificate(s) and/or rating(s) from the DPE. The FAA will complete required paperwork, assign a certificate number, issue a pilot certificate and mail the plastic certificate to the individual from the home office of the FAA in Oklahoma City, OK.
American Winds provides the environment (FAA approved flight school, administrative office, classrooms, airplanes, faculty and instructors) for students to receive the required academic, ground and flight training from an FAA authorized instructor to endorse a student’s log book to be authorized to take the FAA Knowledge Exam or the FAA Practical Exam or Checkride. Upon completion of demonstrating the required skills, the student will receive a FAA pilot certificate(s) and/or rating(s) from the DPE. The FAA pilot’s certificate or rating is issued under the authority of the FAA, not American Winds. American Winds will issue a “certificate” attesting a student has completed a program which is a series of courses. This certificate will not allow a student to take the FAA Knowledge Exam or the FAA Practical Exam to become a certificated pilot.
Accrediting Agencies and Academic Side – SOBCCS and ACCET
American Winds is licensed by the State of Ohio Board of Career Colleges and Schools (SOBCC) and accredited by Accrediting Council of Continued Education and Training (ACCET). The academic industry uses different language and terms than aviation. Academia’s four favorite words are course, program, certificate and diploma (degree). There is one word which is used by the FAA and academia. The word is certificate, and there is a difference in meaning to both parties. American Winds is required by law and will always use the language defined by the FAA, as a Part 141 approved flight school. (Example: pilot certificate) AW will always try to use additional words to reconcile understanding between the accrediting agencies toward aviation and the FAA.
According to accreditation rules, a group of lessons for academic, ground and flight training is called a course. A program consists of a grouping of courses. American Winds has two types of programs: degree (diploma) and non-degree (certificate). Each program will be assigned a name and an objective targeting a specific group of individuals. American Winds has five programs. The programs target five groups of individuals: associate degree (zero flight experience), rotary transition (helicopter pilots), instructor pilot (previous training), commercial pilot (zero flight experience/ no degree) or personnel working in aviation business (private pilot/ nonflying job).
As previously stated, federal regulations dictate individuals may receive training (ground and/or flight) at a flight school. American Winds is a FAA flight school first! Our goal is to be a warm and inviting place where people can come for education and support. Students may sign up for a course or enroll in a program. They must select one or the other.
According to the accrediting agencies, upon completion of a course (academic, ground or flight), a student will receive a graduation certificate in other words a certificate of completion from American Winds. This certificate issued by American Winds has no significant value or meaning to the FAA. If a student completed a course operating under Part 141 regulations, the student will be issued an approved document according to the syllabus to demonstrate completion. In other words, students use American Winds to gain academic, ground and flight knowledge/ skills through courses. The value to the student is not in completing the course to receive a graduation certificate or certificate of completion from American Winds but to receive the required FAA training to be able to obtain a pilot certificate from the authorized FAA Designated Pilot Examiner after successfully passing a Practical Test or Checkride. The FAA authorizes DPE’s to issue pilots’ certificates or ratings upon completion of a Practical Test or checkride as defined in federal regulations.
Students who complete the designated associate degree program(s) will be issued a diploma from American Winds. This diploma has value as an Associate Degree of Applied Science. This very important diploma also allows American Winds to issue a second, special FAA approved Restricted ATP (r-ATP) certificate. The R-ATP certificate may be obtained from only approximately 100 higher education institutions in the United States. The FAA has approved the graduates of the programs in these schools to be exempt from the federal airline hiring requirements. This will allow graduates to be issued an Airline Transport Pilot certificate and potentially hired by the airlines at 1,250 flight hours in lieu of mandated 1,500 flight hours.
The Federal Aviation Administration calls individuals with the authorization to fly an aircraft (airplane, helicopter, etc.) in approved airspace, pilot certificates. Additional privileges are called ratings. Pilot certificates and ratings are issued by the FAA only. A flight school (American Winds) does not have the authority to issue pilot certificates. The FAA can give authorization to an individual or entities to act upon behalf of the FAA to issue pilot certificates. Example: Designated Pilot Examiners (DPE’s). However, American Wind has not been granted such authority. American Winds issues certificates of completion or graduation certificates for a course or program. American Winds certificates are NOT pilot certificates. As previously stated, this is where the academic world uses the word “certificate” in a different meaning than the FAA. The accrediting bodies assume when American Winds issues a certificate it gives the student authority to exercise pilot privileges. However, it only shows students received the required training for an authorized FAA instructor to endorse a student’s logbook. In world of aviation, it is the FAA who holds the power and authority not the flight school. Hence, the two meanings of the word “certificate.”