Flight school accreditation program
On August 22, 2011, FSANA launched the first flight school accreditation program in the history of flight training. The purpose of flight school accreditation is to maintain the highest standard for flight schools with respect to industry business practices and professionalism. For the first time in the history of flight training, flight schools are able to determine if their business model meets a set of minimum standards developed by their peers.
Flight school accreditation also gives the general public the ability to identify flight schools which comply with the FSANA Code of Ethics
and meet or exceed the accreditation standards established by FSANA in conjunction with the United States Department of Education.
The program is built on seven core business strategies: safety, security, risk management, business practices, finance and accounting, education, and customer satisfaction.
The FSANA Accreditation Committee, consisting of FSANA member flight school owners and operators, along with a variety of industry partners, are responsible for the drafting of the accreditation program.
FSANA continues to put the final pieces in place for the soon to be released flight school accreditation standards. The United States Department of Education (USDE) rolled out updated regulations regarding accreditation that became effective July 1, 2020.
FSANA looks forward to reopening the accreditation program very soon. Flight schools that enroll in the updated program and complete the accreditation process will be defined as pre-accredited in accordance with the USDE.
Concurrently, FSANA will continue forward with the creation of a new entity designed to focus solely on accreditation. There will be a separate board of directors established as part of the process. FSANA estimates that the final process to become recognized by the USDE will take an additional 12-18 months.
Flight schools that become pre-accredited will be the first schools to be able to onboard students who have borrowed money under the USDE Title IV loan and/or grants program.
The pre-accredited schools will be first in line when the new accrediting body is recogfnized by the USDE.
Flight schools that wait to enter the accreditation program will be placed in line based on a first-in, first-out basis. Some schools may have to wait up to 36-48 months before they can complete the full accreditation process which includes site visits by accreditation inspectors.
To apply for accreditation or to view the official accreditation documents, jump to the end of this article for downloadable resources.
The overriding purpose of accreditation is to maintain the highest standard for flight schools in respect to industry business practices and professionalism.
FSANA accreditation is the recognized standard that the public and flight training vendor community can use to assist in evaluating business relationships.
Accreditation helps flight schools to develop sound academic, business and financial practices which lead to improved student learning, retention and completion.
Ongoing accreditation generates an aggregated positive impact for both flight schools and the public. The process of accreditation is an ongoing and developing system of standards and best practices that lead to continued improvement.
Anatomy of flight school accreditation
- The Flight School Accreditation Standards are high and flight schools are not automatically guaranteed to receive accreditation. The standards are designed to focus on seven core areas within the flight school:
Finance and Accounting
- Inspections — The flight school accreditation process includes an on-site inspection of an accreditation applicant’s facility to determine if the applicant meets all of the accreditation standards. The accreditation inspector’s report will be utilized to determine if the applicant is prepared to attend an accreditation hearing.
It is a known fact that accreditation programs which require site visitations are held to a higher standard. Being in the presence of a flight school operator provides real-time knowledge and observation which cannot be duplicated in any other form.
Accreditation inspectors are volunteers who provide their time and expertise.
- The Flight School Accreditation Commission is the accreditation body that oversees the Flight School Accreditation Program. Once the inspection has been completed and the inspection report has been filed, it is up to the commission to review and determine if the applicant is ready for the accreditation hearing. The decision to approve, deny or table an applicant is the responsibility of the commission.
Scope and standards
The FSANA accreditation process is open to all flight schools that provide flight instruction under the Federal Aviation Regulations. The standards for FSANA accreditation provide the starting benchmarks from which all entities shall be evaluated.
- Flight schools that enroll in the Flight School Accreditation Program are electing to improve the professional nature of their businesses and the flight training industry.
- The standards for accreditation represent the core foundation guidelines that must be met in order to become an accredited flight school. Once a flight school becomes accredited, the firm shall submit all required reports on an annual basis in order to maintain their accredited member status.
- Accredited flight schools become eligible to participate in various business management programs that may include the opportunity for flight students to secure flight training loans.
- Accredited flight schools have the ability to benchmark themselves with their professional peers.
- The accreditation standards establish a minimum level of compliance that are nationally recognized. Flight schools shall meet or exceed the standards at all times.
- Safety forms the foundation for all flight schools. Flight schools shall place safety as the highest priority when conducting all functions related to the flight training industry.
Benefits for the flight school
Accreditation has many positive results for the flight school, including to:
- Develop public confidence through a systemic evaluation process that confirms whether an organization meets or exceeds the professional standards as established by the accrediting organization.
- Provide answers to government and private agencies that seek professional opinions on a wide assortment of topics related to the industry segment.
- Help attract and retain a quality professional staff.
- Increase the opportunity to attract financial-aid organizations who seek to assist flight students in the attainment of their personal goals and objectives.
- Provide the risk management industry with the ability to provide competitive rate-making for accredited organizations.
- Provide a friendly environment for organizations to work and develop together in the name of flight training.
- Promote public recognition of flight schools that have attained accreditation status.
- Promulgate an ongoing self-evaluation within the accredited flight school for the betterment of the school and their students.
- Increase the opportunity for flight schools to establish long-term and stable relationships with financial institutions that provide loan and lease programs for the flight school market.
Flight schools that seek accreditation shall submit a complete application as part of the accreditation process. At the time of application, the school must have been training students continuously for the preceding two consecutive years and demonstrate that it will operate continuously thereafter.
Flight schools that seek to become accredited must adhere to the FSANA Code of Ethics
and operate with full intent of following business practices that are in the best interest of the public, the employees and the school.
Cost of accreditation
The cost of accreditation is currently under review and an updated pricing schedule will be available in 2021 when application acceptance reopens.
Applicant shall remit at time of application a down payment which is nonrefundable. Upon notification by the Commission that the applicant has successfully completed the application and questionnaire, the applicant can then request the flight school site inspection. At that time, the applicant shall remit the balance.
Schools which own and operate multiple locations are eligible to apply for accreditation under one application. If it is determined that a multi-site inspection is required, the applicant shall provide a multi-site inspection fee as determined by the Commission.
Application and resources
The following applications and guides are under revision and will not be available until 2021. Flight School Accreditation Guide 2021 [.pdf]
Accreditation Standards 2021 [.pdf]
Accreditation Application 2021 [.doc]
Accreditation Inspector Guide 2021 [.pdf]
Accreditation Inspector Application 2021 [.doc]