Part 61 flight schools are not subject to the regulations and fees intended for “private vocational programs,” the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education decided at a meeting Aug. 26.
The board considered reinterpreting current Arizona law in a way that would classify Part 61 flight schools as vocational schools, making them subject to regulatory requirements and fees similar to those in a controversial new California law. It decided that Part 61 schools do not generally meet the definition of a vocational program, and voted unanimously to take no additional formal action on the issue.
AOPA Western Regional Representative Stacy Howard testified about the potential effects of adopting a new interpretation of the law and argued that there is no clear applicability of state law to Part 61 flight training. Part 141 schools are explicitly exempted from the regulations in question, and Part 61 schools have always been considered exempt as well.
“The misapplication of this law could have done more harm than good and would have had a negative effect on the availability and affordability of flight training in Arizona,” said AOPA Vice President of Airports and State Advocacy Greg Pecoraro. “We appreciate careful deliberation of the board and its thoughtful decision on this matter.”
As with the California law, the Arizona proposal was intended to protect the financial wellbeing of students. But AOPA explained that it could result in the same unintended consequences: saddling upstanding flight schools with a financial burden that may be insurmountable for some.