Flight Technology FAQs


Q. I want to get my Private Pilot certificate or Instrument Rating?

If you aren’t looking for a career in aviation, SCC can help you with the required ground training for your Private Pilot and Instrument ratings.

Private Pilot ground school is offered in two different sections in the Fall.  Pick the one that works with your schedule.  No prerequisites are required, but you will have to contact the instructor for a permission number to register.

Instrument ground school is offered in the Spring.  Unless you’re enrolled in the program, you’ll need to have a Private Pilot certificate to receive a permission number from the instructor.

Q. How do I get into the program?

To enter the core aviation program, you must successfully complete one of the prerequisite classes; FLTEC 100 or FLTEC 300.  Permission numbers to enter the core program in the Fall semester are generally available by mid-June.

It’s recommended that you take one of these prerequisite courses while finishing the General Education requirements for your degree.

Q. What about flight training?

Sacramento City College does not currently offer any actual flight training. You must arrange for flight training on your own.  There are several flight training operators in the local area, including flying clubs.

During the core program, you will cover all the necessary knowledge and have an opportunity to earn an instructor endorsement required to take the FAA’s Private Pilot, Instrument Rating, and Commercial Pilot Aeronautical Knowledge (written) exams.

Q. What about drones?

The Aviation faculty is currently working on approval for a multi-disciplinary certificate program in Commercial Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

In the meantime, Sacramento City College is offering a Remote Pilot – Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems certification preparation course.  See FLTEC 499 for details.  This class will be offered evenings on the main Sacramento City College campus and does not require any prerequisites.

Q. What aviation programs are offered?

Sacramento City College offers degree programs in Air Traffic Control, Aircraft Dispatch, and Flight Technology.  We also offer certificate programs in Aircraft Dispatch and Flight Technology.

The Flight Technology program serves as the core curriculum to the Air Traffic Control and Aircraft Dispatch programs. It provides a broad knowledge in aviation topics such as Weather, Navigation, Communications, Regulations, Aerodynamics, Human Factors, the National and Transoceanic Airspace Systems, Instrument Procedures, and Large and Small Aircraft Propulsion, Systems and Instrumentation.  During the program, students have an opportunity to earn instructor endorsements for the FAA Private Pilot, Instrument Rating, and Commercial Pilot Aeronautical Knowledge exams.  The program must be completed in consecutive Fall and Spring semesters.

We maintain an FAA-authorized 14 CFR Part 65 Aircraft Dispatcher training program.  An aircraft dispatcher exercises joint operational control with an aircraft’s pilot-in-command for all air transport operations in U.S. airspace, and is often referred to as the “captain on the ground.”  Aircraft Dispatchers require the same level of knowledge and judgment as an Airline Transport Pilot.  In fact, the Aeronautical Knowledge tests for the Aircraft Dispatcher and the Airline Transport Pilot are drawn from the same pool of questions.  Our program curriculum is designed to give students the same level of knowledge obtained by professional pilots who have years of experience and have passed multiple FAA written and practical examinations.  Aircraft Dispatch students complete an intensive 8-week course in the Summer term immediately following completion of the Flight Technology core curriculum.  During that course, they are required to take the FAA Aeronautical Knowledge Exam (written), and upon completion, will have the opportunity to schedule a practical exam with an FAA or FAA-designee Dispatch Examiner for issuance of a certificate or Letter of Competency (see age requirements).

Sacramento City College is one of 31 FAA Air traffic – Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) partnership schools in the nation.  Graduates with an Air Traffic Control degree and a school recommendation letter may bypass one of the FAA’s applicant screening tools and compete for hiring and training at the FAA Academy in a smaller applicant pool than other non-FAA employees.  See the FAQ on air traffic control employment.  In addition to the core curriculum, Air Traffic Control graduates complete an additional Fall semester of intensive training on air traffic control, using lectures, control tower table-top exercises, and terminal and Enroute radar simulators.

Q. What are the class schedules?

The core Flight Technology curriculum, which serves as the basis of all our degree and certificate programs is offered annually, beginning in the Fall semester, then continuing into the following Spring semester.

The curriculum is delivered in a series of intensive 4-week courses covering a broad spectrum of aviation topics.  Classes are normally held Monday through Thursday afternoons, from 1PM to 4:10PM.

As with any college-level course, you can expect 2 hours of work outside the class for every hour you spend in the classroom.  Your total commitment will be about 8-9 hours per day to master the subject matter.


Q. Why should I complete my General Education requirements before entering the program?

There are several reasons for completing your General Education requirements before entering the program.

First, you can’t be in the program and taking general education courses at the same time.  Even though the courses are sequenced in 4-week blocks, you’ll have a full-time academic load of 15 units in each semester.  You’ll be studying 24-30 hours per week outside of class for the program.

Having the aviation knowledge fresh in your mind when you graduate and seek employment or transfer into a bachelor’s degree or flight training program means that you’ll spend less time (and possibly money) refreshing yourself on the technical material.

Age limits and application restrictions may factor into your decision as well.  If you’re pursuing a dispatch or airline pilot career, the 23 years old licensing requirement gives you time to pursue your degree without interfering with your career plans.  If you’re interested in air traffic control, the degree is required to compete for a position as an AT-CTI graduate.  Do you want to compete against 3800 Pool 1 applicants (AT-CTI graduates) or 26,000 Pool 2 applicants (general public)? The FAA hires roughly the same amount from each pool.

Finally, though you may start with a dream of flying or controlling, there are many other opportunities in aviation.  And even if you do keep that dream alive, you may wish to move into management at some point in your future.  At that point, having the degree rather than just your licenses and certificates will be key to your success.

Q. Do I have to have any aviation experience?

The Sacramento City College Aviation programs assume no prior knowledge of aviation.  Because of the intensive coursework schedule and time requirements, you do have to have the desire to learn and succeed.

Q. Are there any age requirements or limits?

Students enrolled for Aircraft Dispatcher must be at least 21 years of age no later than June 30th of the Summer term.

Other than that, Sacramento City College doesn’t impose any specific age limits or requirements.  Students however should be aware of age limits and requirements for certification and employment.

For professional pilots:

Commercial Pilot – at least 18 years of age

Restricted Air Transport Pilot – at least 21 years of age

(and other education requirements)

Air Transport Pilot – 23 years of age

Aircraft Dispatchers must be at least 21 years of age to take the Aircraft Dispatcher Aeronautical Knowledge (written) exam and to take the FAA Aircraft Dispatcher Practical Exam.  An Aircraft Dispatcher certificate will not be issued by the FAA until the successful applicant is at least 23 years of age.  A successful applicant who has not reached his or her 23rd birthday is issued a Letter of Competency.  This letter can be presented at any FAA Flight District Standards Office on or after the 23rd birthday, and an Aircraft Dispatcher certificate will be issued.  Until the certificate is issued, the holder of a Letter of Competency may not act as an aircraft dispatcher on any flight where one is required.

To apply for FAA hiring and Academy training as an Air Traffic Controller, applicants can be no older than 30 years of age as of the closing date of the FAA hiring announcement for which they apply.

Q. Are there any citizenship requirements?

There are no citizenship requirements for enrolling in the programs.

Training at the FAA Academy or employment in the U.S. as an air traffic controller, does require U.S. citizenship.

Visits to operational air traffic control facilities require U.S. citizenship.

For prospective pilots who are not U.S. citizens, you will be required to obtain a clearance from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration before you can begin actual flight training.  You can get more information from and complete the applications with your actual flight training provider.

FAA Aircraft Dispatcher certificates may be recognized or co-validated by Civil Aviation Authorities (CAA) in many parts of the world.  Some CAA’s require a test of national aviation law and ICAO differences before granting a co-validation.

Q. Are SCC’s Aviation programs FAA “Approved”?

“Approved” is a designation the FAA reserves for Flight Training organizations (14 CFR Parts 141 and 142) and Maintenance Training organizations (14 CFR Part 147).  SCC does have an approved Part 147 Airframe and Powerplant training course.  See the Aeronautics program.

Our Aviation programs are subject to FAA oversight and inspection.  All SCC Aviation program courses are taught by FAA certificate holders appropriate to the courses they teach.

The Aircraft Dispatcher program is FAA-authorized, with oversight and inspection by the FAA.  “Authorized” is the same designation the FAA gives to airlines.  As per the requirements of Federal regulations the practical dispatch courses are taught by actual Aircraft Dispatcher certificate holders, with airline operations center and management experience.   One of the requirements to maintain our authorization is that at least 80% of our graduates must pass the FAA practical exam on their first attempt.  In the six years of authorization, we’ve only had one graduate that didn’t make it.  That student passed on the second attempt.

The Air Traffic Control program is part of the FAA AT-CTI Partnership program.  One of the criteria is that our program must train and assess our students on all the FAA-required learning objectives for the FAA Academy AT-Basics course.  So far, SCC graduates who have had the opportunity to be hired for training at the FAA Academy have passed the Academy at better than an 80% rate.  All the Air Traffic Control simulations and specialty courses are taught by former FAA Certified Professional Controllers, with experience in some of the busiest tower, terminal, and Enroute facilities in the country.

All the Flight Technology core courses are taught by FAA certificated Flight and Ground Instructors with commercial and airline flight experience.  The faculty is authorized to give the instructor endorsements required to take the FAA Aeronautical Knowledge tests.

Q. Will an Air Traffic Control degree guarantee me employment with the FAA?

Graduates of an FAA AT-CTI Partnership program are not guaranteed employment as an air traffic controller.  The FAA hires based on its staffing needs, which varies year-to-year and according to traffic levels in the national airspace system and technology implementations. A person does not have to complete an AT-CTI program to be eligible to apply for an entry-level
FAA air traffic control specialist position.

By Congressional mandate, hiring is done from two sets of applicants.  The first set consists of former controllers and military controllers with at least one year’s experience controlling air traffic within the last two years.  If there are not enough experienced controllers to meet the hiring needs, then the FAA hires from two pools of applicants from public hiring announcements.  The FAA is Congressionally-mandated to hire roughly equal numbers from those pools.

The first pool consists of veterans with federal hiring preference and AT-CTI graduates who have a school recommendation letter.  This pool is relatively small.  Applicants from this pool also bypass one of the FAA’s applicant screening tools.  The second pool is for members of the general public.

All applicants must be U.S. citizens, pass pre-employment medical screening and background security check, have the ability to speak English clearly enough to be understood over communications equipment, not exceed the maximum age limit, and have the required minimum progressively responsible work experience.

Q. I already have a Private Pilot license. Do I still need to take the prerequisite course?

To receive a degree, you will need to complete the prerequisite course.  You may be granted “credit by examination” for FLTEC 320 Private Pilot Ground based on your certificate and current biennial flight review.

Q. What is an AT-CTI School Recommendation Letter and How Can I Get One?

The AT-CTI School Recommendation Letter is required by the FAA to allow an applicant to compete for entry-level Air Traffic Controller positions in the CTI Graduate/Preference Veteran applicant pool.  The letter must be uploaded to your applicant profile on USAJOBS.gov.  If you already have a letter and have loaded it to your profile, you do not have to get a new one for each application you submit.

To receive the letter, you must have received your Sacramento City College A.S. Air Traffic Control degree and, in accordance with our AT-CTI Partnership agreement, have maintained a “B” average or better in all non-elective Flight Technology and ATC courses.

The first step is to check your transcript and verify that you have been awarded the degree.  If you have completed the program and all your general education requirements, but don’t have a degree awarded, check with the Admissions and Records office.

Once you have verified that you have been awarded the degree on your transcript, contact the Advanced Technology Division office.  The office will verify your degree and grades with Admissions and Records, then issue you a letter.  Please allow at least three weeks for the processing.  If there are any questions regarding your eligibility, office staff will contact you.

Q. When and where do I take my FAA exams?  How much do they cost?

When you have completed the instructors’ criteria for FLTEC 320 (Private Pilot), FLTEC 310 (Instrument Procedures), and FLTEC 321 (Commercial Pilot), you can receive an instructor endorsement as required by 14 CFR Part 61 to take the appropriate Aeronautical Knowledge Exam.  With a little extra personal study on airship, free balloon, glider and rotorcraft topics not covered in the core program, you could be prepared to take your Ground Instructor Basic and Advanced exams.  If you are pursuing a pilot career and plan on being a flight instructor at some point, you could also take the Instrument Instructor exam after FLTEC 310.  The tests are given on a PASS/FAIL basis (70% is passing) and the results are valid for two years.

The knowledge test results, and any additional endorsements required  (from your flight instructor; not SCC), are given to your FAA or FAA-designated examiner at the time of your practical exam for the certificate or rating.

The tests costs $150 each (discounts for EAA and AOPA members), and are given at FAA-approved CATS/PSI testing centers.  There are testing centers at the Sac Executive, Nut Tree, Stockton, and Auburn airports (see the link to find other locations).  Active-duty military and eligible veterans may take the tests for free at the DANTE testing center at Travis or Beale AFB’s.

The Practical Dispatch Operations course (ATCAD 310) requires you to take the FAA Aircraft Dispatcher Aeronautical Knowledge exam.  The exam is given at the same places listed above, at the same $150 cost.  There is no endorsement required.  The exam must be completed by the end of the fourth week of the class.

Immediately following the end of ATCAD 310, the school will make arrangements for an FAA or FAA-designed Dispatch Examiner to come to McClellan and give the practical exam leading to issuance of a certificate (license) or letter of competency.  The cost of the practical exam is $500-$700 dollars, and is paid to the examiner, not Sac City.

The FAA Aeronautical Knowledge exam for Remote Pilot – Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems is also given at the CATS/PSI testing centers.  Again, the cost is $150, and the test is given on a PASS?FAIL basis.  No endorsement is required, and there is currently no practical test.  Applicants who pass the test can present the results at the FAA’s Sacramento Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) for issuance of their certificate.


For more infor­ma­tion about these require­ments, please visit the FAA website.