Do me a favor and grab your logbook, and go through all the entries in it, and look for the flight instructor signatures. These are the signatures of the flight instructors who have taught you at some point, for some course, or maybe even covered for another instructor and provided you with dual flight instruction.

A flight instructor is supposed to endorse / sign against each and every flight and ground lesson he or she conducts in the student’s logbook. The entry should include:

  1. Items covered in the lesson
  2. CFI signatures
  3. CFI Number
  4. Date

This post today is about the CFI Number. I have noticed thousands of times in all these years of going over the pilot logbooks, and hiring and supervising new flight instructors and reviewing their logbooks, and then auditing the logbooks of the students as a chief flight instructor that many “newly minted” CFI’s, in all excitement (or ignorance) have written their CFI numbers ending with either CFII or MEI. Some even have used both; like:

John Doe (sign) 1234567CFII (date) OR John Doe (sign) 1234567CFII/MEI (date)

Well, I have a problem with this. And here are the reasons why I have problems with this:

  1. Writing your CFI Number for each lesson given is not customary, but a requirement under the Federal Law.
  2. No CFI certificate, irrespective of whether the flight instructor has CFII and/or MEI or not, always follows the format of 1234567CFI; i.e. 7 digits, and ending with CFI.
  3. CFII and MEI are simply RATINGS on a flight instructor CERTIFICATE.
  4. Writing incorrect CFI Number means: violation of the Federal Law, and opening yourself to the possibilities of lawsuits, additional and unnecessary liability and FAA action.
  5. It simply is unprofessional.

I understand how one feels upon successfully adding additional ratings and qualifications to one’s pilot or flight instructor certificate, but please understand, the CFI endorsements are not your business cards. It is OK to write down CFI, CFII, MEI, BGI, AGI, IGI, NAFI Master CFI, Gold Seal etc on your business card (right under your name), or in your email signatures. BUT, not on Federal documentation.

The first 7 digits are the same as your pilot certificate number, and the CFI signifies that it is your CFI certificate that you are exercising for that particular lesson credit. If you are using your Ground Instructor certificate, in that case you would write down the Ground Instructor certificate number, which is the same as your pilot certificate number, i.e. it DOES NOT end with a BGI, AGI or IGI.

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  • kimoking

    Yeah this always annoyed me too. Especially when it is a student pilot certificate which was endorsed and then the student asks me to sign them off on a route endorsement for a cross country. Then I have to give him the bad news that he can not go until he gets his CFI to sign the certificate right.

    • admin

      Yup Jim. Annoying, illegal and asking for trouble.

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  • Is there a way to lookup CFI numbers. I was scanning log book from years ago and found that a lot of instructors did not take care writing there names and the names are illegible.

    • CFI

      Well, there is a way, but means digging into FAA databases. Kind of a tough thing. It takes a few hours to download it. However, if you know some information about that instructor, like last name, or first name etc, you can try looking him/her up by following this link: -www.landings.com/_landings/pages/search/certs-pilot.html”” target=”_blank”> ” target=”_blank”>-www.landings.com/_landings/pages/search/certs-pilot.html” target=”_blank”>http://www.landings.com/evird.acgi$pass*182992536…” target=”_blank”> ” target=”_blank”>-www.landings.com/_landings/pages/search/certs-pilot.html

  • WDM

    The point of this article is simply incorrect. The author may prefer that instructors not include CFI/CFII/MEI at the end of the instructor certificate number but that's a matter of personal preference. There is no legal basis for the author's assertion. Signing 1234567CFI/CFII/MEI does, indeed, meet the requirement of including a CFI number, assuming that the number is correct, of course. There is no prohibition against adding the type of instructor certificate is in use.

    Note, too, that logbook endorsements are NOT federal documentation but may (or may not be) documentation that is required by Federal Statute.

    • CFI

      @WDM – Thanks for your comment. The point of the article is to "use the correct CFI number as written on your CFI certificate". I do not see anything incorrect about doing that, so I do not see the point being incorrect. Also, the 2 examples I stated in the article do not have CFI in the end. I agree with your example, that if you use 1234567CFI/CFII/MEI may meet the requirements of 14 CFR 61.189, and few other federal aviation regulations. This tells me that the correct certificate number is in fact required by the federal law.
      But what got my attention the most out of your comment if the last line of the first paragraph – "There is no prohibition against adding the type of instructor certificate is in use". The problem here is that there are no different "types" of flight instructor certificates. There is just one single type. Rest everything else is simply ratings on it.
      WDM, what we teach here at CFI Academy is to do everything right, and in a professional manner, as this is what keeps us safe. Common practice is one thing, but imagine the litigation attorney questioning your 1234567MEI on a student pilot initial solo ending up in fatality. That is the worse kind of times we stay prepared for.
      Also, what are your thoughts about FAA Form 8710? Does that look like a legal document to you? How do you write your CFI number there? And IACRA? Does that accept CFI/CII/MEI? So if all the systems are in place to use the number correctly, then why do we resist this?

  • WDM

    CFI – I have no problem with doing things as you suggest. The problem is the suggestion that not doing as suggested is incorrect; it's not. I prefer to stress those things that keep students and the public safe. Has a student ever experienced a mishap because a CFI included CFI/CFII/MEI after the certificate number?
    There is no "Form 8710" in use currently. There is Form 8710-1, 8710-4, 8710-10, 8710-11 and probably others. Do I understand what you mean? Of course. Should I point out that your comment, as written, was incorrect? I put it in the same category as the CFI/CFII/MEI issue – probably correct but trivial.

  • WDM

    I[continuing – comment was too long for one post]
    'm glad you stress how "to do everything right." My only criticism is that you extend that to the meaningless.

    FWIW, I'm an ATP with multiple type-ratings and was a NATOPS evaluator in the Navy. One of the most insidious issues I confront is when standards are "improved." Usually the standards are fine as they are and the "improvements" stress the unimportant and/or trivial. When the standards need true improvement, it's another matter. I'll let readers determine which category the CFI/CFII/MEI issue falls into.

  • AK

    Agree with the original post. There’s no such thing as an “MEI.” You’re simply a CFI with multi engine privileges. “MEI” or “CFII” is a colloquialism and therefore they are incorrect. Suffixing your number with “MEI” or “CFII” looks silly and IT IS unprofessional. If there’s any question of an instructor’s credentials, they can easily be verified.

  • someonewhohatesstupidstuffthatdoesnotmatter

    The Certified Flight Instructor Number on the certificate has CFI in it, therefore, they way I see it is part of the number

    • CFI

      And you are RIGHT! You\’ll never see CFII and/or MEI as part of the CFI certificate number. That\’s the point.