What is the National Fail Rate for 1st attempt CFI Initial Checkride Applicants?

I don’t know for sure how much, but I am sure we can all agree that it is pretty steep. It surely is well over 70% nationally. This should beg the question, why is it so high? Over the past couple decades of teaching, hiring and mentoring new Flight Instructors, I’ve been trying to figure this out. If I can say so myself, I think my 1st time pass ratio (lifetime) is better than the reciprocal of the ratio above. I did put together a list of “Top 10 Ways to Fail a CFI Checkride” some 10 years ago. And then recently, added the “Top-most Reason for Failing the CFI Checkride“. Outside of these 11 reasons; I think there is even a bigger culprit that brings the national pass rate down to it’s knees. If you have not read the above 2 posts yet, I suggest you do that before going further with this post. Let me explain. My mom is a retired elementary school teacher. She would teach 1st graders whatever they were expected to know per the school curricula each year.
This was in India; and in those countries the kids are pushed into cut-throat academic competition from the get go. Good paying jobs were limited, and the prospective future employees were many times over.So many of the parents who could afford to, would hire her for private tutoring. So the 1st graders could have an edge over their classmates from the very beginning. Year after year, I would see her teach these kids, from all walks of life, hailing from all over India. All of the states in India are in fact ethnically and culturally unique. Just like most ethnic countries are. And most flight training students are as well. India has 22 National Languages, and English is the only common language between all these states. Here is a picture of a currency note of India, and as you can see, the note value is printed in at least 17 different languages.
Instructional Knowledge for CFI
Instructional Knowledge
My point here is that it is not possible for one teaching method to work for  45 kids from a diverse background in one classroom. Some get it, many don’t. This explains the need for private tutoring. I would see her “deploy” various different methods to teach “different” kids. At the end of the school year, they would all be “there”, but, they surely did not walk the same path to get “there”. [perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]If you can not explain it simply; you do not understand it well enough – Einstein[/perfectpullquote] She was able to do this “magic” act for them, because she was aware, and she had the absolute mastery of the subject matters. And above all, she loved to teach. The look on the kids’ faces when they would actually “get it” was truly amazing. Even I noticed! She had the knack for transferring knowledge from her to them, one way or another! When we compare the commercial and the CFI test standards, we clearly see that besides one or 2 extra maneuvers (like spins), most the Areas of Operations are the same, and the listed Tasks are the same. Even in-flight completion standards of performance are the same. So what’s the difference? [perfectpullquote align=”left” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]A Flight Instructor is a practical psychologist.[/perfectpullquote]
The only difference is – one word, “satisfactory” knowledge, vs “instructional” knowledge. That’s it – just one word. Most CFI applicants around the country prepare for the CFI checkride in the same manner like they did for all their previous checkrides. And unfortunately, many Instructors are teaching CFI applicants using the same methodology. Teaching a pilot applicant and teaching a Flight Instructor applicant is not the same thing.  

Advantages of On-Campus Student Housing

Since 1998 we have been involved in the business of exclusively training Flight Instructors. If you do something long enough, you are bound to have a little edge over your competition. Well, we have a bit more than just little.

On-campus student housing is ONE of them. Our building is custom built for what we do. Our CFI Applicants live and train in the same building.

cfi academy housing
on campus housing
  • No distractions.
  • No rental car necessary.
  • $200/week.
  • Group learning.
  • Total immersion.
  • Group activities.
  • Learning from each other.
  • Group support.

It’s almost like going to a “monastery” to completely immerse oneself – and walk out mastering the skill!!

Click here to go to the Campus Housing page – Accomodations

The top-most reason for failing CFI checkride

I was just going through some old posts on this CFI blog, and came across this one – Top 10 Ways to Fail your CFI Checkride. This post was written some 10 years ago, and explains the top reasons why CFI applicants fail the CFI Checkride. But then again, I have the 11th and the most common reason today, to share with you. This is in fact the reason that has prevented us here to maintain the perfect pass rate.

Why fail CFI checkride
CFI Checkride Fail

So what’s the top reason to fail CFI Checkride?

CFI Checkride can be a long enduring task. Yes, the checkride itself can be anywhere from 6-8 hours long. But the real test begins a day or 2 before the actual meeting with the DPE. Any checkride can be nerve-wrecking, but the CFI is the biggest of all the “monsters” you will ever face.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Stress and Aviation Do Not Mix Well! Read more here.[/perfectpullquote]

Calm Down

As the “big day” approaches, you will start feeling the “heat”. You will start second-guessing yourself. You will feel like everyone is all-eyes on you. And all of this is normal. Learn to control your “defense-mechanisms”. Stay focused, and stay confident. [/perfectpullquote]

The Big Day

Be prepared to have a long day. Even though the actual checkride may not be an 8 hour ordeal, but still, it can be exhausting.

Many fall in the trap of pushing it. And this is the biggest reason for the failures here.

You call for breaks

CFI checkride is like none other. In this one, you demonstrate that you are in control. Call for breaks. Let the DPE know that you need to stretch out, take a walk, need a breath of fresh air. And then just do so. In real life, when you are really teaching, you would be doing so. I know I do.

Energy Bar

Bring some snacks with you. And no, not the “cheetos” won’t cut it. Your body and your mind needs nutrition. Bring an energy bar, or 2, some almonds or trail mix and lots of water. And use it. keep yourself replenished with minerals, vitamins and hydrate.

Most failures are due to lack of rest, nutrition, or hydration. And not due to lack of knowledge or skill.

Passed your CFI Checkride, Now What?

Well congratulations! Now that you have passed your CFi checkride and you are a real Flight Instructor. Not imitating to be one anymore 😉 Let’s help you setup your shop. There are a few tools you would need, and then some that are recommended.

Setup your IACRA Account for CFI privileges

Log on to IACRA like you always have, and click “Add Role” on the left panel. In the next screen select “Recommending Instructor” and submit. I do not remember if it’ll ask you for your CFI Number, but if it does, instead of PENDING, enter your commercial certificate number immediately followed by CFI.
Add CFI role to your IACRA account
It takes a few days, but you will receive an email once it is setup.

Setup your TSA/DHS FTP Account

Now you may already have selected an employer Flight School for yourself, but it is still not a bad idea to setup your Flight Training Provider (FTP) account with TSA’s Alien Flight Student Program. Just in case, this one rich bastar* shows up with some cool equipment and wants to hire you outside of your Flight School job; now would not be a good time to start enrolling. Again, it’s a government website, so takes a few days to setup your account. Once setup, prospective students can select your name as an FTP from the drop-down menu, and upon your approval can go forward with submitting fingerprints through LiveScan and receiving permission to initial flight training. Not all students have to be on M-1 or other kinds of student visa for flight training.

Receive and Document your TSA Security Awareness Training

Before you provide any Flight Training to anyone, you will need to go through initial TSA Security Awareness Training. You will have to print (I print pdf and save on computer) the completion certificate and make it available for inspection by the TSA agents. Recurrent Training is due every 12 months. Your employer will make sure that you do this, but then, we want to stay proactive and independent, just in case that rich bastar* shows up. I got visited many times. If you build it, they will come.

Join NAFI or SAFE, or both

Every professional maintains professional memberships. I have always been a member with NAFI. Membership dues are $54/year. Cheaper than an hour’s worth of flight instruction! But they will give you so much value in return. Their monthly magazine, Flying, and the quaterly Mentor are full of enducational articles by the flight instructors for the flight instructors. And they offer a Professional Development Program. Oh, and the membership comes with typical discounts of Aviation Products. S.A.F.E. is the estranged step brother of NAFI. Once upon a time NAFI went off the track, and followed AOPA’s lead of wining and dining at the membership’s expense. But they did turn around real quick, thanks to SAFE. I have no personal experience with them, but the founders JoAnn and Sandy Hill were the original founders of NAFI as well. Really good people.

Get your Flight Instructor Insurance

You have invested so much time and money to be where you are today. Don’t get stingy with trying to get by without professional insurance. Besides the typical hull and liability coverage, it comes with legal aid as well. Know this for a fact, flight school insurance covers the flight school and no one else. No matter what they tell you. There were times in my life when I was paying over $15K monthly in flight school insurance, so you can take my word on this. And surely this insurance will some in handy in case you bump that rich bastar*’s airplane a little too hard on landing. They are rich but also cheap! Proportionally. Avemco insurance offers substantial discounts to NAFI members.

Get Involved with FAAST

Membership with FAAST is free. Get involved with them both as a student for professional development, and also as an Instructor to help out with Safety Programs. You can join on the website, but to be fully participating, you will need to call the local FSDO office and ask for the FAAST program manager. They are always extremely hard to get a hold of. Just be patient, call and email. Rewards will be juicy. This is how you run into the rich bastar*. And let me know when you do. BTW, you are eligible for 3 phases of WINGS for completing your CFI course. If you decide to join FAAST, and need credit for the training here on FAAST website, you can look me up in the approved instructor section by my name.

Get Involved with CAP

Every professional should volunteer one way or another in their professional field. Pick FAAST or CAP; I’d say both. Look up a local squadron that has senior members. Go and talk to the commander. Excellent organization, lots of good pilot training. And you’d be doing a service to your community.

Join Professional Flight Instructor Forums and Groups

There are many out there. Pick whatever ones suit your style. I would (partial) highly recommend CFI Academy Facebook Group though. We have kept it clean of gossip, adverts, nuisance etc. We kick people out for no reason and we are still almost 7,000 member strong. Many CFIs, DPEs, FAA people in there, so don’t be writing stuff up that you can’t fess up.

Read Savvy Flight Instructor Guide

Get a copy of Savvy Flight Instructor Guide – by Gregg Brown, and read through. And then apply everything in it in your CFI profession. You will go long ways with this $20 investment.

Start Asking for and Collecting Reference Letters

Reference letters hold a great deal of influence. Especially when there is a tie-breaker for that one job. Reference letters should be coming from friends (not family), employers, teachers/instructors, and customers. All have a unique value to them, and you should have at least 2 of each. If you need me to write you one, please let me know. CFI Academy’s brand name is well known and well respected in the Business Aviation world. I put in substantial effort continually towards this.

Join Linkedin

If you already do not have an account on Linkedin, create one. And send me an invite. Here is my profile link.

Start Working towards FAA Gold Seal

Refer to your AC-61-65F (I hope you still remember what that is) – the first 30 pages has tremendous information about things like FAAST program, CFI renewal options, and also for Gold Seal program. Ground Instructor certificate if one of the requirements.So if you do not already have an AGI, look into getting an IGI when you are prepping up for CFII written. Same question bank for both.

Start Working towards Master CFI designation

Both NAFI and SAFE manage this program. Either one is fine. They both run them identical. It helps build knowledge, and credibility, and you will find that participating in FAAST and CAP actually pay off well if attempting the Master CFI designation. I have held it 3 times during early on in my career. Now I just own the domain name –

Some other Suggestions

  1. Subscribe to my blog – there is a subscription box in the right sidebar, scroll halfway up. I’ve decided to post at least one educational post each week to share. It wouldn’t be the book stuff I promise.
  2. Start your own blog – invite me. I’ll come and check it out. MasterCFI.Org is going to be a blog hosting platform for the CFIs. Coming soon.

Did you find this infrormation useful? 


True Accelerated CFI

A true Accelerated CFI Program will get you your CFI ticket in your pocket within the advertised time – frame.

accelerated CFI course at CFI Academy
Accelerated CFI at CFI Academy

There are many “CFI Academy” offers out there nowadays, promoted by many big and small flight schools. Many claiming that they have a 10 day, 14 day, even 7 day CFI training course. One larger one tries to present itself as more realistic, and claims to have a 30 day CFI course.

The true test of a real accelerated CFI course is – call them, and ask them, how much is the waiting time for the checkride after you’ve completed their accelerated CFI course.

If they can not assure you that their program duration includes the checkride, then it is NOT so TRUE Accelerated CFI Program!

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]CFI Academy ( offers 3 weeks CFI course  that includes FAA checkride.[/perfectpullquote]

4 applicants per class, 2 classes per month. Extremely high 1st time pass rate.

100% pass rate within 4 weeks, for the 2nd attempt guys. In case you are the unlucky one that somehow flunked the 1st attempt.

On-campus housing. Learn about the on-campus housing advantages here. Dedicated DPE’s. 20 years of CFI Academy experience. CFI is all that we do.

CFI Academy’s CFI course is truly an ACCELERATED CFI course. We are thorough, flexible, and economical.

Also, read about what you should expect during attending the Accelerated CFI Course.


Foreign Pilot/Instructor Conversion to US FAA Pilot/CFI

Obtaining a US FAA pilot certificate (license) and a Flight Instructor Certificate, when you hold foreign pilot and instructor licenses is possible. The following procedures are applicable to all foreign nationals, except for our friends from Canada. For Canadian pilots and instructors, there is a separate set of rules.

Foreign to FAA CFI
Foreign to FAA CFI

Converting your Foreign Pilot’s License to FAA

If you hold a foreign ATP or Commercial Pilot license, then follow these steps –

  1. Go to FAA’s website and complete the process for obtaining a US FAA Private Pilot. There is no written or practical exam required for this. And there is no fee either. Here is a link to the FAA’s page. There are additional instructions for EASA guys, and some other countries that require additional fee to be paid to their respective Governmental Aviation Agencies. Once this step is completed, you should get your FAA Private Pilot (Foreign Based) in the mail. Your foreign pilot privileges and limitations will all be applicable on the US FAA Private. – FAR 61.75
  2. The next step is to come to the United States, and obtain a US FAA Commercial and Instrument Rating. All of your foreign flight times, and flight training is creditable, however you will need to take 2 written exams and 2 practical exams. It does not matter whether you take the commercial or the instrument rating ahead of the other.
  3. At this time you should hold a FAA Commercial Pilot, with instrument rating, and a foreign based Private Pilot. This qualifies you to move ahead with the Flight Instructor certification.

Converting your foreign Flight Instructor License to the US FAA Flight Instructor -CFI

There is no conversion process in place for converting or obtaining a US FAA Flight Instructor Certificate based on a foreign flight instructor license. You will need to follow the instructions laid down in FAR 61 Subpart H.

CFI Academy specializes in training Flight Instructor applicants. You can read about our CFI course here.

Foreign ATP holders

If you hold a foreign ATP, then you may qualify for the FAA ATP directly. You don’t have to go through the Commercial and Instrument Rating process as described above. However, you will, in this case, go to a Flight Training Provider that offers and provides a ATP CTP program. The cost of going through this path is usually more than the process described above. If there is a need for you to hold a US FAA ATP, then definitely go this route. Otherwise, if the goal is to get a US CFI certificate, then the above described method is much easier and cost effective.

If you need further clarification about this topic, please write down your comment below and we will be happy to assist.

What is Adequate Instruction?

Becoming a flight instructor comes with a great deal of power.

With great power comes a great responsibility

Benjamin “Ben” Parker (Uncle Ben) 😊

CFI providing adequate instruction
Instructor Responsibility

Dictionary meaning of adequate instruction is – sufficient. Sufficient? So how do we define, weigh, or measure, sufficient in flight instruction?

The FAA PTS or ACS describes what the minimum standards should be. So at least we know what the “end product” should look like. Maybe.

Now, if someone is lost, and you get to help them reach their destination, then you must know what the destination is, and, what their current location is. And with proper evaluation, we can figure out where our student is.

Just like with space/time, the measure of knowledge is multi-dimensional as well. Rote, Understanding, Application, and Correlation is described in the Fundamentals of Instructions as Levels of Learning.

And the difference between a Commercial Pilot and a Flight Instructor knowledge, per their respective PTS/ACS standards is; satisfactory vs instructional.

Providing adequate instruction without evaluation is not possible. And proper evaluation, at the deepest level, is not possible in a short amount of time. It is a continuous process. A continuous evaluation of piloting skills and knowledge, while progressing through the training.

Another instructor responsibility is – accept the students with all their weaknesses and shortcomings. And help them realize their maximum potential.

This is where the things start getting interesting. As each student is different, therefor their “maximum potential” should be different. Also, their learning styles.

Adequate instruction, means, not only the quantity of training, but the quality of training, and the instructor’s training delivery methods to suit the student’s learning style, and of course the unequal completion standards.

PTS/ACS standards are the MINIMUM standards. It’s the equivalent of the 70% passing score in the written exam.

Each pilot certificate or rating course has a minimum aeronautical experience requirement. And if the instructor uses all the tools in the instructor tool-bag, and in-fact does provide the adequate instruction, while evaluating along the way, only then he/she can help the student fully realize their maximum potential.

Adequate instruction is not the difference between where they are and the PTS/ACS standards, but the difference between where they are and where they really can be.

Adequate instruction also plants a seed. When this seed is planted, and watered, it’ll just keep on growing, even long after the instructor finished his/her job with that student. And the watering comes from the now changed behavior of the student. This changed behavior includes the constant desires for professional growth, and for sharing the knowledge with others, and the constant hunger for self-enhancement. Almost like Tesla’s self-perpetual engine.

Success Stories – Tobi

All done. Happy #CFI

A post shared by CFI Academy (@cfiacademy) on

This is Tobi from Chicago, IL area. He worked really hard towards his CFI checkride preparation. One of the things he had to overcome was his communication skills. His rate of speech was a bit too fast, and he had to proactively work on learning to speak slowly and clearly so a new student can understand what he is communicating.

Initially he had some anxiety he admitted. His fear was that there is a lot that needs to be learned to covered in a short amount of time. Well, he did!!

It was a long day of checkride, but he excelled!

Congratulations Tobi. Welcome to the club. Now, don’t let this ticket expire on you.

Here is a link to the CFI program.

CFI Reinstatement

You let your CFI expire?

Expired CFI – Reinstatement

A Flight Instructor certificate expires every 24 calendar months. There are many different methods available to renew an Unexpired Flight Instructor certificate. But once the certificate has already expired, then it needs to be reinstated.

The process of reinstatement involves taking a checkride with an FAA examiner. Written exam is not required.

If you had a CFI, CFII and MEI (all 3 ratings), then you can pick any ONE of the ratings and take a practical exam for it and this should result in complete reinstatement. If you did not have all 3 ratings, then consider adding the one that’s missing.

Choosing CFII or MEI is usually a better choice. They both can be completed in 3-4 days each. I’d also go and attend some FAA approved FIRC program. I personally have been using American Flyer’s online FIRC for about 20 years now. They have a lifetime renewal membership for cheap.

You should also visit FAA Safety website and go through the available online safety seminars.

Visit our CFI Reinstatement page, and enroll to get your’s reinstated.

And yes, it is 3-4 days of training even if you have not flown a small airplane in a while. We have been helping pilots get this taken care of for more than 2 decades now. We will help with making this process very easy for you.

Accelerated CFI Program

Accelerated CFI Program

The Accelerated CFI Training Course is a fast paced flight and ground training program where both the applicant and the assigned Flight Instructor dedicate their full time and effort towards the common goal: preparing the CFI applicant to achieve the required aeronautical experience and knowledge levels prescribed within the FARs and the CFI Practical Test Standards (PTS), in a shorter than normal period of time.

Accelerated CFI Course
Accelerated CFI Course - Small Class Size

Is it Truly Accelerated?


Assigned Instructor Responsibilities

The instructor assigned to teach the flight instructor applicant dedicates his or her entire work day (which is mostly 8-10 hours per day) instructing the applicant on required area of operations. This instructor is exclusively assigned to the training program and does not have any other obligations, students, or job duties. Here at CFI Academy, as we do not teach any other pilot courses, there are no distractions for us. This is one of the benefits of doing your CFI training at an exclusive flight instructor academy.

Accelerated Course Applicant Responsibilities

To achieve maximum benefit (which is shorter training duration in this case) the applicant has to dedicate his or her entire focus, dedication, and energy each day, and work very hard to learn everything necessary as quickly as possible. The instructor is capable to teaching only as fast as the student is capable to learning and retaining the knowledge. The pace of the accelerated program is heavily dependent on the applicant’s own progress.

What to Expect

The CFI aeronautical knowledge portion (ground training) can easily take about 60 hours, and the skill (flight) portion is about 10 hours flight time plus pre and post flight briefings. So we can easily assume 20 hours for the flight portion. This adds up to about 80 hours (remember, its not the hours, its the successful transfer of information from instructor to student) of hard work. And we do all this in 2 weeks. With discipline and focus, this is an achievable task, and has been done many a times by many applicants ahead of you.

What Not to Expect

CFI certificate comes with a lot of responsibilities. Teaching others how to fly is not only fun, but challenging as well. And if not done properly can lead to undesirable events (and FAA actions, or more). Providing adequate instruction is a learned skill. Therefore, do not expect to get a sign-off from your instructor at the end of 2 weeks just because you have completed the 2 weeks and we said it would be 2 weeks. Read the 2 objectives above again. And also do not expect any FAA inspector or DPE to write you a temporary CFI certificate as well, just because you spent 2 weeks here with us in Sacramento.

What Helps

Even though it is not a requirement, try to come over with your CFI knowledge tests pass – both the Flight Instructor Airplane (FIA) and the Fundamentals of Instruction (FOI). This will definitely help reducing your workload and gain more in the 2 weeks. We will have extra time to spend on other areas where you can use some extra help. You may also want to consider showing up here the weekend before the course start date (course starts Mondays, you show up here the Fridays before) and go through our CFI knowledge test prep course. 3 intensive days of FIA and FOI preparation, and by Monday you will have both the exams out of the way.

If you decide to prepare for these 2 exams on your own, and take the actual tests here at our location, just let us know ahead of time so we can arrange all that for you. All in all, it really helps if you have the tests out of the way before we begin.

CFI Academy’s Flight Instructor Course (CFI) – The True Accelerated Course – but to us, it is our legendary 3 week CFI Course