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.
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.
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 – MasterCFI.com
Some other Suggestions
- 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.
- 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?
Becoming a flight instructor comes with a great deal of power.
With great power comes a great 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.
Stress and aviation do not match. I have always reminded my students to leave their personal lives outside once they are ready to step into the cockpit. If, for some reason, this is not a possibility, then the flight should happen another day. Stress and living organisms go hand in hand. It is unavoidable. The point here is if it is manageable or not. Every human has a personal tolerance, and a personal way to cope with stress. Teach your students about the topic, and encourage and guide them to learn about their own limitations.
The aircraft’s weight and balance does not account for the weight of the stress
A few days ago I came across a Facebook post by a good friend of mine, who is also a great flight instructor with instrument rating airplane privileges. He is a very active CFII, and teaches a whole bunch of instrument flying in a part of our nation where the weather is IMC for the most part of the year.
VFR into IMC kills
In that post, he mentioned how he used about an hour out of the minimum 3 required towards private pilot certification and took his student into actual IMC conditions, and even introduced him to ILS approaches. My personal and professional opinion about this is as follows –
The 3 hours required in the Private Pilot training are not to be used for anything else but to reiterate the fact that unintentional VFR flight into IMC is deadly, and should be avoided at all times. Proper weather briefing and proper flight planning is of the utmost importance to avoid getting into such a soup.
Still, if we do end up in IMC, the best course of action is to stay calm, maintain positive aircraft control, AND make a 180 degree level turn to get out the same way you got in. Weather is guaranteed to be VMC where you were just a few minutes ago.
Giving any instrument flight training to a basic student pilot, may, unintentionally convey a false sense of security to the student, This is especially true if the student is learning in an advanced GPS/Auto Pilot equipped aircraft.
VFR flight into IMC is still the deadliest killer in general aviation.
Deliberate effort has to be made by the flight instructor to ensure that the student pilot understands just how dangerous an unintentional VFR into IMC could be.
Remember, the best course of action in such a situation is to stay calm, maintain positive control of the aircraft, and make a level 180 degree turn to get out the same way you entered in the first place (I appreciate this may not be the case in mid-west etc), and the 3 hours required to learn “to fly an airplane with reference to instruments” in private pilot training should be spent just to learn this.
In Airplane Flying Handbook, you will find this training under “Emergency Procedures”. And flying in a moonless dark night presents equal amount of risk, even though legally it might be completely VFR weather.
So you want to be a CFI?
I have always believed that the real learning begins when one starts teaching. Everybody has their own reasons as to why they want to be a CFI. There are some retired Air Force and Airline pilots, who want to become CFIs so they can share their professional expertise with the new aviators. Most younger newly certified Commercial Pilots want to get their CFI so they can get their foot in the door, and start building those “magic hours” and meet the airline hiring minimums. And then there are some others who simply want to get their CFI as a source of self-gratification and sense of professional development. There are other reasons as well.
However, no matter what your reason is, always remember, that the more “heart” you put into teaching others, the more you will learn yourself. The moment you stop improving yourself, as a flight instructor, you will stop getting better.
Here is a great article “So you want to be a CFI“. Click to download.
I am working on renewing my CFI certificate and associated ratings, which are about to expire on Nov 30. It is allowed to complete the renewal process and obtain a new CFI certificate within 3 months prior to the expiration date and still retain the original expiration date (Nov 30 in this case) 2 years down.
There are 10 ways listed here to renew a CFI certificate, and at least 9 to renew before expiration. If the certificate is allowed to expire before renewal, then there is only one way; #1, by taking a practical test and get CFI Reinstatement done.
Take a practical test (checkride) –
This method is usually used by someone whose CFI has already expired, but in any case, this method is still an available option to renew unexpired CFI certificate as well. Once a CFI certificate expires, you must pass a checkride for any one rating (CFI, CFII or MEI) on the CFI certificate and renew the certificate with all the rest of the ratings as well.
Take a practical test (checkride) for an additional CFI rating –
If you do not have all the CFI ratings on your certificate, you can train and pass a checkride for an additional flight instructor rating; this will renew your CFI and associated ratings.
Maintaining 80% Pass Rate of 1st Time Recommendations –
Maintaining and demonstrating via proper documentation, first time pass rate of at least 8o% out of a minimum of 5 recommendations for a practical test in the preceding 24 month period.
Serve as a check airman in part 91, 121, 133 and 135
Demonstrating your experience evaluating other pilots may allow you to renew your CFI. Proper appointment credentials and logbook entries can be used to document such experience.
Attending and successfully completing industry sponsored Flight Instructor Refresher Clinic (FIRC).
There are numerous options in this category. One may attend and complete this course in person, or online.
Attending an FAA sponsored CFI workshop.
Information and announcements about upcoming CFI workshops are made in most aviation print media, and at www.faasafety.gov.
Participating in FAA Wings program –
A CFI may utilize FAA Wings Program for CFI renewal as well. Here are the requirements – (1) be a participant in FAA Wings Program, (2) Provide 15 hours of flight training to other participating pilots (3) Sign off at least 5 other pilots for their phase of this program.
Earn Gold Seal Certification –
Maintain and demonstrate that you have over 80% first time practical test passes out of a minimum of 10 recommendations (sign-offs) in the preceding 24 calendar months. This will get you a gold seal and also renew your CFI certificate. This can only be used once in a lifetime.
Earn or renew Master CFI designation –
Earn or renew a Master CFI designation (there are 2 different programs for this) for renewal of a CFI certificate.
Renewal based on duties and responsibilities –
In rare cases, an FAA inspector may allow a CFI to renew based on his/her duties and responsibilities within the FSDO’s jurisdiction and FAA inspector’s thorough and personal knowledge of your activities. Contact the FAA FAASTeam (Safety Team) Manager in your FSDO.
If your CFI Certificate has already expired, then read this – CFI Reinstatement
First published in 2003 by Robert Jex, CFI
Received an email this morning from someone who holds a Flight Instructor certificate (or license) in Netherlands, and also has instructor privileges in the military in his country. He wanted to know if there is a way for him to convert his Netherlands flight instructor license to a US FAA CFI certificate.
The short answer to this is; No, there is no way to convert ANY country’s flight instructor license to a US FAA CFI certificate. There are no credits or exemptions available. And the vice-versa is true as well.
However, as there are no minimum number of ground or flight training hour requirement for a CFI certificate checkride in the US, you may end up spending much lesser time in preparation for an FAA CFI checkride. Your own knowledge and skill level will determine this.
Another thing one can do to expedite the CFI certificate preparation is Self Study. The more you come prepared yourself, the easier and faster the training would be. Aerodynamics, Weather, Navigation are examples of subject areas which are common between FAA and JAA and others.
Now is the time to finally go for your check-ride and you, along with your CFI, go over the checklist in the PTS and one of the requirements is a completed 8710-1 form. Although there is an explanation on what to put in each block, there is sometimes confusion and some how applications still get kicked back from the DPE, local FSDO, or Oklahoma.
Checking the wrong/incorrect Application Information Boxes
Check ALL the boxes that apply for your checkride. There is no limit to how many boxes you can check in this section, so do not hesitate and be as accurate as possible.
Not using “NMN” in block A, if there is no middle name
If you do not have a middle name, use NMN, i.e. no middle name. If you have more than one middle name, pick one – the one that you picked for your medical certificate.
Forgetting name suffixes such as Jr, II, III, etc
If you have a name suffix, use it. Hint: copy your name from your medical certificate exactly as it is.
Not entering eight digits for dates, i.e. July 9th, 1925 should be 07-09-1925 and not 7-9-1925 or 7-9-25
Dates on all FAA documents are now standardized to 8 digit format. Anything else would cause for your application to be rejected.
Not entering Height in inches, i.e. 5’8” should be 68” and weight in pounds, lbs
For this application, all the heights are in inches and the weights are in pounds. Again, you can simple copy it from your medical as is. No feet and no kilograms.
Not spelling out the color when describing hair and eyes
Can not abbreviate this area. Black is not BLK and Brown is not BRN. Use complete spelling.
Entering wrong grade of pilot certificate
Enter your current pilot certificate held – the one you are holding in your hands right now. And student pilot certificate IS a pilot certificate, at least on one side. The other side is the medical certificate. And for the CFI’s, be careful to check the expiration dates of the medical and the student pilot certificate separately.
Nationality should be the country name, i.e. India instead of Indian and China instead of Chinese
A very common mistake. Use the country name here.
Entering the wrong class of medical. It should be the class shown on the medical certificate
And the correct way is 3rd and not third.
Your Social Security Number
There are only 2 correct choices here: NONE if you do not have one, DO NOT USE if you do not want to use it on this application.
And CFI signatures, name and number should be valid one
Sign your name, in blue ink preferably, like all other professionals do on legal original documents. Write your name as it appears on your pilot and CFI certificate. And make sure that your CFI number ends with CFI, and not with CFII or MEI.
Read the Part I of this series by clicking here. This post is in continuation of the discussion in the previous one. One important document that I missed to mention in the previous post was an FAA Advisory Circular AC61-65E. This document provides additional information on how to reinstate or renew a Flight Instructor certificate, among all other pilot and instructor certificates. Refer to paragraph 24, on page 20. And here is what it says:
24. EXPIRED FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR CERTIFICATE. The requirements for holders of an expired flight instructor certificate to obtain new certificates are located in section 61.199. A practical test is required in the exchange of an expired flight instructor certificate. A DPE or an ASI will not reinstate expired flight instructor certificates unless the applicant passes a practical test.
a. The holder of an expired flight instructor certificate (i.e., a flight instructor certificate that conforms to section 61.5(c)) may exchange that certificate for a new certificate (except for a flight instructor certificate with a sport pilot rating) by passing one practical test, per section 61.183(h), for one of the aircraft ratings held on that person’s expired flight instructor certificate.
NOTE: If the practical test is for a flight instructor certificate with a sport pilot rating, the examiner may only issue that rating and provide endorsements for the category and class privileges tested.
b. Flight instructor ratings or limited flight instructor ratings on a pilot certificate are no longer valid. To reinstate instructor privileges, all requirements for initial issuance of a flight instructor certificate must be met.
Interpretation of the above, to remove any misconceptions:
- If your CFI certificate (irrespective of the ratings it holds) has expired, you HAVE TO take a practical test. End of the story.
- Since about 7-8 years now, there is no separate “oral” or “flight” test. There is only one test, and that is called the practical test. So there is NO WAY OUT of “oral” portion by taking a CFI Refresher Course (16 hours ground) or anything else.
- UNDERSTAND – Flight Instructor Ratings are different than Aircraft Ratings. :-). Some think that if they hold a CFI certificate with instrument airplane (or CFII) they can go on a simulator and simply take the CFII checkride and get their CFI reinstated. It doesn’t work that way. You can take your CFI reinstatement practical test in “one of the aircraft ratings”, that means Airplane Single Engine or Airplane Multi Engine (could be Land or Sea, but that would be a whole different topic though). This DOES NOT mean flight instructor ratings, like CFII.
- To reinstate instructor privileges, all requirements for initial issuance of a flight instructor certificate must be met.