Many Pilots cum Flight Instructors, when they move on to the airlines business end up letting their CFI certificate expire. And then down the road when a need or the passion rekindles again, they realize that it has to be reinstated. So, the question arises: How do I go about renewing or reinstating my CFI certificate? Note that this discussion is about the expired flight instructor certificates. If yours has not expired yet, then you should also read the 10 ways to renew your CFI certificate.

Here is a list of few things you need to know about the expired flight instructor certificates, and how to reinstate them (or renew them):

  • Flight Instructor certificates expire every 24 calendar months. If not renewed before the expiration date, then you have to go through reinstatement procedure.
  • To reinstate a CFI certificate (irrespective of the ratings you have on it, i.e. CFII, MEI) you have to take a checkride with either an FAA DPE or an FAA Inspector. In either case, it is a checkride with oral and flight portion.
  • Most FSDOs have authorized DPEs who can conduct your CFI reinstatement checkride and upon successful completion issue you a new temporary CFI certificate with all the ratings you originally had on it. You can try getting a “free” checkride out of the FSDO inspector, but from my experience, it is very difficult. There is a reason why they have DPEs authorized for this purpose. But your mileage may vary from FSDO to FSDO.
  • You may take most of the CFI reinstatement checkride in a non-complex aircraft, but you will still have to do the takeoffs and landings, and emergency procedures in a complex aircraft. So if you are planning to go this route, make sure you have 2 aircraft available at the time/place of the checkride, and you are ready to prove the airworthiness of both aircraft, and that you have the POHs mastered for both aircraft as well.
  • The CFI reinstatement checkride will definitely cover the VFR maneuvers, like ground reference maneuvers, emergency procedures, slow flights and stall etc. Think about it, if you are going to get your CFI certificate back, you are getting all those privileges back as well. And we want you to be safe, so use this as an opportunity to brush up and get back in shape.
  • Now, if you are missing a rating on your expired CFI certificate, for instance, instrument airplane, or multi engine, then you may want to think about getting your CFII and/or MEI rating added on. This way you won’t have to take any reinstatement checkride, and your add-on rating checkride will get you your CFI certificate reinstated.
Expired CFI - Renew or Reinstate

CFI Reinstatement or Renewal

So, what is the best way to get the CFI reinstated?

  • Go find yourself a good flight instructor or a school (like CFI Academy) and go through some ground and flight training, take your CFI reinstatement checkride and you are done! This is the fastest and easiest way.
  • Before you schedule any training session, I would recommend that you read through the latest FAR/AIM sections pertinent to the CFI checkride, Airplane Flying Handbook (back to back), Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (back to back), Fundamentals of Instruction (back to back).
  • Also, if your instrument knowledge and skills have deteriorated, might as well review the Instrument Flying Handbook and get your knowledge up to the par.
  • The 2 steps that I stated above – this will make your and your instructor’s life easy, and save you a lot of time and money. It is recommended that you take a CFI Refresher Course (not required, but very helpful) online, or at some school (16 hours) to review all the knowledge as stated above.
  • For the ones who are missing a rating on the CFI certificate, your best bet is to simply get your CFII or MEI (and in some cases your single-engine add-on) ratings. Kill 2 birds with one stone.
  • Lastly, do not let this happen to you again! Even if you are not in teaching aviation business anymore.

Refer: 14 CFR 61.183 and 14 CFR 61.199

UPDATE: I missed some additional information: so continue on to read Part II of this article by clicking here.

  • Badger Fishinski

    I hold a cfi certificate. I haven’t flown in over 5 years, but have remained recent on taking the FIRC refresher course and test. 1.) What is required for me to become an active CFI again (I hold CFII and MEII). 2.) What if I just want to become current so I can simply rent a Cessna and fly just VFR for my own personal use? What do I need to do in both scenarios?

    • To renew a CFI certificate, one has to take the FIRC, take the test, and then submit an application to the FAA (via IACRA preferably), and obtain a renewed CFI certificate. If the application process is not completed before the expiration date, then the CFI certificate is considered expired, and will require a reinstatement practical test. If you have been keeping your CFI certificate renewed, then there is really no additional minimum legal requirement to be current as far as CFI is concerned. However, the requirement of 61.56 and 61.57 has to current as well – Flight Review and takeoffs and landings in the 90 days. To simply be able to rent airplanes, 61.56 and 61.57 needs to be current; irrespective of the status of the CFI certificate.

      • Jack Brewer

        “However, the requirement of 61.56 and 61.57 has to current as well – Flight Review and takeoffs and landings in the 90 days.”

        Only for flight instruction when the CFI will be acting as pilot-in-command.

        • Yes, when the CFI will be acting as the PIC, or when the CFI is a required crew member; for example – safety pilot.

    • For you to get your CFI certificate current, you will need to take a practical test in ANY ONE of the flight instructor ratings you currently hold, OR add a new rating. In your case, you can take a practical test for CFII OR MEI, OR, add CFI single engine. In either case, the passing of the practical test will reinstate your flight instructor and all the ratings on it. This will also serve as a flight review as required by 61.56 and will get your current for the PIC privileges. If you were to simply rent, all you need is a flight review, aka, BFR.

  • Joe Krownen

    What happens if an applicant fails the ride? Are other certificates/ratings left intact? Those of us who fly for a living (corporate/airline) don’t want to risk our tickets. I’d like to instruct a little in retirement (not long to go), so I can wait, but just curious about reinstatement while I’m flying the line. Thank you.

    • Joe, you have brought up a really good point. Flight Instructor certificate is and has always been considered a stand alone and separate certificate, and passing or failing it does not effect any of the pilot certificates held. Once issued, it is only valid when accompanied by the pilot certificate, however, while teaching, you are exercising the privileges of your CFI certificate and NOT you pilot certificate. This is essentially why only a 3rd class max medical is required.

    • You’ve brought up a very good point Joe. Flight Instructor certificate is a stand alone and separate certificate and is NOT a pilot certificate. Passing, or failing a practical test for a CFI certificate or rating has no effect on your pilot certificate. Even while exercising the privileges of your CFI certificate, you are not operating commercially, hence maximum ever needed will be a class 3 medical. Losing or letting the CFI lapse, again has no effect on pilot certificate, which is what happens all the time when pilots start working for the airlines.

      • Joe Krownen