CFI Expired? How to Reinstate it?

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.

Expired Flight Instructor
Expired CFI

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.

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

  • Go find yourself a good flight instructor or a school  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

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32 Responses

  1. 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?

    1. 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.

      1. “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.

  2. 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?

    1. 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.

      1. “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.

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. My CFI lapsed long ago. I am holder of an ATP and a Part 121 airline pilot and a current Line Check Airman for my fleet. Can my CFI be re-instated based on my experience As a Line Check Airman?

        1. Hello Mike. You posed a great question. There is a provision for CFI renewal based on “job duties”. But I have never come across a scenario where anyone was able to get the CFI Reinstatement done this way. The best approach would be to call your own POI at the FSDO office and ask them. You never know – as one of the provision is – any other method acceptable to the administrator. Please share your findings, would you, please? :-). All the best.

  4. 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.

    1. 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.

  5. My CFI certificate has expired. Even though I can’t act as a flight instructor, am I still a CFI? or only a commercial pilot license holder? Thank you!

    1. HI Mark. Yes you are still a flight instructor certificate holder and to reinstate it, you do not need to go through the entire checkride again. There is no written exam required, and the checkride will be an abbreviated one.

  6. I too have let my CFI expired, but I’m current and can rent airplanes at my flying club. Two questions: 1. you state, “To reinstate a CFI certificate… it is a checkride with oral and flight portion.” Is it an abbreviated oral and flight checkride as you replied to Mark on 10/18 or will it be like my initial checkride when I first earned my CFI? 2. Although my CFI certificate is expired, can I still count flight time and landings if I go flying with a friend? Thanks for all your help.

    1. Hello Sam. The checkride for reinstatement is a free game and the FAA let’s the DPE giving the checkride decide what all they want to test. This means, technically if the DPE wants to test on all the CFI ratings you held before expiration, so be it. But in most cases, it is abbreviated checkride. Also, there is no training requirements, nor a requirement for a recommendation (endorsements) from another instructor. Discussing your case with the prospective DPE would be good. In our case, we have relationships built over time, so we train based upon the recommendations from the DPE who would be conducting the test.
      For your 2nd question, the answer is no. Not till you get your CFI reinstated.

  7. I unfortunately allowed my cfi to expire as well and want to get it back. Do you know if I can take the ride in a light sport airplane?

  8. I let my Rotorcraft Helicopter CFI expire but am planning to so a SEL add on. If I take the CFI checkride in a FW, will I be able to teach again in RW?

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  10. Hello there. I am one of the guys who let their CFI expire. I have an MEII. From what I have heard, I can renew the certificate with a check ride in a single engine airplane, as long as it is complex? Hopefully?? Also, I have renewed with you all many times. Is it required to do your renewal before the check ride, or just a good idea. Thank you very much.

    1. Hi Mike. You are correct about the renewal process – you will need to take a checkride, and it can be on a single engine (ASE add on). And it does not have to be a complex airplane. Any single engine would do. FIRC – the Flight Instructor Refresher Course is not required, and not needed if you are planning to come here with us for reinstatement. Hope this answers your questions.

  11. I have found this thread to be extremely helpful in my quest to renew my Flight Instructor rating. Prince Singh, thanks you for all of your guidance.

    Mark A. Heaton
    Recently retired UPS MD-11 Captain
    US Marine KC-130 & US ARMY C-12V Pilot (retired)

    1. I am very happy to hear this Mark. I wish you all the best, and appreciate that you are getting ready to share your experience with the rest of us. Thank YOU.

  12. Hi, I have lapsed CFI, CFII, MEI and CFIG ratings. Am I right in thinking that if I just renew my glider CFI that will renew all the other ones automatically with no powered aircraft flying required?

    1. Yes Chris, your understanding is correct. Renewing any one of the category/class on your Flight Instructor certificate will renew all.

  13. I understand adding a rating gets your CFI reinstated, does adding an advanced ground or instrument ground instructor rating reinstate the original CFI.

    1. Hello Miles. No it does not. Has to involve a practical test. Adding additional categories will – for example, glider, helicopter etc

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