10 Ways to Renew you CFI

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.

10 way to renew CFI
Renew your CFI

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 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 renwal 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 can also be used to renew a CFI certificate once in a life time.
Earn or renew Master CFI designation – Earning or renewing a Master CFI designation (there are 2 different programs for this) can also be used 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. FAA FAASTeam (Safety Team) Manager in your FSDO should be contacted and consulted.
First published in 2003 by Robert Jex, CFI

Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist, who published his book “Motivation and Personality” in 1954. One extraordinary thing about him, his book, and his study – he studied the top 1% of the creame-de-creame, like Albert Einstein, and not just the general population. His hierarchy, or graph of human needs, is tremendously important for us to understand, digest, and most importantly, put to work.
Humans are interesting “animals”. Our needs never really end. And all of us experience different kinds of needs at various parts of our lives. However, look at the bottom of this pyramid; those are the primary needs. Unless those needs are fulfilled, nothing else (including Facebook ;-)) matters. However, as soon as those needs are fulfilled, next levels kick in.
How this important for a Flight Instructor? Well, any CFI is a psychologist first. Understanding the psychological behavior, and needs of your flight training students can empower you with an extremely effective tool, which can help with the transfer of knowledge from you to them. Individual evaluation of each student, their background, educational and life experiences, and goals and objectives can make a difference. During your training here at CFI Academy, your instructor will discuss and train you in this area. Remember, doing your CFI training with us is not simply to pass the checkride, but to get you ready for the real world of flight training.

Spin or No Spin for CFI initial Re-test

I have been meaning to write about this topic for a while now. Even though I think about Stall/Spin instructional proficiency each time I am teaching and signing off a new CFI initial applicant, but these 2 incidents below still intrigue me, and make me wonder which one was a correct interpretation of the FARs:
In late 90’s when I got my CFI initial, I failed Turning Power ON Stall in-flight maneuver. Not going into details of why I failed; I had to go up with the FSDO inspector in a Cessna 152 aircraft to demonstrate instructional proficiency in Stalls and Spins, as required by 14 CFR 61.183 (i)(2).
In early 2000’s I had a student who was not able to satisfactorily teach spins on the ground to another FSDO inspector (different FSDO). I think he did a fine job, but at the end of the day, the inspector was not satisfied, so the applicant failed in the Stall and Spin area. I gave additional training to the applicant, and flew with him as well, and sent him to the inspector for an in-flight spin test. The inspector refused to do the test in the airplane, and said that he can test the applicant on the ground and does not need to fly and observe in-flight spin entry/recovery etc.
Here is the excerpt from the relevant FAR (14 CFR 61.183):
“Demonstrate instructional proficiency in stall awareness, spin entry, spins, and spin recovery procedures. However, upon presentation of the endorsement specified in paragraph (i)(1) of this section an examiner may accept that endorsement as satisfactory evidence of instructional proficiency in stall awareness, spin entry, spins, and spin recovery procedures for the practical test, provided that the practical test is not a retest as a result of the applicant failing the previous test for deficiencies in the knowledge or skill of stall awareness, spin entry, spins, or spin recovery instructional procedures. If the retest is a result of deficiencies in the ability of an applicant to demonstrate knowledge or skill of stall awareness, spin entry, spins, or spin recovery instructional procedures, the examiner must test the person on stall awareness, spin entry, spins, and spin recovery instructional procedures in an airplane or glider, as appropriate, that is certificated for spins;”
The first FSDO’s interpretation was that the applicant has to be tested, and the test has to be in an airplane that is certificated for spins, and the “as appropriate” in the FAR is there as a distinction between an airplane or a glider. The second FSDO’s interpretation was that the test can be done either in an aircraft, or on the ground, and the “as appropriate” is there to give the inspector/dpe that discretion.
Personally, I believe that the first FSDO’s interpretation is correct. And here is some more information about Spin Training for CFI initial Training and Checkride.

Multi Engine Checkrides – DPE not required type specific LOA

Until recently, we used to have this one problem that was a nightmare to deal with. A student would show up with his/her own multi engine airplane and would ask us to train in their airplane for the CFI, CFII or MEI, or even a commercial/flight instructor combination course. In any case, the training had to be conducted in the applicant’s own multi engine airplane.
The training was never an issue. As a flight instructor with a multi engine rating, we are authorized to teach in any make/model if a light twin airplane, provided we have at least 5 hours PIC time in that make/model of airplane. With so many years of teaching in various airplanes, we usually have just about all the light twin airplanes in our logbooks, with 5 hours minimum under the PIC column. And every now and then, if a new one shows up anyways, nothing to worry. We are always so excited to learn and fly another “new” light twin anyways.
The problem that’d show up was, not being able to find a DPE who would have a Letter of Authorization (LOA) from the FAA to conduct a checkride in that make/model. Now, we’d just be stuck at the mercy of the local FSDO to schedule a ride with one of their inspectors (and with the current short staffed situation), which could be as long as a month or more in the future!
The DPEs had to obtain an LOA for each make/model; by demonstrating their skills to an FAA inspector in flight, in each make/model of light twin they wanted to conduct a checkride in. And then do an annual proficiency check in each make/model (on a rotating schedule) with the FAA. This process would discourage DPEs from having more than 2 or 3 makes/models on their LOA at any given time.
Now, their LOA allows then to conduct a checkride in ALL light twins! At last the issue is rest to peace, and the lawmakers have realized that they can look elsewhere to prevent accidents and increase safety.

CFI to teach in a Sea Plane

So what does it take for a Flight Instructor (CFI) to teach in a sea plane or amphibious airplane? Is there any special or additional training requirements? Any CFI certificate endorsement required?
The answer is simple; you are allowed to teach in any single engine airplane for which you hold pilot privileges. Your CFI certificate says – “Airplane Single Engine”. Your pilot certificate (commercial pilot) reads – “Airplane single engine land, Airplane single engine sea”. In this case you can teach in both the land and sea single engine airplanes.

Piper Cub on Floats
In other words, if you already hold a commercial pilot and a flight instructor (CFI) certificate, and you go get a single engine sea add-on rating on your commercial pilot certificate, you are authorized to teach in a sea plane or an amphibious airplane.

Foreign Flight Instructor conversion to FAA CFI

Foreign Flight Instructor

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.

What is an Accelerated CFI Training Course

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 towards one 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.

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.

Student or CFI 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.

The Objectives

Just to clarify something here with you, there are in fact 2 different objectives of the accelerated CFI training program:

  1. Achieve the aeronautical knowledge and skill levels prescribed for the issuance of an FAA Flight Instructor Certificate (FARs and PTS).
  2. And do all this as quickly as humanly possible.

If it were not an accelerated program, then there would be just one objective, the # 1 above. So, now you may realize that an accelerated CFI training program is in fact dual objective, thereby demands commitment from everyone involved, and deliberate effort.

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). 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.

12 Most Common Mistakes on FAA 8710 form

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.

Can I take my initial CFI as a CFII


I have heard that I can be a CFII without getting my CFI. Is this possible?


Yes you can be a CFII without getting your CFI. In other words, you can be a certified flight instructor with an instrument airplane rating and not airplane single and/or multi-engine rating.

Remember, Certified (certificated) flight instructor or CFI is a certificate, with the following possible Ratings:

Airplane single engine and/or multi-engine

Instrument Airplane

Your Flight Instructor certificate, if taken as a CFII as initial issue, will indicate as:

Flight Instructor Instrument Airplane


You will be limited to teaching only Instrument maneuvers, and instrument rating students. As the flight instructor rating is Instrument Airplane, so you are allowed to teach either in a single or a multi-engine airplane, but that is a whole separate discussion, and we will do so in a different post.


To obtain your CFII as an initial CFI certificate/rating, you will need to accomplish everything required for the CFII rating plus FOI. The FOI knowledge exam has to be passed, and during the checkride you will need to meet the FOI knowledge requirements just the same as a normal CFI initial applicant.

How about if I want to add airplane single and/or multi-engine rating later

Sure you can do so. Just skip the FOI portion and be prepared with the rest of the CFI airplane SE or ME PTS.

Can Flight Instructor (CFI) checkride be considered as Flight Review?

We know that all pilots are required to go through a Flight Review each 24 calendar months as required by 14 CFR 61.56 . The paragraph (d) of this regulation states:

“A person who has, within the period specified in paragraph (c) of this section, passed a pilot proficiency check conducted by an examiner, an approved pilot check airman, or a U.S. Armed Force, for a pilot certificate, rating, or operating privilege need not accomplish the flight review required by this section.”

So, whenever in the past you have taken any checkride, for instance, Instrument Rating add-on checkride, or Commercial Pilot checkride, or Multi add-on and so forth, each time your 24 month Flight Review clock was reset. Because the paragraph (d) above says so.

The question now is that whether the same will happen when you take your CFI checkride (or any flight instructor add-on rating checkride) or not. The answer is NO. It is no because:

  • the regulation says, “….passed a pilot proficiency check….”, and the flight instructor certificate is NOT a pilot certificate.
  • the regulation also says, “….for a pilot certificate, rating, or operating privilege…”, and once again, flight instructor certificate is not a pilot certificate, and CFII and MEI are not pilot certificate ratings.
  • the flight instructor or CFI checkride does not measure your piloting skills or knowledge, rather, it is an evaluation of your teaching skills.

And you’d like to hear it directly from the FAA, click here and read it for yourself. This is copy of the FAA interpretation of the 14 CFR 61.56(d), by their legal department. And here is the excerpt for a quick read:

“The answer is that a successful completion of a flight instructor practical test within the preceding 24 calendar months does not automatically relieve a pilot of the requirement to complete §61.56 flight review. A flight instructor practical test is not a pilot proficiency check for a pilot certificate, rating or an operating privilege, or any other acceptable substitute for a flight review specifically listed in § 61.56(d). A flight instructor practical test is not primarily focused on piloting skills but rather on one’s instructional skills. Thus, prima facie, it does not constitute a pilot proficiency check adequate to substitute for a flight review, as specified under § 61.56(d).”

However, if you request the DPE or the FAA inspector taking your CFI, CFII or MEI checkride, and specifically come to an agreement before the start of your checkride, in that case, with a logbook endorsement you may still get your Flight Review (or as was known as BFR) requirement taken care of.