CFI checkride now counts as flight review

After years of discussion, the FAA issued a new rule Sept. 16 allowing CFI practical exams to count as flight reviews (14 CFR 61.56). The rule reverses an earlier decision and has the potential to save flight instructors time and money meeting currency requirements.

The change allows pilots passing the CFI checkride for the first time, as well as those passing a practical test to add a rating to their flight instructor certificate, renew their certificate, or reinstate an expired certificate, to also count that as their flight review.

CFI Reinstatement is a BFR
CFI Checkride is a Flight Review

AOPA asked the FAA to issue a new rule after 2008 legal guidance stated that the CFI practical exam did not qualify as an exception to the requirement for a flight review because the exam is not a “pilot proficiency check.” AOPA and others disputed that interpretation as nonsensical.

The new rule states that “although a flight instructor practical test is chiefly focused on the pilot’s instructional skills, a pilot must demonstrate satisfactory performance of the procedures and maneuvers selected by the examiner—at least to the commercial pilot skill level—while giving effective instruction. Therefore, the flight instructor practical test standards require the applicant to demonstrate not only the knowledge but also the skill required of pilots completing the practical tests that the FAA instructor is authorized to teach.”

“We’re pleased that the FAA took another look at this interpretation and took corrective action with its new rule,” said David Oord, AOPA manager of regulatory affairs. “This decision makes sense and relieves CFIs of the time and expense of taking a flight review in addition to a checkride. We’ll keep working with the FAA to identify and clean up regulations that just don’t make sense in the real world.”
The new rule takes effect Nov. 15.

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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.