I have been wanting to write about some of the most determined and focused students that I have ever had in my career as a Flight Instructor teaching new CFI applicants for a while now. There are many, but I have to start off somewhere. So this is the first one of the series. Yohan Bathiya. Yohan is a senior first officer with American Eagle Airlines. He is originally from Sri Lanka.
I came across Yohan back in 1998-1999. He was a student at a flight school that I used to work for; Wings International. I was a newly certified flight instructor at the time, but was teaching/mentoring other new flight instructors as well. Yohan’s instructor was Anura Mundanayake, also from the same country. As this post is about Yohan, and not Anura, so let’s continue on talking about Yohan here.
One thing that we all have to understand here is that I know a lot more than I can share here. There are privacy policies, common courtesies, and things of that nature. So, please bear with me, and try to read between the lines and connect the dots yourself.
Yohan, like many others, had a dream, and a lot of determination. I remember the glow in his eyes every time I ran across him, and that was just about every single morning. He had no clue about the path, or the journey, but he very much knew what his destination was…to be an airline pilot, no matter what it takes!
And guess what, he did everything that it took to achieve that dream of his. I remember, Yohan used to show up sometimes in the evening with a pizza at my flight school, the occasional “free” pizza bonus that pizza delivery guys get every now and then. The thing to note here is that he would bring his free pizza in to share with his instructors, friends, and future students! Well, he didn’t have to…but he did.
And then Yohan went through a lot more, but he kept his focus and continued on with his persistence, and determination. 10 years later, he is a senior first officer with American Eagle, is a US citizen and has traveled half of the countries in the world. Am I proud of him, heck yea! How about his parents, his siblings, his instructors, and his students? Of course they all are.
As a matter of fact, Yohan’s students are the ones who are the most proud of him. Dave Tillet is one! And then there are dozens more that I know of.
Guys, the deal is that if you want it bad enough, you can have it. This is how the aviation works, and always has. How bad you want it is the key. Yohan went from Student Pilot to an Airline Pilot in 5 years, and that is quite an achievement, at least in my books!
Eventually, Yohan did his CFI, CFII and MEI with me, and then ended up working for me as a Flight Instructor for a while, and he was a great asset to my company as he is now for his present employer. He knew that he had to give before he takes!
The certification of a Ground Instructor is governed by 14 CFR 61.215. There are 3 ratings you can have on a Ground Instructor certificate;
Basic – Basic Ground Instructor or BGI authorizes the certificate holder to teach the ground school or aeronautical portion of a sport pilot, recreational pilot and a private pilot course.
Advanced – Advanced Ground Instructor or AGIauthorizes the certificate holder to teach the ground school or aeronautical portion of:
all pilot certificate courses; i.e all courses listed for BGI above, plus commercial pilot and airline transport pilot course;
flight instructor single and multi engine course;
other specialized or custom pilot training courses, like CFI refresher course, FAA Wings Program course, etc.
Instrument – Instrument Ground Instructor or IGIauthorizes the certificate holder to teach the ground school or aeronautical knowledge portion of an instrument rating course, flight instructor instrument airplane rating course, etc.
A Ground Instructor can also
teach certain other courses’ ground or aeronautical knowledge portions, like Flight Review, Instrument Proficiency, Add-on category or class ratings, aviation safety seminars (to be able to get the credits towards the Wings Program).
be the chief ground instructor of a FAR part 141 approved course appropriate to the ground instructor certificate and rating(s) held.
provide logbook endorsements to recommend an applicant for a FAA pilot and/or instructor knowledge test.
prepare, administer, and evaluate a pre-solo written exam.
Procedure to obtain Ground Instructor Certificate
Pass the FAA Fundamentals of Instruction (FOI) written exam.
Pass the appropriate (BGI, AGI, IGI) knowledge exam.
Setup an appointment with the local FSDO, hand the inspector over the results of the above two exams, and in exchange receive your Ground Instructor certificate.
Additional Information and Recommendations
If you are not a pilot certificate holder, and planning to get your Ground Instructor certificate, we suggest that you receive proper training with CFI Academy (or another instructor or school); even though there is no requirement to do so.
The reason for # 1 above is: teaching aviation ground school or aeronautical knowledge at any level demands thorough understanding of the subject matter, and lives depend on it.
You will have a better chance at convincing a prospective employer to hire you as a ground instructor if you can show the proper documented training records, Especially if you do not have any other aviation instructor background.
If you are coming out of the military, and you have aviation instructor background in the military (pilot, navigator, engineer, etc), then this is something that can get you hired in the civil aviation training industry immediately. However, training recommended in # 1 should still be considered.
Review the Limitations of the Ground Instructor in the FARs (there is no expiration of the certificate, but there are rules about currency etc).
This article here explains the differences between the privileges and limitations of a FAA Flight Instructor and a FAA Ground Instructor Certificate, and 10 reasons why you should get your Advanced Ground Instructor (AGI) certificate along with your CFI initial certificate.
Flight Instructor Certificate
A flight instructor certificate is needed when one needs to teach another pilot applicant the flight maneuvers (flight training) or the aeronautical knowledge (ground training) for the issue of a pilot certificate. In other words, a Flight Instructor certificate holder is authorized to teach both the flight and the ground portion of a pilot training course.
Ground Instructor Certificate
A ground instructor certificate is needed when one needs to teach in a pilot training course only the ground portion of the course, i.e. aeronautical knowledge portion only. No flight training at all, period.
If I can teach both the flight and the ground portion of a pilot training course with a CFI certificate, then why do I need to have a separate ground instructor certificate?
I have always recommended that when you are working on getting your CFI certificate, might as well get your ground instructor certificate as well. It’s just a matter of taking one extra written exam (knowledge exam), which is about $100 extra cost and that is it! Here are TEN reasons why I recommend it:
Adds extra credentials to your professional pilot CV. One extra FAA certificate in the list of your pilot qualifications looks better, and reflects better authority, professionalism, and dedication towards your profession.
Does not have any expiration date. CFI certificate expires every 24 calendar months. And many a times, during your career progress you may not be able to renew it in time. The reasons are as varied as one can imagine. Too busy flying for the airline, too busy getting marital life together, was out of country, completely forgot, medical reasons….and so on. If you have a ground instructor certificate, you can still teach the ground portion while you are working towards getting your CFI certificate renewed.
Does not need a medical certificate. Foresightedness is wisdom. And planning for the old age, or simply the rough times is a smart thing to do. Imagine if there is ever a time where you are not able to renew your pilot certificate (yes, CFI certificate does not require a medical, but a pilot certificate does, and the CFI certificate is only valid when accompanied by a pilot certificate) due to medical reasons, you may not be able to exercise the privileges of your CFI certificate, but the ground instructor certificate will still be valid.
Is required for a gold seal instructor award. If you ever want to qualify for the FAA gold seal instructor (who wouldn’t) award, then a ground instructor certificate is a requirement, and not an option.
Reduces liability and risk. In today’s world we have to think and manage the liability issues as well. Right now you may be young with no assets and probably with thousands of dollars worth student loans. But things are not going to stay the same throughout your life. Down the road, if you ever teach someone just the ground portion of the training, use your ground instructor certificate (especially when signing off the FAA written exams) for the signoffs and endorsements. In case anything ever comes back to haunt you, it will be your ground instructor certificate at the risk of being suspended or revoked by the FAA, and not your CFI certificate.
NAFI Master CFI and Master Ground Instructor. NAFI recognizes both the flight instructor and the ground instructor as Master Instructors. When you are working on getting one, might as well get the other too. In most cases, if planned ahead of time, you should be able to qualify for both with not much extra effort. Now you could be a dual Master Instructor! Imagine that!
IGI can teach on Simulator
Simulator Instructor job requires IGI. Simulator based training is getting more and more mainstream way of training pilots nowadays. To the point, that even the basic training of the pilots is shifting towards heavier usage of the simulators. And there are many jobs available, from basic to type rating instructors which can be yours, and here again for the reasons mentioned in # 5 above, you can use your Instrument Ground Instructor (IGI) certificate, and spare your CFI from unnecessary exposure.
It’s easier to get it now than later. Let’s say you did not get your AGI certificate now, and later on down your career path you decide, or are forced by one of the circumstances stated above to get one; at that time it won’t be simply a matter of extra $100 expense. You will have to sit and review the entire FIA / AGI FAA question bank all over again to get prepared.
It’s cheap, easy and effortless. When you take your knowledge exam for the CFI course (the FIA – Flight Instructor Airplane), at the same time (and right after the FIA exam) take your Advanced Ground Instructor (AGI) exam as well. No extra preparation is required (same question bank). Just pay the CATS or LaserGrade testing center extra $100 or so for the extra exam and that’s it. And take the results of the FOI and AGI to the local FAA FSDO and get your Advanced Ground Instructor certificate.
Doesn’t require any other pilot certificate. To be a ground instructor, there is no eligibility requirement to hold any pilot certificate. That means, you can be a ground instructor even before you get your student pilot certificate. So, if you have a passion for aviation, and want to master the art of learning and then teaching aviation, and possibly even get yourself an employment (and source of funding) in aviation industry, you may want to become a ground instructor.