Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI)

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About the Flight Instructor (CFI) Certificate

FAA Certificated Flight Instructors (CFIs) play a critical role in aviation safety. They teach new pilots to fly as well as help current pilots maintain or advance their skills. Flight instructors are authorized within the limitations of their flight instructor certificate and ratings to train and issue endorsements that are required for:

  • Student pilot certificates
  • Pilot certificates
  • Flight instructor certificates
  • Ground instructor certificates
  • Aircraft ratings
  • Instrument ratings
  • Flight reviews, operating privileges, or recency of experience requirements
  • Practical tests
  • Knowledge tests

Flight instructor training has two main goals: ensure the candidate has solid knowledge and flight proficiency, and ensure the candidate knows how to teach.

Flight instructors are eligible to get paid for their services. Flight instructors find employment with local flight schools, colleges and universities, flight academies, the military, or self-employment. Some work full-time while others work part-time, often on a flexible schedule.

Flight Instructor Ground Training

CFI candidates are expected to have a wealth of knowledge. During training, candidates review knowledge subject areas for the private and commercial pilot certificates.

The FAA requires CFI candidates to learn the fundamentals of instruction. Candidates must be familiiar with topics such as teaching methods, human needs, types of learners, lesson planning, and evaluation. Candidates will practice applying the fundamentals of instruction during simulated ground training lessons and flight lessons.

Prior to the flight instructor practical test, CFI candidates need to prepare or have access to detailed lesson plans for any private or commercial pilot topic, and need to be prepared to simulate teaching the subject.

You may accomplish the ground training requirements for the flight instructor certificate through one-on-one ground instruction, a home study course, a ground school class, or a combination of the above. In-person training is more important with the flight instructor certificate than with any other certificate or rating, because you will benefit from practicing teaching simulated or real students.

More than with any other certificate or rating, CFI candidates need to use and be familiar with several official FAA publications. Jet Air Group offers both FAA materials and supplemental materials from other vendors that will help you in flight instructor training.

Flight Instructor Flight Training

In flight training, CFI candidates learn to fly maneuvers from the instructor’s seat, which may be awkward at first after many hours spent in the pilot’s seat. Candidates practice flying and explaining maneuvers. Then they allow their instructor to simulate being a student, and they must recognize and correct errors.

CFI candidates who are current and proficient pilots will have an advantage in training. Less time will need to be spent on polishing flight skills and knowledge, so training will progress more quickly. CFI candidates are expected to meet at least commercial pilot flying standards.

An initial flight instructor certificate may be earned in either a single-engine or multiengine aircraft. The traditional route is to take training in a single-engine aircraft.

Flight instructor certificate training requirements are outlined in the FAA regulations. Jet Air conducts flight instructor training under Part 61 of the regulations.

Eligibility for a Flight Instructor Certificate:

To be eligible for a flight instructor certificate or rating a person must:

  1. Be at least 18 years of age
  2. Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language. If the applicant is unable to meet one of these requirements due to medical reasons, then the FAA may issue a certificate with operating limitations
  3. Hold either a commercial pilot certificate or airline transport pilot certificate with appropriate aircraft category and class rating
  4. Receive a logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor on the fundamentals of instructing
  5. Pass the fundamentals of instruction knowledge test (unless the candidate is already a flight or ground instructor, or teaches at the level of 7th grade or higher)
  6. Pass the flight instructor aeronautical knowledge test
  7. Receive a logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor on the flight proficiency areas of operation
  8. Pass the required practical test
  9. Receive a logbook endorsement for training and proficiency in spins, or demonstrate proficiency during the pracitcal test
  10. Log at least 15 hours as pilot in command in the category and class of aircraft that is appropriate to the flight instructor rating sought
  11. Comply with the appropriate sections of Part 61 that apply to the flight instructor rating sought

(See 14 CFR Part 61.183 for complete details)

Required Aeronautical Knowledge:

You must receive and log ground training from an authorized instructor on the following aeronautical knowledge areas:

1. The fundamentals of instructing (unless the candidate is already a flight/ground instructor or teacher as outlined in 14 CFR 61.185), including:

  • The learning process
  • Elements of effective teaching
  • Student evaluation and testing
  • Course development
  • Lesson planning
  • Classroom training techniques

2. The aeronautical knowledge areas for a recreational, private, and commercial pilot certificate applicable to the aircraft category for which flight instructor privileges are sought

Required Flight Proficiency (single-engine):

You must receive and log ground and flight training from an authorized instructor that includes the following areas of operation:

  1. Fundamentals of instructing
  2. Technical subject areas
  3. Preflight preparation
  4. Preflight lesson on a maneuver to be performed in flight
  5. Preflight procedures
  6. Airport and seaplane base operations
  7. Takeoffs, landings, and go-arounds
  8. Fundamentals of flight
  9. Performance maneuvers
  10. Ground reference maneuvers
  11. Slow flight, stalls, and spins
  12. Basic instrument maneuvers
  13. Emergency operations
  14. Postflight procedures

Required Aeronautical Experience:

There are no specific flight experience requirements for flight instructors. Flight instructors must meet the proficiency standards above. The only time requirement is that a CFI candidate needs at least 15 hours of pilot-in-command time in the category and class of aircraft appropriate to the flight instructor certificate and rating sought.

Flight instructors must already possess a commercial or airline transport pilot certificate, so those certificates serve as a baseline for flight experience requirements.

Completion time varies based on how often you train, how quickly you learn, how well you study at home, etc. We recommend you schedule at least one session per week, with two or three being more ideal for making steady progress and completing the program in fewer hours.

Overall Cost of Flight Instructor Training

Each customer is unique, so overall cost of earning a flight instructor certificate will vary. Training cost is directly tied to completion time because instruction and aircraft rental are billed by the hour. Jet Air Group does not offer fixed-price “guaranteed” training programs.

Including flight training, ground training, aircraft rental, books, supplies, and tests, you should budget at least $6,000 to $8,000 to earn a flight instructor certificate. Several companies and organizations offer flight training scholarships. Financing is available to qualified customers through Pilot Finance. Students enrolled in the aviation program at Lakeland College may be eligible for financial aid.

How to Get Started in Flight Instructor Training

You can start earning your initial flight instructor certificate with Jet Air Group as soon as it’s convenient for you. Please contact us if you’d like to make an appointment to meet an instructor and take a tour. We can help you obtain training materials and set up a schedule. Getting started is easy – all you have to do is give us a call at 920-494-2669 in Green Bay or 920-467-2303 in Sheboygan.