This training prepares a pilot to become certified to teach other pilot certificate applicants, conduct recurrent flights or flight reviews, teach ground school, conduct club or insurance aircraft checkouts, or transition training flights for other aircraft. This is often one of the first flying jobs pursued by those aspiring to be professional pilots. Flight instructors are not only highly skilled and knowledgeable pilots, they must also enjoy and be successful at helping many different types of people learn how to fly. They must also complete recurrent training every 2 years to retain certification as an instructor.
An applicant for a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) certificate must be at least 18 years of age, and able to read, speak, write, and understand English. The pilot must hold either a commercial pilot certificate or airline transport certificate and at least a 3rd class medical (in most cases) to fly as an instructor pilot.
Teaching flying can be a very rewarding career, and includes many diverse challenges requiring a high level of piloting skills, knowledge and the ability to clearly communicate with students, all the while upholding utmost professionalism. Being a CFI enhances a pilot’s ability to communicate and work effectively with others. In the line of teaching, CFIs also tend to solidify and expand their own knowledge and flying skills through the processes of lesson preparation and teaching. For these reasons, many professional employers prefer hiring pilots who have at least some time as CFIs. Being a CFI is very rewarding, and also carries a great deal of responsibility; the instructor will personally have a great impact on the proficiency and safety of the pilots they train, and the future of aviation in general.
Like other certificates and ratings, CFI training involves ground training and flight training. Many pilots choose to do a combination of self-study and ground lessons with an authorized instructor for the knowledge portion, which will prepare them for the two required written exams: the Fundamentals of Instruction (FOI), and the CFI Airman Knowledge Test. Ground study will extensively cover topics such as professionalism, the learning process, lesson planning, and aeronautical knowledge areas for student pilots.
Beyond the hours required for a commercial certificate, there is not a specified number of hours required to become a CFI. However, most pilots need at least 10 hours at minimum to become both proficient at flying and teaching required maneuvers from the right seat. An applicant must also complete and receive an endorsement for spin recovery training from an authorized instructor.
Desert Flying Club has several aircraft available for flight training, including Cessna 172, Cessna 177, Diamond DA-40 (with Garmin G1000), Piper Archer, Piper Comanche (complex aircraft), and Beechcraft Musketeer. Instrument-equipped aircraft are also available for CFII training, and a Beechcraft Baron is available for MEI training.
Like other certificates and ratings, the time for completion depends highly on the student. The most time-consuming portion of CFI training tends to be preparing and practicing teaching lesson plans, studying for the Fundamentals of Instruction and Certified Flight Instructor Knowledge Exams, and preparing for the oral exam. The CFI practical test is among the most challenging of the check rides for pilots, because of the high degree of mastery required and responsibility it affords. Applicants may take anywhere from several weeks to several months to prepare. Most applicants need approximately 10-20 hours of flight time to become adjusted to flying and teaching from the right seat, and twenty or more ground hours to prepare for the oral exam.
Like other certificates and ratings, training cost depends on the individual pilot. Here is a breakdown of estimated expenses for the Certified Flight Instructor training.
|Based on 6 months:|
|Flying club dues||$55 x 2||$110|
|Aircraft Rental – Cessna 172||$140/hr x 10 hours||$1400|
|Instructor flight training||$85/hr x 10 hours||$850|
|Instructor ground training||$65/hr x 20 hours||$1300|
|Online Ground School||$110|
|Written Exam Fee||$300|
|Supplies, Charts, books||$200|
|Check ride examiner fee||$1600|
|Check ride plane rental||$140/hr x 2 hours||$280|