What is a CFI? | Your FAQs Answered

November 3rd, 2021

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The COVID-19 pandemic of March 2020 halted the Aviation Industry abruptly. Flight training, commercial, and freight operations suffered for an extended amount of time. Flight schools shut down, Airlines stopped hiring and started furloughing, and recreational / business travel evaporated almost immediately. As the economy begins to slowly reopen and travel restrictions begin to loosen, airlines will begin to pick up where they left off. The only difference now is that there are new cards to be played within the hands of the industry.

 

Forward-looking projections indicate that the flight traveling demand curve will begin to increase as the economy recovers. This will only exponentially increase with time. Pilots will be needed for commercial and freight operations expected over a large number of years.

 

The Flight schools that were able to adapt successfully during the time of COVID-19 were able to distinguish and differentiate themselves by providing products, and or services tailored to a distant online student. This included virtual classes, online courses, and other digital products a student could easily be granted access to. General aviation has a whole was forced to pivot towards a more digital, online friendly, training experience to stay relevant. By doing so, flight schools that adapted quickly were able to help continue their student's progression, save cost, and efforts towards individuals undergoing CFI Training. The leader in the industry, CFI Bootcamp was the first to successfully adapt and demonstrate that it was possible to administer world-class, virtual CFI Training safely, effectively, and efficiently.

What is a CFI?

 

A CFI is a Certified Flight Instructor. This certificate will give you the right to instruct, mentor, and guide people into starting or furthering their flight training. By holding the credential of a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI), you can teach and endorse people to solo, take a knowledge or practical test among other things. To be able to do this, the technical subject areas that are required need to be understood to the FAA standard.

 

CFIs are the professors of the industry that oversee student and other pilots that will be teaching flying while also building time. In order to get your CFI certificate you need to hold either a Commercial Pilot Certificate with an Instrument Rating, or an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate.

Part 61 requirements.

  1. Receive and log ground training on the Fundamentals of Instructing, and the Aeronautical Knowledge Areas for Recreational, Private and Commercial Pilots.

  2. Take and pass a knowledge test for the Fundamentals of Instructing (FOI) and Flight Instructor Airplane (FIA).

  3. Receive and log flight training from an Authorized Instructor per 61.19.

  4. Take and pass a practical test (Checkride).

  5. NOTE: Training must be received by a CFI who has held their certificate for at least 2 years and has given at least 200 hours of flight instruction (There are a few exceptions, but they are not widely used).

Part 141 requirements.

  1. 40 hours of ground training in an FAA Flight Instructor approved course.

  2. 25 hours of flight training in an FAA Flight Instructor approved course.

  3. Take and pass a knowledge test for the Fundamentals of Instructing (FOI) and Flight Instructor Airplane (FIA).

  4. Take and pass a practical test (Checkride).

How much does CFI Training Cost?

 

This varies widely by location and school.Individual accelerated instruction typically starts at 85/hr. to 105/hr. Assuming you have recently completed the commercial rating, and are starting CFI training quickly, you can expect the following. First complete an Online CFI Course of 24 hours that cost $1,200. Second attend a 7-day immersion ground school that cost $850. Third complete 10-15 hours of flight training in the right seat for about $3,675. Fourth complete spin training and receive an endorsement for about $350. Finally, receive about 8-10 hours of ground training for pre and post flight briefings and oral preparation, which cost $850.

How many hours does it take to become a CFI? 

 

This depends upon the pace of training, experience of the student and the instructor. For an average student it takes about 15 hours of flight instruction, 3 hours of spin training, 100 hours of self-study or online courses, 7-days of classroom training, and about 10 hours of one-to-one instruction. You’ll need to have at least a Commercial Pilot Certificate with an instrument rating which usually adds up to 250 or so hours of total flight time for those ratings. The variable are: Recent time in a piston general aviation airplane without the use of an autopilot. Proficiency flying from the right seat. Proficiency flying the commercial maneuvers ( Lazy Eight, Chandelles, etc.). Recent experience flying under VFR (Visual Flight Rules). Proficiency in the Aeronautical Knowledge Areas in the Commercial Pilot ACS. 

How do I become a CFI?

 

The estimation of time to become a CFI is all dependent on training pace, objective outlook, and budget. The majority of program options available to you will have a completion time of between 12-18 weeks. Accelerated, Intensive. Tailored CFI Training Programs such as CFI Bootcamp's, range can lower that to as little as 2 weeks on campus. The Pre-requisites are: Be at least 18 years of age. Able to read, speak, write and understand the English language. Have either a Commercial Pilot or ATP Certificate. Pass a knowledge test in the areas of 61.185(a)(1). Pass a knowledge test in the areas of 61.187(b).

How much does a CFI make?

 

An initial flight instructor can expect to start making $50/hr. as an independent instructor. Assuming that you are working 40 hours a week, you could expect a yearly salary of $78,000. If working for a flight school in an academy environment, you can expect around $ 30.00/hr. As an initial flight instructor training initial flight instructor applicants can make more. Expect to make $65-$85/hr. Assuming you can bill for a 40 hours a week, expect a yearly salary of 140,400. The above is very location dependent and school dependent. Initially you should expect a low rate of pay until you have acquired around 1000 hours and have been teaching for more than a year. Large academies don’t usually pay as much because there is a steady stream of students available, and you can build time quickly. In non-academy schools you may need to be able to develop your own students from walk-ins, email, phone work etc.

How hard is it to become a CFI?

Training takes a considerable amount of self-study and ground instruction from an experienced CFI teaching CFIs. Self-study will take at least 100 hours. Individual instruction will take another 30 hours or so. Programs like CFI Bootcamp can significantly reduce the cost of individual instruction by providing an online course and either in-person or livestreamed scenario-based classes.

 

One of the things that can really slow down training is to pick a CFI who does primarily Private and occasional Commercial training. This person doesn’t know enough about the fundamentals of instructing (FOI), the tricky regulatory requirements for endorsing and training pilots from other category and classes and so on. Find a person or school that specializes in CFI training.

 

The industry's average first-time pass rate is less than 40%. However, tailored accelerated CFI Training environments have been found to have pass rates of nearly 93% first time. The difference depends on where you receive your CFI Training from. Is the environment you're receiving your training from focus on just CFI Training, or is it a combination of all training types? Companies like CFI Bootcamp have created and perfected a systematic approach to effectively and efficiently educate students on the technical subject areas, flight maneuvers, and teaching skills that ultimately build confidence and position you for a successful first-time pass of the checkride.