As printed in NAFI's "E-Mentor" (9/4/04 issue) & "Mentor" (12/04 issue)
Renewing Your CFI Certificate…There’s More?
By Michael A. Berlin, Gold Seal, Master CFI
True or False: The only acceptable methods by which a Flight Instructor Certificate can be renewed are specified in the FARs?
Let’s go to the source: FAR 61.197(a) states “A person who holds
a flight instructor certificate that has not expired may renew that certificate
1) Passing a practical test for—
(i) One or more ratings listed on the current flight instructor certificate or –
(ii) An additional flight instructor rating; or
2) Presenting to an authorized FAA Flight Standards Inspector—
(i) A record of training students showing that, during the preceding 24 calendar months, the flight instructor has endorsed at least five students for a practical test for a certificate or rating and at least 80 percent of those students passed that test on the first attempt;
(ii) A record showing that, within the preceding 24 calendar months, the flight instructor has served as a company check pilot, chief flight instructor, company check airman, or flight instructor in a part 121 or part 135 operation or in a position involving the regular evaluation of pilots; or
(iii) A graduation certificate showing that, within the preceding 3 calendar months, the person has successfully completed an approved flight instructor refresher course consisting of ground training or flight training or a combination of both.”
FAR 61.197(b) says that as long as your CFI certificate has not expired you can renew it any time for an additional 24 calendar months from the month you renew it by following any of the above methods. If you renew it during the 3 calendar months preceding the month of your current expiration you will retain same expiration month. For example, if your current expiration month is June 2004, and you renew it in January 2004, your new expiration date would be January 31, 2006. If you renew it anytime between March 1st and June 30, 2004 and your new expiration date would be June 30, 2006.
FAR 61.199(a) states that once a flight instructor’s certificate has expired they “may exchange that certificate for a new certificate with the same ratings by passing a practical test as prescribed in Sec. 61.183(h) of this part for one of the ratings listed on the expired flight instructor certificate.” If you have not renewed your flight instructor certificate by the stroke of midnight on the last day of your current expiration month not only do your CFI privileges expire but so do all of the renewal options! The only way to get back your all the flight instructor privileges you had is by again passing a practical test for just one of the ratings listed on your expired CFI certificate! The retaking of the aeronautical knowledge & FOI written tests are NOT required!
So, the above are the only methods by which a current Flight Instructor Certificate can be renewed? Well, here are some additional ways to renew a non-expired CFI certificate that are not in the FARs:
Are you a Master Instructor? Here’s another benefit of being one: On March 6, 2002 Robert A. Wright, Manager of the FAA’s General Aviation & Commercial Division (AFS-800) issued a memo that stated “Based on [our] review, we agree that the NAFI Master Instructor Continuing Education Program, as outlined, is acceptable as an alternative means of flight instructor certificate renewal…Therefore, the program is approved as a means to renew an FAA Flight Instructor Certificate…” In other words the successful completion of the NAFI Master Instructor program is accepted as being the equivalent of 61.197(a)(2)(iii). (Note that the time frame specified in 61.197(a)(2)(iii) applies to renewal via this method).Are you active in the FAA’s WINGS Program? If not you should be (get a copy of AC 61-91 for more information)! Little known FAA Order 8700.1, Appendix 3, Bulletin Number HBGA 00-18, issued 12-18-00 states: “in accordance with Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 61, section 61.197(a)(2)(ii), a holder of a current flight instructor certificate may renew his/her flight instructor certificate if that flight instructor is “ …in a position involving the regular evaluation of pilots…” Therefore, the FAA has determined that a holder of a current flight instructor certificate can renew his/her certificate by participating as a flight instructor in a phase of the FAA’s WINGS Program (i.e., Phase I through XX proficiency awards). This bulletin documents the procedure for renewing a flight instructor’s certificate on that basis.”
Paragraph 3B of that document defines the criteria for renewing a flight instructor certificate via this method. It states that “…the flight instructor must:
(1) Hold a current flight instructor certificate that has
(2) Have provided at least fifteen (15) hours of flight training (emphasis added, flight training) in a phase of the FAA’s WINGS Program;
(3) Have provided flight training (emphasis added, flight training) in a phase of the FAA’s WINGS Program to at least 5 pilots and signed the logbooks of those pilots;
(4) Be enrolled and actively participating in a phase of the FAA’s Wings Program, or have previously satisfactorily accomplished all of the phases of the program;
(5) Present a record to an authorized FAA Flight Standards Aviation Safety Inspector (ASI) showing that the flight instructor has met the requirements of the preceding subparagraphs (2), (3), and (4) within the preceding 24-calendar months before the month of application for renewal of his or her flight instructor certificate; and
(6) Present a completed FAA Form 8710-1, Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application, to an authorized FAA Flight Standards ASI or Aviation Safety Technician (AST) for renewal of his or her flight instructor certificate.”
So, if during the 24 months prior to your current CFI certificate expiration month you’ve given a minimum total of 15 hours of flight instruction to at least 5 pilots in any Phase of the WINGS Program and earned a WINGS Program Phase yourself (it even counts as a BFR!) you’re qualified! Just properly document it all (copy of the Pilots’ logbook entries, your logbook entries or copies of the Pilots’ completed WINGS forms), and present it together with a filled out 8710-1 to the local FSDO. Your CFI certificate will be renewed for another 24 months on the spot!
Finally, being regular attendee at Aviation Safety Seminars, producing a few of those seminars, serving as an Aviation Safety Counselor or a combination of all of these during the preceding 24 months just may qualify your current certificate for renewal based on your “activity”. You should discuss this method of certificate renewal with your local FAA Flight Standards ASI (Aviation Safety Inspector) or AST (Aviation Safety Technician).
So, if your CFI certificate expiration date is drawing near
don’t panic, you may have already earned its renewal!