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The Ultimate Guide to Renewing Your CFI Certificate

Everyone dreads these words, “license and registration please,” while you’re being pulled over.  You reluctantly open your glove compartment and look down to see that your license has expired.  Oops! Well, what if you’re a pilot?   They don’t have airplane police to pull you over for speeding.  But you are required to have the necessary documentation, including a pilot’s license, and if you’ve gone so far as to get your Certified Flight Instructor certificate, that is one thing you don’t want to see has expired. 

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What You Need to Know About CFI Renewals

How do you get your CFI? You have to have completed flight school, you need to speak, write and read English, you also need to be over 18 years of age and have an instrument rating, plus you need to have logged over 250 hours of flight time.  After you have completed all that, you can become a Certified Flight Instructor.  Your certificate only lasts for 24 months, so you want to make sure you are on top of the CFI renewal process.

Why should you become a Certified Flight Instructor or CFI?  Most pilots go for their CFI because it helps to gain more experience flying, and you can log more hours in the air.  Once you’ve become a pilot, there is obviously a love of flying, and who doesn’t want to become an expert at their craft.  Obtaining your CFI Certificate helps you to become well respected in the aviation community, and it also provides you the chance to give back to a fellow future pilot with the knowledge you have learned over the course of your career. 

Once you do become a Certified Flight Instructor, you will want to stay on top of your renewals, as it will only last two years.  If you let your CFI certificate expire by even a day, you will need to retake all your classes, training and complete a check ride.  It’s a good idea to get a head start when your expiration date is approaching.  Here are some ways to stay ahead of the curve.

Renewing your CFI Certificate

Here’s the good news, you can start the CFI renewal process up to 3 months before your expiration date, which is a good idea considering how drastic the measures are. If you let your CFI Certificate expire by one day, you will basically have to start all over.  No one likes repeating classes, especially when it could take up to 12 weeks to complete a flight instructor refresher course, and you will also need to retake a checkride which is a live test in the air.

Flight Instructor Refresher Courses

One way you can renew your CFI is to complete a FIRC (Flight Instructor Refresher Clinic) that is completed online or by attending an Industry Sponsored event in person.  You may prefer this process as it’s a nice refresher course.  Just don’t let your CFI Certificate expire and then be forced to complete a CFI refresher course, and you will also need to complete a checkride all over again.

CFI First Student Pass Rates

If you are an A student and have always scored highly on tests, gone above and beyond to be knowledgeable in your craft, you can get your CFI renewal just by studying hard and achieving a high score.  The way to do this is if you maintain an 80% First Time Student Pass Rate out of a minimum of 5 recommendations for a practical test, you can renew your CFI Certificate this way.  Make sure you keep all your documentation within the next two years just in case you need to prove your academic achievements.

Getting a CFI by Serving as a Check Airman

Another way you can get your CFI Certificate renewal is by serving as a Check Airman in part 121 or 135 operations within two years of achieving your CFI Certificate.  Just make sure your logbook entries are all well documented so you can show the FAA your credentials and have proof of your Check Airman experience.  Basically, it’s the same thing as “license and registration,” except this time it’s the FAA asking, and your Check Airman experience is your license and your registration.

The FAA Wings Program

A fun way to renew your CFI Certificate is to participate in the FAA Wings program, and complete 15 hours of flight training to other participating pilots, and sign off on at least five pilots for their phase of this program.  It’s a great way to give back and earn some more flight time hours, which may be needed depending on your pilot career “flight path.”

Gold Seal Certifications for Your CFI

Now, if you were an A+ student on the honor roll and valedictorian, you might want to consider studying extra hard for your first-time practical test.  Because if you earn 80% on the first-time practical test pass rate out of 10 recommendations in the 24 months following your CFI Certificate, you will get a Gold Seal Certification, which is a top-notch score that few receive.  Consider it a flight school honor roll, but it can only be used once to renew your Certified Flight Instructor Certificate.

Get Your CFI With Leopard Aviation

No matter which of these options you choose to achieve your CFI renewal, Leopard Aviation at Scottsdale airport can help!  Their instructors are state of the art, and their motto is “there are no bad students, only bad instructors.”  Their brand-new aircraft include a 2020 Cessna 172S, with Garmin G1000 NXi Avionics, GFC700 Autopilot, TAWS (Terrain Awareness Warning System), Synthetic Vision, ADSB In/Out, and IFR Certified.  They can help you with getting a single-engine commercial license, an Instrument rating, or a BFR- Bi-Annual Flight Review to become a Certified Flight Instructor.  No matter where your piloting career takes you, start with one of the best schools in Arizona, Leopard Aviation.

Do you need help renewing your CFI? Get in touch with Leopard Aviation today — the best flight school around!

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