CFI Renewal FAQs

Flight Instructor Certificate Renewals

Top 22 questions



What are my options for renewing my flight instructor certificate within the next few months? (top)
You have several options available to you, each with their own advantages. They are: Attend an approved Online Flight Instructor Refresher Clinic (eFIRC) program; take a practical test with the FAA or an authorized designated examiner; present a record of training showing that during the past 24 months you have endorsed at least five students for a practical test, with at least 80 percent (four students) passing on the first attempt; or present a record showing that within the past 24 months you have 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 in which the FAA inspector is acquainted with the duties and responsibilities of the position, and has satisfactory knowledge of its current pilot training, certification and standards.

What is acceptable as positive identification of the applicant when submitting an FAA Form 8710? (top)
You need a photo ID containing your picture, your current residential address, and a signature. Ideally, these three items should be on one identification card, and a driver's license is the preferred form. (Before coming the the FIRC, check to make sure that your driver's license is current and shows your correct address). However, you can use more than one form of ID to establish your identification, such as a military ID or passport. Your application form must contain your actual residential address, and your ID must have that same address. If you have no residential address (such as in an extremely rural area) then you must draw a map showing where you live; bringing a predrawn map with you when you come to the FIRC will save you considerable time and aggravation.

How does one determine the 4-month instructor certificate renewal window established by FAR 61.197? Does the 4-month period start the day of your FIRC graduation?(top)
No. The renewal window is four calendar months prior to your expiration month. For example, if your certificate expires in July, you could complete a FIRC as early as April 1, submit your application, and you would retain your original expiration date of July.

What happens if I take a FIRC program more than 4 months in advance of my certificate's expiration date? (top)
If you take the FIRC more than four months prior to your expiration month, and elect to carry your 8710, graduation certificate, and unexpired flight instructor certificate to the local FSDO yourself, it will be renewed for the end of the month in which you took the FIRC. However, the FIRC graduation certificate is good for only 3 calendar months, so applicants must be careful not to exceed that period. If you elect to have the ASI process your application through the FAA, your expiration date will be the same month in which you took the FIRC.

What advantage is it to allow ASI to handle the paperwork to revalidate my CFI, compared to visiting my local FSDO and letting them take care of it? (top)
Unlike other FIRC providers, ASI does not charge extra for processing your CFI revalidation, and -- particularly with post-9/11 security precautions -- allowing ASI to handle the revalidation will save you an immense amount of hassle. If you decide to take your renewal program paperwork to the local FSDO yourself, be aware that you can no longer just walk into the FSDO. You must make an appointment -- well in advance, in most cases -- and be prepared to go through complex identification procedures. Also, all the extra security duties that have been assigned to FAA inspectors leave them with precious little time for routine duties, such as renewing CFI certificates. There have been cases where CFIs declined ASI's offer to renew their certificates, and then were unable to get an appointment with an FAA inspector until it was too late.

What is ASI's 4 month guarantee? (top)
Renew your CFI through ASI, either live or online, no more than 4 months prior to your expiration date. When done in accordance with FAR 61.197(b), and ASI handles your renewal paperwork, we guarantee you'll keep your original expiration date. For example, if your certificate expires August 31, you may complete a FIRC anytime in May, June, July or August and retain the August 31 expiration.

If my flight instructor certificate has expired, can I still renew on the basis of graduating from a FIRC? (top)
No, you must hold a valid, unexpired flight instructor certificate at the time you submit your application for renewal. Although attendance at a FIRC would certainly be beneficial from a knowledge standpoint, it could not be used as the basis for your renewal.

What are my options for renewal if my instructor certificate has expired? (top)
You only have one option -- a checkride. The FAA refers to this as a "reinstatement." In most areas, this means a ride with your local FAA inspector, but some flight standards district offices (FSDOs) have authorized designated examiners to handle reinstatements. The good news is that you don't need to take a knowledge test, and one ride will suffice to renew all the ratings listed on that expired flight instructor certificate.

I hold a flight instructor certificate with both airplane and helicopter ratings. Will attendance at a FIRC program renew both ratings? (top)
The regulation does not require you to attend an airplane or helicopter FIRC program. You may attend any FIRC program and renew all the ratings on your flight instructor certificate.

Now that the FAA requires a flight instructor to have a certificate in his or her "physical possession," how am I to instruct if I surrender my certificate for renewal at one of your programs? (top)
FAR 61.3(d) also states "...or other documentation acceptable to the administrator." The FAA's policy on this issue was revealed in the preamble of the Part 61 corrections document issued on July 30, 1997. It states that a FIRC graduation certificate is acceptable documentation to the administrator. You may carry your graduation certificate as evidence that you hold a flight instructor certificate until you receive your temporary certificate. ASI"s graduation certificate includes a small card that will fit conveniently in your wallet or purse.

I was able to renew my certificate two years ago by taking it to the local FSDO and having it reissued based on the inspector's personal knowledge of me. I don't see that option listed under FAR 61.197. What happened? (top)
That option still exists but is not formally recognized in the regulations. An FAA inspector may renew your flight instructor certificate based on his or her personal knowledge of you as a flight instructor. You may, however, find inspectors reluctant to exercise this option.

I recently added an instrument rating to my flight instructor certificate, which was issued 12 months ago. Do I need to renew my original flight instructor certificate in another 12 months (24 months from the original issuance), or does the additional rating extend the renewal period? (top)
An additional flight instructor rating "resets" the renewal clock. Because you were issued a new rating on your flight instructor certificate, you should have a certificate with an expiration date 24 months from the date you obtained that rating. That new date is your expiration date.

May I use a simulator to take a practical test for the renewal of my flight instructor certificate? (top)
Yes, but FAR 61.197(c) only authorizes the use of a flight simulator or flight training device (FTD) when used in conjunction with an approved course under a Part 142 training center.

If I became ill or was forced to discontinue the program due to a family emergency, what would happen? Would I have to repeat the program, or would the FAA accept the circumstances and renew my certificate? (top)
To receive a graduation certificate, you must complete the FIRC program. If sickness or some other type of emergency forces you to discontinue, you will be issued a certificate of partial completion listing the number of hours you attended. To obtain a graduation certificate, you must complete the remaining hours at your earliest convenience, but in no case later than the expiration date on your instructor certificate. One of the advantages of attending an ASI course is that we offer many programs across the nation, making it easy to complete the course. There is no additional charge for attending a second live ASI FIRC if, for emergency reasons, you were unable to complete the first one. You may also switch to the online CFI renewal course. We will issue a refund for the tuition fee less $30 for the ASI course kit.

Do I have to surrender my certificate for renewal at the FIRC, or can I take my graduation certificate and application directly to the local FSDO for renewal? (top)
You do not have to renew your certificate at the program. You may choose to take your application and graduation certificate directly to the FSDO for renewal. If you do, make sure you submit your application before your certificate expires and within 3 calendar months after your FIRC graduation month.

I have a graduation certificate from a FIRC program I attended more than 3 months ago, but was delayed in submitting my application to the local FSDO. Can I still renew my flight instructor certificate using my graduation certificate from that FIRC program? (top)
Unfortunately, you're out of luck. But you are really out of luck if your CFI certificate has also expired. Your FIRC graduation certificate expires 3 calendar months after the month of issuance. For example, if you completed the FIRC in April, your FIRC certificate expires the end of July. If you have enough time before your certificate expires, you can enroll in another FIRC, show you have endorsed at least five students for a practical test (80 percent must pass), or exercise other options outlined in FAR 61.197.

Do I need a current medical certificate to renew my flight instructor certificate at your program? (top)
No. A current medical is not required to renew your flight instructor certificate. In fact, a current medical is not even required to instruct as long as you do not act as the pilot in command of the aircraft.

When filling out the 8710 application form for my renewal, do I need to complete section III, Record of Pilot Time? (top)
There is no requirement to complete the record of pilot time section of Form 8710 for a flight instructor renewal. You may, however, want to do this for other reasons. It might serve as possible proof of previous time should you lose your logbooks. Whether it would be accepted without questions is debatable, but something is always better than nothing.

My schedule will not allow me to devote a full weekend to a FIRC program. Can I attend and spend a day at one location and then finish the program requirements at a different location on a different day? (top)
The FAA has not provided any real guidance on this question, nor does the regulation prohibit it. The live FIRC program was not designed to be taken over an extended period of time. Consider taking the CFI renewal online course.

I just discovered that my flight instructor certificate is missing, and I'm scheduled to attend a FIRC program next week. Can I submit an application form without my instructor certificate? (top)
You must submit your flight instructor certificate with an application form. If your certificate is lost, you may request a faxed confirmation notice directly from the FAA by calling 405/954-3261. This confirmation notice may be used in lieu of the actual certificate. You can also contact your local FSDO for assistance.

Which renewal method should I choose? (top)
Choose the one that fits your particular lifestyle and time constraints. Each renewal method has its advantages and disadvantages. Attending a FIRC program has a number of advantages over other methods, including a renewal based on student activity. Not only does it provide you with the latest information on regulations, technology, and teaching techniques, it also provides you with an opportunity to network with other flight instructors in your area. CFI renewal online provides the latest information and can be done at your convenience from home.

How can I get more information on the dates, times, and locations of your programs? (top)
The Air Safety Institute offers renewal courses throughout the United States. Of course, the simplest way is to register online for the live weekend course now! You can also call 800/638-3101 and talk to one of our course registration specialists. They can help you locate a course that is convenient and take your registration right over the phone. Or, you may choose to enroll in the CFI renewal online.

Still have questions? Contact ASI for answers.