Surprising Gaps in FAA Requirements

It is shocking that the FAA instructor, who might be teaching your child or significant other to fly, is only required to have a total of 200 hours and 5 hours alone in a plane. And how comfortable are you learning from an “instrument instructor” when they might never have done what they are teaching  – flown in a cloud (NOT required)?  A “senior instructor,” is able to train a new CFI with only 200 hours teaching and 2 years experience required (and there is great pressure from the industry to soften these requirements). I see both good and bad versions of this system at work every day in flight schools I visit and work with. But safety demands higher personal standards *not* FAA minimums!

It is an understatement to say the FAA certification system has some “shocking minimums.” Even the flight rules allowing “one mile clear of clouds” clearly put true safety directly in the hands of pilots, trusting their judgment and integrity. Safety also requires professional organizations like SAFE to define, inspire, and build higher professional standards for pilots and educators.  Look at the significant change – ACS – our Pilot Reform Symposium fostered in the FAA training and testing system. We are YOUR organization, and appreciate YOUR support. SAFE achieved 3000 members last month and also the WINGS survey results placing us #1 as your “trusted knowledge provider” (our humble gratitude for such success!) But the votes of support are just the launching pad for much greater programs soon to come.

Both CFI-PRO™ and Checkride Ready! are very new programs that will grow into significant educational platforms as gatherings are again permitted and our industry picks up full speed after COVID. You can help by spreading our SAFE brand to flying friends in your area (that 1/3 off ForeFlight is an attractive incentive) please spread the word. Wear our SAFE branded apparel and share these posts. Get in touch to become a regional SAFE Ambassador. If you are already a member, Step-Up to a supporting level or provide a tax-deductible gift this “giving season” (SAFE is an educational not-for-profit 501-C-3). We also need volunteers for programs and committees as we grow. Stay SAFE and fly often, thanks for your help in growing SAFE.

Our FREE SAFE Toolkit App  has all 61.65 endorsements, experience requirements and the new ACS codes right on your smartphone. Join SAFE and receive other great benefits (1/3 off ForeFlight!) Flying Mag, GA News.

Our new “Checkride Ready!™”is now on the SAFE toolkit app (prepared by senior DPEs). This guidance helps prevent “Pink Slips” during flight tests by fully preparing every applicant for their checkride. Both Private and Instrument are now complete.

Author: David St. George

SAFE Director, Master CFI (12X), FAA DPE, ATP (ME/SE) Currently jet charter captain.

9 thoughts on “Surprising Gaps in FAA Requirements”

  1. David, while I agree with your comments about CFI professionalism, as a SAFE member I cannot support your comments regarding the recently disgraced DPE, Michael Puehler. While it is obvious that this DPE has run afoul of the FAA, I cannot find any FACTS as to exactly what the malfeasance was, therefore how can you judge him in a public forum without the facts? You use the word “larceny”, and I must ask if that is the case, or is that conjecture on your part? If you have the facts, please share. The point here was this due to his administrative actions as a DPE, or his personal conduct or what? Additionally, taking a OFFICIAL FAA document and modifying it with the SAFE logo is not something I am able to support as a member.

    I do not know Mr. Puehler at all, and do feel he should be accountable, however without the facts, how and what do we learn from this?


    1. Since administrative law does not follow the usual rules of evidence and procedure found in civil law we cannot access the accusations or evidence, only the outcome (unfortunately). When internal cases involve this many years and different roles, the reasonable assumption is that this was not an administrative error, but a major malfeasance. Additionally, when someone inside the FAA is found culpable, that person has already exhausted many internal avenues of appeal. It might be possible to get more detailed information with a FOI request? When we store articles in our library on our server they are “stamped” with the logo (docs provided to the public, once downloaded are not official FAA).

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