This image from an FAA presentation got a lot of attention (and I am sorry we do not have much information yet). But this is a very early “pre-decisional proposal” – basically a “media balloon” – intended to test public opinion and start a discussion (yes the FAA watches social media very carefully). The FAA proposal is to eliminate expirations for flight instructors and simultaneously restrict “exercising the privilege” based on some required activity and/or experience – consistent with most other certificates. Any formal proposal will have to go through a very long official NPRM – comment – process. This will require lots of input from industry and individual CFIs – so don’t panic yet. This idea has been around for many years – see this article from 2010 and there are some good reasons to consider a change. More details will be forthcoming from the FAA, but let’s explore this just a little.
This action would remove the expiration date on flight instructor certificates. In addition, it would remove the requirement for a flight instructor to renew his or her flight instructor certificate. Instead, the rule would call for the flight instructor to meet and demonstrate recent experience requirements to exercise the privileges of his or her certificate.
I renewed a CFI Friday (as this story was breaking) using his FAA WINGS activity. Remarkably, this is not on the FAA WINGS Instructor page but only available in AC 61-91J. But wouldn’t it be great if there was a tab on the FAA WINGS site where a CFI could keep their instructor certificate valid – no FIRC – the same as pilots keep their certificate current? The WINGS program would be a natural learning platform for providing CFIs with “master-level” education. The FAA already has lots of other “activity renewals” under CFR 61.197(a)2ii. Most DPEs can perform any of these functions and it currently only takes about 10 minutes to renew based on activity. CFIs are qualified for renewal under CFR 61.197(a)2ii based on their activites/experience over the last two years. I would imagine the new process would be similar but not require the DPE.
Many part-time CFIs immediately expressed displeasure, imagining the FAA will only count 8710 sign-offs for “activity” – and their instructor privileges might be in jeopardy. But “active” by that definition only represents 8% of the current CFI population. And professional pilots, teaching part-time, are the richest source of experience in our flight training community. FIRCs, now almost exclusively online, have increasingly diminished in duration and quality in recent years. And the NTSB is crying for better FAA oversight of CFIs – and enforcement of an 80% pass rate for active CFIs. Change is in the wind, we’ll soon see where this goes. Fly safe out there (and often).
Thank you to Jason Blair for the link to the new FAA proposal: HERE
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