Become a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI)

The CFI course is designed to take a commercial pilot certificate holder through the completion of the Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) rating. A CFI certificate is required to teach other pilot certificate applicants, conduct flight reviews, aircraft proficiency, or insurance checkouts. This is one of the traditional first steps in expanding career horizons as a professional pilot.

The best way to master a subject is to teach it. Becoming an instructor significantly expands flight knowledge and proficiency; rapidly exceeding the expectations of what is possible as a pilot. Being a CFI provides the opportunity to build valuable flight time, gain experience, refine proficiency, and increase safety awareness, all while being paid to fly.

By teaching others, CFI’s are constantly being challenged to learn, enhancing their capabilities to comprehend and communicate. CFI’s have the opportunity to exponentially grow their experience by constantly improving and refining their piloting and communication skills. A CFI will personally impact the safety and proficiency of the pilots they train, but there’s also the critically important role CFI’s play in impacting the future of aviation. Teaching someone to learn to fly is often the greatest reward of all.

Aspen Flying Club is the perfect setting for aspiring CFI’s to complete their flight instructor certifications. Located close to the Rocky Mountains and with density altitude considerations to deal with daily, AFC prepares CFI candidates to teach anywhere in the USA. Aspen’s team of experienced instructors provides training for initial issue flight instructor certificate (CFI), flight instructor instrument airplane (CFII) and multi-engine instructor ratings (MEI).

The CFI initial course is a very detailed, thorough and comprehensive course that requires a lot of hard work and dedication on the part of the applicant as well as the instructor. The course consists of about 50 hours of ground school, and 10-12 hours of flight training. CFI training is about being able to clearly teach aviation concepts, both on the ground and in flight. This course is not about piloting skills. At this stage it is understood that CFI applicants already hold at least a commercial pilot certificate and have already mastered the art of flying. Now it is about mastering the art of teaching aviation. This is the reason the CFI course focuses on ground training.

The ground school includes all the subject areas covered in the fundamentals of instruction and the Flight Instructor Aeronautical Knowledge. The applicant will have to spend a lot of time self-studying, and practice-teaching other students while the instructor is supervising.

When it’s time for the checkride, the applicant will have gained all the knowledge and confidence necessary to qualify as a flight instructor. The flight portion of the course includes all the private, commercial, and CFI maneuvers, while teaching from the right seat. The course also includes the required spin awareness, entry, and recovery techniques. 

What are the prerequisites?

Must hold a Commercial Airplane license with instrument rating and 250 hours total time Must have passed the Fundamentals of Instruction (FOI) and CFI Airplane Knowledge Tests, must have a sign off on instructional proficiency in stall awareness, spin entry, spins and spin recovery and a current third class medical certificate.

The Checkride

In most cases CFI applicants will take their CFI checkride with the local FAA FSDO inspector. This checkride is free of cost. There are times when the FSDO will schedule a checkride with a local DPE, and in that case there will be an examiner fee due to the DPE. A CFI applicant does not get to choose their examiner, one will be assigned.

How much does it cost?

Aspen Flying Club has the perfect complex aircraft for any Pilot looking to achieve their Initial Instructor Certificate. The Cessna 182RG, N143LW, has 235 horsepower, retractable gear, and comes equipped with easy to use Aspen Avionics with safe taxi and synthetic vision. N143LW is also ideal for any CFI applicant because they’ll be eligible for a 10 hour block rate of just $135 an hour! Assuming candidates meet the minimum hour requirements, this is an estimate of what to expect to pay during CFI training:

  Hours Cost Total
Cessna 182RG 10 $145/hour (wet) for up to 10 hours ($169/wet for any hour after 10) $1,450
Flight Instructor 50 $60/hour $3,000
FAA Knowledge Exam   $150 $150
Aircraft rental for checkride 1.5 $169/wet $253.50
FAA Examiner fee for checkride (if required)   $800 $800
Misc. Books and Supplies     $100
      $5,753.50

* These prices are just an estimate. Actual costs will vary on an individual basis depending on different learning styles and the proficiency and preparation of the pilot.

Becoming a Certified Flight Instructor Instrument, or CFII, allows one to teach instrument rating applicants, both on the ground (aeronautical knowledge) and in flight. Aspen Flying Club’s CFII course consists of about 25 hours of flight instruction, with about 10-20 of those hours being in an aircraft or simulator. The ground training portion includes teaching a good instrument scan, instrument navigation, traditional and modern GPS based equipment and various instrument approaches like ILS, VOR, NDB etc., instrument emergency procedures and unusual attitude entry and recovery procedures. The flight portion of this course will help the candidate learn how to teach instrument students in an airplane. 

Checkride

The CFII checkride can be scheduled with any qualified Designated Examiner. Typically, during the oral portion of the checkride the candidate will “teach” the examiner some instrument procedures, approaches and emergencies (with one lesson plan), then for the flight portion, “teach” the examiner the instrument procedures and at least one instrument approach while being under the hood.

How much does it cost?

CFII candidates have the benefit of being able to utilize a full motion Redbird Simulator during this training program. It’s an excellent learning tool and it is a very affordable option. Here is a breakdown of what to expect as a CFII candidate:

  Hours Cost Total
Redbird Simulator 10 $65 $650
IFR-Equipped Aircraft 10 $99 $990
Flight Instructor 25 $60 $1,500
FAA Knowledge Exam   $150 $150
Aircraft rental for checkride 1.5 $99 $148.50
FAA Examiner fee for checkride   $600 $600
Misc. Books and Supplies     $100
      $4,138.50

* These prices are just an estimate. Actual costs will vary on an individual basis depending on different learning styles and the proficiency and preparation of the pilot.

How long will it take?

Students completing at least one 2-hour lesson per week can be expected to complete their CFII in approximately 3 months. Unexpected delays beyond anyone’s control (weather, maintenance, etc.) may increase any of the above course durations.

A Multi-Engine Instructor rating is required to teach multi-engine pilot courses. Teaching multi-engine aircraft maneuvers is a lot of fun and very rewarding. Multi-engine instructing is a challenging job, but with proper training and discipline, MEI candidates are taught to be able to manage any situation and emergency. All this is covered in Aspen’s MEI training course. There is no FAA knowledge exam or written exam required for an MEI add-on rating.

The MEI add-on course is 15 hours of ground school covering the MEI maneuvers, lesson plans, emergencies, systems, aerodynamics and practice teaching. The flight portion is 5-10 hours with the candidate teaching and flying the airplane from the right seat. The flight portion is all VFR maneuvers and does not include/need any IFR work.

What are the prerequisites?

  • A current FAA Commercial Pilot certificate and a CFI certificate (expired CFI also works).
  • A minimum of a valid third class medical certificate.
  • At least 10 hours of PIC time on a multi-engine airplane. If applicant does not have this time, they can still begin the course, but will just pay for the extra rental time. 15 hours PIC in a multi-engine aircraft is required to take the checkride.

How much does it cost?

Here is a breakdown of what to expect as a MEI student:

  Hours Cost Total
Beech Duchess 10 $209/hour (wet) $2,090
Tecnam 10 $249/hour (wet) $2,490
Flight Instructor 15 $70 $1,050
FAA Knowledge Exam   $150 $150
Aircraft rental for checkride (Duchess) 1.5 $209/wet $313.50
Aircraft rental for checkride (Tecnam) 1.5 $249/wet $373.50
FAA Examiner fee for checkride   $600 $600
Misc. Books and Supplies     $100
      $4,303.50 – $4,763.50

* These prices are just an estimate. Actual costs will vary on an individual basis depending on different learning styles and the proficiency and preparation of the pilot.

How long will it take?

Applicants completing at least one 2-hour lesson per week can be expected to complete their MEI in approximately 2 months. Unexpected delays beyond anyone’s control (weather, maintenance, etc.) may increase any of the above course durations.