Education and Certification Requirements
To be a certified flight instructor, the applicant must hold a valid FAA medical certificate, as well as hold an FAA certified flight instructor license. Most training facilities insist that the instructors have no limitations on their FAA medical certificate.
There are multiple types of licenses and ratings for flying aircraft. The flight instructor has to be rated to certify the type of license that the prospective pilot is seeking. Primarily, a certified flight instructor needs to be qualified to rate a single engine landing, instrument flying, and night flying.
The airline industry is constantly improvising on the type and style of aircrafts. the aircrafts. Each class of aircraft requires a different rating. Generally, certified flight instructors continue to update their skills to remain competitive in their chosen market.
Many a time manufacturers of new models of aircrafts also train certified flight instructors for rating pilots on the new aircraft. For honorably discharged veterans who received flight training and gained extensive flight time, receiving the certified flight instructor rating opens another avenue for a career in aviation.
The responsibilities which form part of a certified flight instructor's job are remarkably similar across all types of training. The flight instructor teaches in a ground school prior to flying. This ensures that the student is familiar with all the aspects of flying, as well as familiar with the current lesson through a pre-flight briefing.
One of the key requirements for a certified flight instructor is to stay current with all FAA regulations, policies, and procedures. The flight instructor includes this information in the ground school portion of flight training.
The flight instructor develops and monitors the entire training course, and he also ensures that the student successfully completes all elements in the training course. This includes inspecting and endorsing the flight book that the student maintains to record personal hours in the air. At the end of each stage of flight training, the certified flight instructor checks that all flight books and flight lessons of the student are successfully completed.
The certified flight instructor also flies with the student and shares the various techniques of flying. In his training course he covers all the aspects of flying the aircraft, including pre-flight checks; take-off, flying and landing techniques; as well as identifying mid air obstacles, such as birds.
Where the aircrafts are small the flight instructor shows the student how to secure the aircraft in a hangar after the flight. The student is also shown how the aircraft is to be tied down to prevent wind damage.
For training airline pilots, the certified flight instructor works with pilots who have accumulated a minimum of 1,500 flight hours. If the student pilot needs additional certification, the certified flight instructor will train the student on instrument flying, night flying, or for a jet rating.
For gaining additional certification in instrument flying, the student will need 40 hours flying by instruments, guided by a flight instructor. The flight instructor works with the student to prepare him for passing the written test on instrument flight. The student then needs to demonstrate his ability to fly with instruments to the flight instructor. For jet ratings, some manufacturers and airlines hire certified flight instructors who are certified to fly the new type of aircraft. The flight instructor works with the engineers to develop a simulator and simulation course that meets FAA standards to train and test the skills of the pilot in training.
Skills and Personal Characteristics
Flight instructors who are certified by the FAA are the examiners who ensure that the pilot in training has the skills and abilities to fly the type of aircraft he is being trained for. They also test such flying skills as instrument flying. It is the job of the flight instructor to make sure that the skills of the pilot in training meet the rigorous FAA standards.
The flight instructor is rated and certified by the FAA for all those skills that he teaches and examines. Pilots and flight instructors are certified to fly or train a specific class and category of aircraft. Certain aircrafts also require a type rating. For example, a flight instructor who trains aircraft pilots for Boeing 747 aircraft needs to have certificates to train pilots for the Airline Transport Pilot certificate, including the airplane category rating. In addition, the instructor needs a multi-engine land class rating, an instrument rating, and a type rating for the 747.
The job outlook for certified flight instructors is similar to that of aircraft pilots and flight engineers. The job growth will be similar to other industries at 11% from 2006 to 2016.
Slump in the demand for airline pilots has affected their pay packets. That explains the downslide in the number of people seeking this job.
The US Armed Forces offers automatic reenlistment to its pilots. This makes it less attractive for them to move over to commercial flying.
Therefore people who wish to become airline pilots, freight pilots, or small commuter pilots are most likely to come through civilian training centers. And here arises the need for the services of certified flight instructors.
Broadly speaking, there are three career paths that a certified flight instructor can tread on.
The first is to set up an independent flight training school at a local airport. This type of certified flight instructor job is usually paid hourly, and the flight instructor is an independent contractor or business owner.
Alternately the certified flight instructor can be associated with the training programs for airline pilots. Universities and technical colleges offer training programs for civilian pilots to become rated as an airline pilot. This type of job is usually salaried.
A third path is to work with an airline or airplane manufacturer to rate pilots on new aircrafts, or to recertify them for their airline transport pilot's license. This type of position may be either contractual or salaried.
The salary of a certified flight instructor depends upon the type of pilot the instructor trains. On an average, the salary of a certified flight instructor is slightly over $86,000 annually.
The lack of outflow of pilots from the US Armed Forces, as well as the retirement of airline pilots indicates that more pilots will be trained through civilian programs. If you truly love flying and teaching, the job of flight instructor is just right for you.