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Flight Instructor Expiration...Every 24-Months?

Posted 7 years 90 days ago ago by Randy Rowles

The FAA requires a Flight Instructor to renew their certificate on a 24-month basis. Why 24-months? I've posed this question many times to FAA types and the answer appears to be elusive. The most common answer is simply that a 24-month renewal period provides the FAA with a mechanism to evaluate a Flight Instructor on a recurring basis thereby ensuring their ability to consistently meet the high standards of the Flight Instructor Practical Test Standards (PTS). With all of the various methods to renew a Flight Instructor certificate, the least of which is taking a practical test, it would appear that logic may be flawed.

There doesn't appear to be a good reason why a Flight Instructor certificate should expire after a 24-month period. The cost alone of printing each certificate after each renewal much be staggering. With flight safety being the primary charter of the FAA, a program based on instructional currency and proficiency would seem more relevant to this purpose, and more practical in terms of complexity and cost to manage.

Where as a pilot must receive a flight review every 24-months, this same principle can be applied to a Flight Instructor. In lieu of reprinting a new Flight Instructor certificate after each renewal, the certificate itself would never expire. The method of renewal would remain the same, however the instructor would simply have their logbook endorsed if renewing via practical test, duties and responsibilities, etc. If renewing by a Flight Instructor Refresher Course (FIRC), they would only need to have a graduation certificate showing successful completion with their 24-month renewal window.

In the manner of renewal I’ve described above, the system would simplify the certification process. The FAA would not require an application to be processed for every Flight Instructor certificate re-issued. Only those Flight Instructor certificates issued initially would go through the actual card issuance process. What if a Flight Instructor does not renew or their Flight Instructor certificate is revoked? In these cases, similar to that of a pilot certificate, the airman would be in violation of the regulations by acting in the capacity of an FAA certificate that was not current and/or valid. 

So in closing, what is the harm in not having an expiration date on a Flight Instructor certificate. From my perspective, not much! What are your thoughts?

About Randy:  Randy Rowles has been a FAA pilot examiner for 20 years for all helicopter certificates and ratings. He holds a FAA Gold Seal Flight Instructor Certificate, NAFI Master Flight Instructor designation, and was the 2013 recipient of the HAI Flight Instructor of the Year Award.  Randy is currently  Director of Training at Epic Helicopters in Ft. Worth, Texas.