Certified Flight Instructors—Initial


You are a new instructor at a local FBO with less than 3 months’ experience. A person comes to the FBO and inquires as to what it would take to become a pilot. This scenario will revolve around how you would inform the prospective student pilot as to the process, time involved, obstacles to learning, requirements as far as aeronautical knowledge, proficiency, and experience. The discussion will take this student pilot from day one through training up to the point where you will be sending him/her to an examiner for the practical test. This scenario is a fluid living Plan of Action, no two orals I conduct will be exactly the same but will generally follow this scenario. We may use a flight school instead of an FBO, the prospective student may be young, or maybe someone established in a good career that simply wants to fly for pleasure and not on a professional basis. Keep an open mind and just apply your knowledge of what you’ve learned to address the various sub scenarios as they develop.

Practical Test Prep Details

ACS/PTS—Take time to become intimately familiar with the CFI PTS and Commercial Pilot ACS as they both apply to this practical test. There is extremely valuable information in these documents and if you are familiar with them, you’ll find the process will be much easier. The CFI PTS has hundreds of references to “demonstrate instructional knowledge” or “demonstrates instructional abilities”, etc. Please remember, this is an instructor rating and it is a requirement to demonstrate instructional traits and qualities during the practical test.

Training Aids—This practical test is possibly one of the most challenging yet rewarding tests you’ll accomplish in your career. Being prepared to instruct is a key component to this test. Bring training aids to assist you. It doesn’t matter what kind of training aids you use, it can be a PPT presentation, a simple model of an airplane, pictures or references out of a book, etc. This is completely up to you. Use your imagination, I have seen some of the most ingenious types of training aids during my years as an examiner.

Your Plan of Action—Don’t be afraid to bring your own POA for the flight. Some applicants bring a POA for the flight and some even bring a POA for the oral and flight both. Of course, I have to insure required tasks are completed on the oral but if an applicant brings me a plan, I will attempt to blend it in to my scenario and use it. If you bring a POA for the flight, I’ll make every effort to use your plan. This is something I appreciate seeing as it shows initiative on your part and tells me you are in fact familiar with the CFI PTS and have studied it and know what required items and tasks are necessary for the practical test. Bear in mind this is not a requirement, just a suggestion.

Leadership—As examiners we always look to applicants to be the PIC of the flight and to demonstrate those traits. In my opinion CFI’s are a step above. Don’t be afraid to demonstrate your leadership skills and abilities during the oral and flight. I’m good at acting in a student pilot capacity and can role play that quite well.

Again, these items above are not requirements for you to successfully navigate through a CFI practical test but I feel they are good food for thought to help you to prepare yourself.

Additional Testing Details

Make sure you bring your username and password for IACRA. This will be needed to have you sign your application once I have verified your identity in the program.

Have your FTN with you.

Don’t forget your government ID with photo, medical (3rd class minimum or Basic Med with online certificate), Pilot certificate, and SODA if you have one issued.

Logbooks—Be sure to total all pages using only ink. Pencil will not be accepted. The FAA considers your logbook a legal record. Putting tabs or markings in your logbook so the examiner can easily identify and validate the requirements of §61.129 will definitely speed things up. Marking or annotating all endorsements will also facilitate the process.

Ensure you have all aircraft maintenance logs or records with you.

Use my weight of 210 lbs. in your weight and balance calculations.

Many questions come up. Unfortunately I can’t answer all of them here, but I’ll try to help out by describing a couple items that are frequently asked.

The general conduct of the practical test will be to meet and go over all the admin aspects such as insuring you have all required personal and aircraft documents, AKTRs, etc. This normally takes some time so being extremely familiar with the aircraft records and having your logbook annotated will greatly increase the efficiency of the practical test.

Remember, you are the PIC during the flight. I’m just along enjoying the ride. If an actual emergency occurs, I’ll certainly help but I want to see you handle it. Try to always be the PIC. What examiners look for is your ability to make decisions and act on them. Don’t worry about whether or not your decision is what I would do or what you think I want you to do, I just want you to make decisions.


I’m sure you will still have questions so please do not hesitate to contact me at any time for clarification! My goal is to ensure you are as prepared as you can be so you will feel at ease during the practical test.