CFI's Corner

As flight instructors, you are the front line for the training and mentoring woven into aviation.  The CFI and DPE work hand in hand to assist the students of aviation in meeting their goals.  We at have dedicated a special area just for CFI's to visit and receive quality, first-hand information you may be looking for prior to your student's checkride.  If you have any thoughts or ideas of what you'd like us to add to this area, please let us know!  We want to make the entire process easy for your students and for the flight instructors.  Of course, if you have a question for the DPE, please click the "Ask A Question" link and we will get back to you as soon as possible.  We may even share the question and answer for others wondering the same thing.  Thank you in advance!

Hot Topics   

 Top reasons students fail a checkride?    Read our blog here.

Proper Logbook Endorsements

Go to the latest Advisory Circular for all the correct here.

Current FAR Links

FAR Part 61:  Certification of Pilots, Flight Instructors, and Ground here.

FAR Part 91:  General Operating and Flight here.

Recent Rule Changes and Updates to ACS/PTS

COVID-19 Changes issued 04/30/2020 (rewritten from SFAR by AOPA):

Extensions applicable to all pilots (regardless of the type of flying) include:

  • Medical certificates. The FAA extended the validity periods of airman medical certificates that expire between March 31 and May 31 through June 30. However, the prohibition on operations during medical deficiency remains in effect.
  • Knowledge tests. Applicants whose knowledge tests expire between March and June will have their knowledge tests’ validity extended by three calendar months, making the applicants eligible for a practical test for a certificate or rating issued under Part 61 for those additional three calendar months.
  • Flight instructors. Flight instructor certificates, unlike pilot certificates, expire every 24 calendar months. The SFAR will extend the validity of flight instructor certificates that expired between March 31 and May 31 until June 30 in certain circumstances.

Provisions tied to specific types of flight operations include:

  • Flight reviews. The FAA is offering a three-calendar-month “grace period” for those whose flight review may expire between March 1 and June 30 if they meet the applicability requirements. A condition of eligibility for the extension is that the pilot must have been current in March 2020, logged at least 10 hours of pilot in command time within the 12 calendar months preceding the month the flight review was due, in an aircraft for which that pilot is rated. Also, eligible pilots must complete FAA Safety Team online courses totaling at least three Wings credits. The courses must have been completed in January 2020 or later to meet this requirement, according to the rule.
  • Recent flight experience, pilot in command. The FAA only provided relief for instrument recency. The SFAR extends to June 30 the requirement to be instrument current under FAR 61.57(c) for those who meet the applicability requirements. A pilot must have performed and logged, within the nine calendar months preceding the month of the flight, six instrument approaches, holding procedures and tasks, and intercepting and tracking courses through the use of navigational electronic systems. An additional eligibility requirement is that the pilot must have logged, in the preceding six calendar months, three instrument approaches in actual weather conditions, or under simulated conditions using a view-limiting device. Pilots who are unable to meet the instrument experience requirements before June 30 may still reestablish recency in accordance with FAR 61.57(d), but the number of months available to attain the instrument experience before having to take an instrument proficiency check “will depend on when the person last established instrument recency” in accordance with the regulation.

If you choose to extend your flight review or instrument currency under the SFAR, you should review the applicability requirements and limitations that are based on the grade of pilot certificate you hold, the intended operation, and for private pilots, other requirements.

In other provisions, the SFAR gives U.S. military and civilian personnel who were assigned outside the United States in support of U.S. armed forces operations and returned to the United States from deployment in October 2019 through March an additional three months beyond the six months allowed to comply with flight instructor and airframe and powerplant mechanic inspection authorization requirements, or complete the appropriate practical test, within six calendar months after returning to the United States.

The SFAR grants to airframe and powerplant mechanics with inspection authorization who were not able to meet the first year (even-numbered year) renewal requirements by March an additional three months (April to June) to complete one of the listed activities to meet the first year renewal requirements.

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.


The latest Commercial ACS and the Flight Instructor PTS revision on April 19, 2018 no longer require a complex airplane for the single engine Commercial or Flight Instructor checkride.

• Removed the complex airplane requirement from practical tests for an airplane single-engine instructor rating and made corresponding changes to Task elements.  Click here to see the FAA Notice covering this change.

Common question from CFI's and also a common contribution to failed check rides has been the proper pattern procedures at non-towered (uncontrolled) airports.  Be on the same page with other VFR traffic, and teaching the same information.  For a close look at the FAA guidance, please read and review AC 90-66B, or click here.

Shared Questions and Answers 

Send us your questions here, and we will provide an answer.   We may list them (anonymously) here for other CFI's to benefit from as well!