how to become a flight instructor

How To Become A Flight Instructor

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Dear Aviator,

Welcome back on board my blog. It has been a while since the last time I posted here. I have a viable excuse for this. For the last two months, I have been busy with the training to become a flight instructor. The 10 most frequent questions regarding the training will be answered in this blog post. So buckle up, sit back, relax and enjoy my insights into the flight instructor rating. 

how to become a flight instructor
how to become a flight instructor

1. Why did I become a flight instructor?

You never forget your education and skills when working in the aviation business. Obtaining the pilot license sets the foundation for different ratings. Whether it is a type, examiner or in my case, the instructor rating. There are many ways to upgrade your pilot license and your personal proficiency. Becoming a captain was my biggest goal once I started flying as a First Officer. Once this was accomplished, I quickly noticed that I enjoyed passing on my experience and knowledge to my younger colleagues on the ride side. Before getting the 4th stripe on my uniform I was seated in their position and I expected from my superior that he/she would guide and teach me so that I could become a captain one day. 

To be in the position of a flight instructor on a regular flight, which I enjoyed very much, led me to become a flight instructor.

It must be a great feeling to pass on my passion and knowledge and to be able to teach people how to fly!

how to become a flight instructor

2. Which does the flight instructor rating grant?

ATPL(A), Airline transport pilot license: that is the pilot license I am currently possessing. This permits me to fly commercially in a two-man cockpit both as a First Officer or Commander.

The flight instructor for fixed-wing aeroplanes (FI(A)) gives me the qualification to instruct future pilots (flight students) on single piston aircraft to fly VFR (visual flight rules). Basically, when you decide as a pedestrian (that is how aviators call people who do not fly) to get a private pilot license (PPL) I could be your instructor. A PPL as the name suggests permits you to fly private so non-commercially. I am not only entitled to train up in the air but also on the ground during theory courses.

If a flight instructor is licensed according to EASA-FCL, his license will be titled FI(RP) during his first 100 hours of training. This abbreviation means “Restricted Privileges” – one restriction is, for instance, that a FI(RP) is not allowed to declare a flight student to be permitted to perform his/her first solo flight.

 

Sieh dir diesen Beitrag auf Instagram an

 

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Patrick Biedenkapp | Captain (@pilotpatrick)

3. How long does the training last?

In the aviation business, you always need to be ready for last-minute changes and amendments, which may lengthen the training significantly. Especially when you need VFR flight conditions in Germany during spring, it may take a little bit longer. All in all, it took me 7 weeks to have the entire training including the examination completed.

4. What are the costs of the training?

This depends immensely on the location and the flight school. The cost for a flight instructor course is around 12,000€ in Germany.  Flying is not inexpensive.

how to become a flight instructor

DA20 and C152 for the practical training

5. What are the minimum requirements?

1. Minimum age of 18
2. Valid PPL(A) EASA Part FCL, CPL(A) or ATPL(A) license
3. Valid aviation medical of at least class 2
4. At least 200 flight lessons, including:

  • holding of ATPL(A) or
  • holding of PPL(A) at least 150 hours in command + CPL(A) theory course (e.g. Distance Learning + Classroom instruction) und theoretic CPL(A) test at the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt or another authority
  • at least 30 flight hours on an one-engine aircraft with a piston engine, at least 5 flight hours of which must have been passed within the last six months prior to pre-examination, which is performed by the flight training school
  • at least 10 flight hours of instrument flight training (IR or CVFR), maximum 5 hours of which may be passed on the ground using a simulator or FNPT II
  • at least 20 hours cross country flights being the pilot in command, including one flight, whose flight route is at least 540 km long and which includes at least two landings on airports that differ from the start airport

5. Evidence of CPL(A) knowledge according to EASA Part FCL.915.FI b) (2) i)
(this may be provided by a passed theoretical exam at CPL(A) or ATPL(A))

6. Pre-examination: has to be passed within six months and at the latest one week prior to the start of the training examined by a FI(A) who has been licensed according to EASA Part FCL.905.FI i), based on the proficiency check according to appendix 9.

how to become a flight instructor
how to become a flight instructor

Outfitted with accessories of Porsche Design by Brics

6. How is the training to become a flight instructor structured?

The training is decided in a theoretical and a practical part.

Theoretical training

125 lesson hours of classroom instruction of the subjects:

  • the learning discourse
  • the process of a lesson
  • basics of training
  • applied learning methods on theory and practise
  • evaluation and examination of flight students
  • development of training program
  • human performance with respect to flight training
  • dangers simulating breakdowns during flight training
  • night rating
  • administrative task during the training

Practical training

30 flight lessons on an one-engine aircraft, 25 hours of which have to be flown together with an apprenticeable FI instructor, including 5 exceptional flight conditions on an aerobatic aircraft. 5 flight lessons being part of a team with another applicant for FI(A). The applicant is flying the aircraft sitting on the right-hand side, the FI-I is simulating the student pilot.

how to become a flight instructor
how to become a flight instructor

Closed Tegel airport TXL

7. Which ratings can you add to the flight instructor license?

FI(A) IR Flight instructor aims to teach instrument flying rules (flying without visual references)

FI(A) ME Flight instructor aims to teach on multi-engine aeroplanes.

IRI (A) – Instrument Rating Instructor aims to qualify you as an instructor for training in instrument flight.

CRI SE SPA – class rating instructor single engine single-pilot aircraft has the aim to qualify you as an instructor for single-engine airplane training.

CRI ME SPA – class rating instructor multi engine single-pilot aircraft has the aim to qualify you as an instructor for multi-engine aeroplane training.

MCC Instructor – Multi-Crew Cooperation training is to improve the cockpit coordination between the crew members. The MCC training course is the bridge between the ATPL course and the future workplace within the cockpit environment.

Just to mention a few options on how you can upgrade your pilot license. The foundation sets the flight instructor rating.

how to become a flight instructor

8. When are you going to instructor your first flight student?

TBA announced on my social media channels. In particular on my Instagram channel @pilotpatrick. So make sure to follow me and have the notifications turned on.

9. Which aeroplanes do you fly during the training?

It was back to basics. Instead of flying big birds, it was those little birds we trained on. Flying is costly so the training primarily takes place on two-seater piston engine aircraft like the Diamond DA20 and the Cessna C152. This does not only keep the costs down but the environmental footprint as well. As a rule of thumb, the bigger the aircraft the higher the fuel consumption.

10. How does the examination look like?

Once the theoretical and practical training was done, I was ready for the examination. The examination consisted of three parts. In my case, it took approximately 5 hours to complete. 

  1. Check flight: An examiner checks your flying skills, knowledge about the aeroplane and the regulations. Overall he checks your capability to operate a single-piston aircraft from the right seat and your competency as an instructor. The examiner simulates engine failures, aborted take offs, navigation through landmarks, simulated emergency landing in a field, airwork like steep turns and stalls. Even though it was a check flight, I saw those flights also as training, and there is always something another experienced pilot can pass on to you.
  2. PPL theory: The examiner checks if you are familiar with the entire knowledge a private pilot should possess. He/She may ask you questions about aerodynamics, navigation, meteorology and so on.
  3. Theory class: The examiner checks if you are capable of holding a theory class in front of flight students. He/she basically wants to see that you have the ability to convey knowledge comprehensively.

how to become a flight instructor

Overall I am very happy that I followed my excitement of becoming a flight instructor and I can absolutely recommend getting this rating as well. I could upgrade my airmanship and my proficiency in flying small aeroplanes a lot. I hope you enjoyed my article on how to become a flight instructor. Please do not forget to like the blog post.

It would be fantastic when one of you will be my flight student in the future.

Happy and healthy landings!

Your PilotPatrick


how i became a pilot

How I became a pilot III

Welcome on board of my series of “How I became a pilot". In part three I will talk about the flight training with Pilot Training Network in Zadar and the theory phase back in Frankfurt. Find out which drink was offered to me after landing in Slovakia and which malfunctions I had during one of my first solo flights.

Fleet of Diamond aircraft DA20 and DA40 models in Zadar, Croatia Beautiful views over the Adrian sea during flight training

The structure of the training:

  • 8 weeks of PPL theory classes in Frankfurt (How I became a pilot II)
  • 10 weeks of SE VFR (single engine, visual flight rules) flight training in Zadar
  • 30 weeks of ATPL theory classes in Frankfurt  (ATPL = Airline Transport Pilot License)
  • 8 weeks of IFR flight training in Vero Beach, Florida  (IFR = Instrument flight rules)
  • 4 weeks ME IFR flight training in Zadar, Croatia  (ME = Multi Engine)
  • 1 week MCC course in Frankfurt  (MCC = Multi Crew Coordination)
Younger me as a student pilot with my instructor "Wolle" in Zadar

The entire training in Zadar lasted about 10 weeks. I already had my first solo flight after 11 flight hours with an instructor. On 24th of July 2008 I lifted off the ground in a DA20 all by myself for the very first time. It was really exciting. At first I was nervous, because I wanted to do everything safe and correct. The first flight went really well and after 30 mins I landed safely. It was awesome.

Returning from my first solo flight DA 20 VFR flight training in Zadar (LDZD)

During the first couple of missions we always stayed either in the traffic pattern of Zadar (airport) or in close proximity. In dedicated training areas we practised special flight maneuvers to improve our manual flying skills. First lesson in aviation: aviate, navigate, communicate! Flying has always priority before everything else.

During the aerial work over the Adrian sea we did stalls, steep turns and slow flight. An aircraft being in stall means that the wings do not produce lift anymore, because of the angle of attack being too big. If not corrected may lead to a crash.

Steep turn (45 degrees) in a DA20 aircraft! Like a roller coaster!

Cross country flights

After being familiar with the procedures, the aircraft, the flight patterns and the communication with air traffic control we started flying cross country. Those flights took place between two points (e.g. airports) using navigational techniques. Some missions were flown in a DA40, which is a single piston four seater. One fellow student pilot as observer in the back and the instructor and me in the front. Usually we flew to more distant airports, where we landed and switched seats. Like one day when we flew to a small airport in Slovenia. After landing we were guided by a small motorbike to our parking position to refuel for the next flight. ;-) Before departure the handling guy offered us his self brewed liquor. I guess he wanted to fuel more than the aircraft. This guy was just too funny.

DA40 flight mission - Crew change in Solvakia

The flight training was a lot of fun. Nevertheless the pressure to be a good student pilot was high and the program did not leave a lot of space for deficiencies. This required additionally studying when on ground. Everything was new to me and especially at the beginning I had to take care that I fly the airplane and not the airplane me.

Pilotsview - Croatian islands in the Adrian Sea

Technical problems

I remember one special event during a solo cross country flight. During the approach to Pula airport I encountered problems with the engine. It did not run smooth at all. That is why I decided to stay in close proximity to the airport to figure out the problem and in case the propeller stops to glide to the runway. (We actually learn this procedure and do it simulated)  Luckily I managed to fly back to the home base safely. I informed our maintenance about the malfunction. In the end the airplane was grounded for several days.

The weeks in Croatia past by really fast. Not only because of the flying, but also because of the activities our course did together. Up in the air we have already seen how beautiful the landscape was. Krka water falls and the surrounding nature reserve is a great example.

Excursion to Krka water falls - Must see

ATPL theory

Back in Germany the ATPL theory phase began. That meant studying intensively. We learned the entire knowledge to be prepared for the final exams at the LBA (german aviation authority). It would take over 8 months before being back in a cockpit flying.

The legendary DC6 visiting Zadar Airport

Most of the questions of the final exams were in a multiple choice style. Over the years 1000 of possible of questions leaked to flight schools and to training programs like Peters software. Many students just learnt the questions and the answers to them without understanding them. I thought this is quite risky method for studying and plus I wanted to understand what I am doing in the future. My method proofed me more than right. This time the LBA changed a lot on their questions and added a lot to their question bank. In the end only five students (including me) of 20 students passed the exam at the first attempt. The exam consisted of 12 subjects which could be written on three consecutive days.  

First selfies out of the cockpit

Subjects

General Navigation, Meteorology, Radio Navigation, Principle of flight/aerodynamics (my favorite subject), Human Resources, Air Law, Power plant, Instrument/ Electronics, Flight Planning, Operational Procedures, Performance, Mass and Balance

My ATPL theory results

Since I passed the exam right away, I was allowed to proceed with the second flight training phase. Surprisingly it was not going to take place in Zadar. Read the next part of how I became a pilot.

Have you been to Croatia before?

Your Pilot Patrick

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