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Fresh off the Flight Instructor Course (UK)

I started the CPL exams 12 months ago, and last week I passed the FI and CRI assessment of competence.

Whilst I spread the CPL exams over 8 months and fitted them in around work commitments, the FI course itself was done on a full time (Monday-Friday) basis at Andrewsfield (EGSL). I started on 1 August and passed the AoC on 1 September. We lost only one day to bad weather, meaning that it was an intensive course – but hugely enjoyable.

From a personal progress perspective, the FI course was no different to my experience of IR training: progress is not linear and there were flights (usually on Fridays) when you felt you had taken 10 steps backwards.

My thanks to the professional and highly knowledgeable instructors at Andrewsfield, as well as to @DavidC who trod a similar path a few years ago and whose website is an invaluable source of information.

If anyone is considering obtaining the FI certificate, I am happy to answer questions about my experience of the CPL theory and FI course – just post here or send me a PM.

As with any licence or rating, it is a licence to learn. So the search for a school with an opening for a restricted PPL/LAPL flight instructor begins. If any members know of any such opportunities around London or the South East, please send me a message!

FI & CRI (London/South East)
EGKB (Biggin Hill), United Kingdom

MarkW wrote:

passed the FI and CRI assessment of competence.

Isn’t CRI privileges included in the FI rating?

ESKC (Uppsala/Sundbro), Sweden

FI has CRI privileges but I recall once the (R) is lifted (hours & solo), the FI(R) needs to be attached to DTO/ATO and supervised and will not fly with qualified pilots without it, one way around this is to get CRI+FI(R) done in one go

The distinction is moot as in practice most CRIs are also attached to DTO/ATO anyway…

PS: Congrats MarkW !

Last Edited by Ibra at 08 Sep 17:56
Paris/Essex, France/UK, United Kingdom

Congratulations, @MarkW

Will you be instructing as a career, or are you working towards an airline pilot job?

most CRIs are also attached to DTO/ATO anyway…

Maybe this is country dependent but here in the UK most CRIs I know are freelance. They do mostly PPL class rating revalidations – those who have the FCL745 add-on. These people do the reval for a lot less money – or for a beer Actually schools dislike CRIs because they can be seen as competing with “proper” FIs. When the CRI privilege originally came out, the industry was most unhappy about it, seeing it as an “instructor via the back door”.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Yes very country dependent, maybe lot in UK with many equity shared groups around Part21 aircraft and private “complex” owners (although non-Part21 aircraft, like most tailwheels or permits, you have to end up in DTO/ATO to instruct on these), freelance is unheard of in France, most of CRI/FI work is in DTO like Aeroclubs anyway with FFA membership and FAA insurance

PS: you mean FCL945 add-on to do FCL740 revalidation, FCL745 is UPRT

Last Edited by Ibra at 08 Sep 19:33
Paris/Essex, France/UK, United Kingdom

Actually most FIs in France are freelance in the way @Peter described for the UK.
Very few DTOs or ATOs here have salaried instructors. But at the PPL and club level the vast majority are benévol ie do not receive payment other than some expenses.


You mean most FI in France operate outside ATO schools & DTO aeroclubs without being under FFA insurance & manuals? I am not aware there are that many (there is not that much business anyway other than occasional SEP revalidation in a privately owned Part21 aircraft)

I think you are referring to “freelance: bénévolat, entrepreneur” in context of work payments which is not the same thing as “freelance: supervised, attached” in the context of pilot training…

Last Edited by Ibra at 09 Sep 06:58
Paris/Essex, France/UK, United Kingdom

It depends on the detail. Here (UK) most FIs are freelance (i.e. self employed / sole traders), but working for only one school and paid by the “student flying” hour (multiple hourly income possible if you send multiple students off on a solo flight), plus a daily retainer which in my days was £20/hr or so. Most non-FI CRIs I know are just freelance, because they can’t do much in a school.

In the “CPL/IR FTO” sausage machine system, I don’t know the FIs’ tax arrangements. They may be salaried.

Most FIs I have known were working towards airline jobs. I never quite worked out why they (some) needed to “build hours” because they already had the CPL/IR and the exams (called “frozen ATPL”); maybe building towards the 1500hrs TT needed for ATPL issue (which also needs 500hrs in a multi pilot cockpit, in Europe).

Most CRIs I have known did the CRI as a “self improvement” thing, not as any kind of revenue generator (which it can’t be, because you can’t train anything ab initio, and practically nobody is doing ME stuff, etc).

I have known some who did the FI as a “self improvement” thing but this is very rare because it is so much work for little income, and nowadays you have to do the CPL written exams. Without those you can train LAPL only. In France in years past you could train the full PPL up to the point where one could no longer pretend it is not the LAPL

In France and elsewhere it is different (this is all country dependent) and e.g. in France FIs get paid a bit of money, not just raw expenses – from my recollection years ago. In the real world, very few people will work for nothing, long term, unless you are ok with a good % of weird / power-mad people, like in any volunteer organisation

However, this is a digression

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

As @Ibra wrote, the FI is initially “restricted” until completing 100 hours of instruction and supervising at least 25 student solo flights.

Whilst the FI certificate contains CRI privileges, the restriction applies to all activities performed under the FI certificate. So a restricted Flight Instructor performing the “1 hour with an instructor” for the purpose of SEP revalidation would need to be linked to a DTO/ATO and supervised by an unrestricted Flight Instructor.

Having a stand-alone CRI certificate removes this requirement.

The FI course satisfies the groundschool and flight requirements for the CRI certificate, and there is a singular Assessment of Competence flight, but you finish with two sets of paperwork (a course completion certificate and examiners report for each certificate) – and of course two sets of fees payable to the CAA.

@Peter: No airline aspirations – that’s why I took the CPL theory rather than ATPL (although the CPL TK syllabus has ballooned and by the end of the course I estimated the ATPL uplift vs the CPL to be modest – 20% or so – there are other threads on that topic). At the outset, I would welcome a full-time instructor role in order to build experience. In future and when unrestricted, I would look to add IR and IRR instruction privileges. I am just 20 hours shy of the minimum 200 hours IFR time required for the former.

Last Edited by MarkW at 09 Sep 07:34
FI & CRI (London/South East)
EGKB (Biggin Hill), United Kingdom

@MarkW congratulations and hopefully you find a good ATO/DTO which allows you to become un restricted.

I took the route to FI as I approached 60 and paid my dues at an ATO. I had plenty of MEP and IR hours from previous work, and my goal was to become an MEP/IR instructor, which I accomplished. I still had to pay my dues doing PPL instruction and picked up an Aerobatic rating (this was pre rating days, but my restriction on instructing aerobatics was removed). Paying your dues is probably a good two years, during which time you are either living on pension income or savings! When I started, I think a restricted FI earned around £18 per hour, for hour flown. In UK weather that means some months earnings were negligible. Colleagues, mainly young fATPL pilots waiting for an airline job, would be doing side jobs.

I switched to an integrated school five years ago and at these schools you are typically salaried, and earnings are respectable. I also picked up an MPL ticket, and while I was on the school’s UPRT programme, I still had to pick up an A-UPRT ticket when these programs became a requirement for a type rating. I also do some part time A-UPRT work.

The young instructors are typically in the industry because they are waiting for an airline job, and can’t afford a type rating straight out of frozen ATPL qualification. Some airlines have, or had, programs for hiring instructors but in Europe few airlines are looking for hours above what is required on an integrated course. In fact some might wonder why the candidate needed ‘extra training’. Other airlines credit instructional hours towards seniority on the roster, usually at a factor of 0.3x for SEP and 0.6x for MEP. It’s good that some airlines pay some recognition to old school GA experience. In theory an FO with an FI background will at least not be penalised for having worked in the salt mines of instructing.

Oxford (EGTK), United Kingdom
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