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FAA Indicates Improvements Desired, But No Regulatory Changes Coming In CFI Renewal Process

NAFI HEADQUARTERS, ALLEGAN, MICH. (December 7, 2010) – The National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI), representatives of other aviation organizations, and flight instructor renewal clinic (FIRC) providers met with representatives from the FAA’s AFS-800 division in Washington, D.C. this week to discuss “Updating the Flight instructor Renewal Process to Enhance Safety of Flight.” The meeting was the result of the FAA’s indication that it has “been reviewing indicators that suggest that the process currently in place (by which flight instructors renew their certificates) may lack sufficient effectiveness in ensuring that CFIs are being provided the best information in the most useful manner.”

“The impetus behind the meeting wasn’t that the FAA sees a significant problem with flight instructors, but that it was part of the agency’s overall goal to reduce the accident rate in general aviation, which has been flat in recent years per 100,000 hours of operational activity,” said NAFI Executive Director Jason Blair. “The FAA sees flight instructors as an important part of the solution of helping to decrease that overall accident rate.”

Participants’ initial concerns related to whether the FAA would continue to allow flight instructors to renew their certificates using the FIRC process, plus a broader concern that the FAA was attempting to increase the requirements and continuing education processes flight instructors would be subjected to in order to renew their certificates.

While Blair said the FAA didn’t indicate that it considers the FIRC process to be broken, the agency is looking ahead. “Changes are coming, and the FAA will evaluate what it needs to do to address training in those upcoming changes,” he said.

Agency officials indicated that, in some cases, FIRCs have served a great service over the years and help keep instructors up to date—maybe better than renewals granted through the active-instruction renewal process, Blair said. So much so, that requiring instructors to attend FIRCs every two years to promote continued involvement in regular educational updates is on the table.

“The FAA indicated that it’s not expected that any regulatory change will be made in the renewal process at this time,” Blair said. “The discussion was focused on continually improving the quality of material that flight instructors encounter in their renewal process.”

The goal is professional, knowledgeable flight instructors who can provide effective instruction for their clients, Blair said. “NAFI certainly agrees with this goal, along with the continued ability of flight instructors to renew their certificates under current regulatory processes until such a time that any more appropriate process can be validated by the FAA or through collaboration with the industry.”

Last week NAFI conducted a survey of its members to explore some of the discussions expected at the meeting. The results of this survey and the comments received from its members helped NAFI explain the concerns of the flight-instructor community. “It was my pleasure to share the comments and concerns of the NAFI membership with the FAA and other industry representatives at this meeting,” Blair said.

The survey results, along with comments submitted to the FAA at the outset of the meeting, can be viewed at www.NAFInet.org.

As a leading organization in the flight instruction community and the organization that represents the largest number of flight instructors in the United States, NAFI will remain involved in this and any future discussions relating to the CFI renewal process to represent flight instructors throughout the country. NAFI will continue to seek the input of its members to provide further insight to the FAA and the industry.

The National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) is an international organization dedicated to raising and maintaining the professional standing of flight instructors. NAFI is the largest flight instructor association with over 5,000 active members. NAFI has served as the voice of aviation education since inception in 1967 and serves the full spectrum of the flight instructor community.

NAFI Comments to FAA Regarding FIRC Meeting

For more information contact: Jason Blair, Executive Director NAFI (866) 806-6156 [email protected]