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Jobs in aviation: How to become an EASA flight instructor?

In the wake of the Corona crisis, some people are thinking about building up a second career - alongside flying or even in another area of aviation. One possibility is to pass on one's knowledge to other pilots or those who want to become pilots. Either as a theory instructor or as a flight instructor.

When a Colgan Air Dash-8 Q400 crashed in New York State in February 2009, it had far-reaching consequences for the US pilot market. Overtiredness played a major role in this accident. Nevertheless, in 2010 Congress decided to raise the bar for airline pilots significantly. A total flight experience of 250 hours in the airline application became 1,500 hours. This was despite the fact that both pilots, who played a role in the crash, had significantly more than 1,500 hours of flight experience. For prospective pilots in the USA, the new regulation made it impossible to land in the airline cockpit directly from flight school. Thus, for most young pilots, the path after the practical test leads back to flight school and to further training, namely that of a flight instructor.

The job of flight instructor should not really be understood as a "means to an end". Of course, you gain a lot of flying experience quickly, but the passion for the profession plays a big role here. Ultimately, the aim is to shape young pilots into even better aviators than oneself.

Higher requirements for flight instructors

In Europe, the requirements for flight instructors were significantly tightened with the introduction of the EASA regulations, officially called "EU-FCL", in 2011. While previously, training as a flight instructor only required a PPL, it now necessitates at least a passed CPL theory exam. For this very reason, many associations expect a shortage of flight instructors in a few years, as hardly any pilots, who only have a PPL are likely to take the big hurdle of a CPL theory course and exam just for FI training. It can therefore be assumed that almost every "new" flight instructor already has at least a CPL license.

Further requirements

To pursue a license beyond the LAPL, it is necessary to hold a minimum of a PPL with a successfully completed CPL theory exam, or alternatively, possess a CPL license directly.

In addition, 200 hours of flight time must be completed, 150 of which must be as PIC (Pilot-In-Command) and at least 10 hours of IFR. One must have flown 30 hours on SEP aircraft, 5 hours of which must have been flown in the last five months. In addition, a 300NM VFR cross-country flight with two full-stop landings must have taken place. The minimum age is 18 years.

The training

The flight instructor training consists of a 125h theory block and 30h practical training at an ATO. Before the training, the ATO must conduct a so-called pre-test flight (assessment of competence) to determine the applicant's suitability for the training.

The training is followed by a theory and practical examination. The theory training also includes a 30h block of the module "Teaching and Learning", which also qualifies for further ratings such as TRI (Type Rating Instructor) or MCCI (Multi-Crew-Coordination Instructor).

As a flight instructor (FI = Flight Instructor), it is thus possible to acquire additional qualifications with increasing experience.

After completing the training, passing the examination and applying for the rating, you receive the entry in your license: FI (A) rp PPL, SE SP, night. "rp" stands for "Restricted Privileges", i.e. the instructor is not allowed to authorize first solo flights or first solo cross-country flights. Similarly, training is not permitted for Single-Silot High Complex aircraft.

The "rp" phase comprises 100h of training time under supervision. During this time, the young flight instructor is supervised by an experienced flight instructor from the ATO at which he is undergoing the candidate phase. In addition, he must have supervised at least 25 solo flights in order to successfully complete the candidate phase. Thereafter, the applicant may apply for a full FI rating.

In principle, an instructor may give training in the ratings he holds himself. Thus, "SE SP" means Single Engine, Single Pilot. If the applicant holds a SEP rating and a TMG rating (powered sailplane), he may instruct on both aircrafts.

Differences between CRI and FI

The CRI (Class Rating Instructor) is a teaching authorization that is much cheaper and faster to obtain. The FI (Flight Instructor) includes the rights of the CRI. As a CRI, one is authorized to conduct flight instruction for the issuance, revalidation, and renewal of class or type ratings for single-pilot aircraft (except for technically complex single-pilot high-performance aircraft). LAPL(A) holders can receive instruction in other types of aircraft. It is also allowed to train for a towing or aerobatic rating if you are the holder of this rating yourself and have demonstrated this ability to a qualified FI-I (flight instructor-instructor) or examiner during a practical competency assessment. The main difference to the FI is therefore that no beginners can be trained, only pilots who already hold a license. Unlike the FI, the CRI does not require proof of CPL knowledge, which greatly simplifies the acquisition of the CRI for many PPL holders.

Requirements for the CRI

For the CRI on single-engine aircraft, 300h of flight hours must be demonstrated, 30h of which must be as PIC on the appropriate class. For multi-engine aircraft, 500h of flight experience is mandatory.

The training as CRI

The flight instructor training consists of a 35-hour theory course as well as 5h of practical training for multi-engine aircraft and 3h for single-engine aircraft. Finally, the training is completed with a practical examination.

Further training opportunities

There are many further training opportunities for the pure FI (Flight Instructor), such as becoming an instructor for Instrument Flight (FI-IR), Multi-Engine Instructor (ME SP),

instructor for the flight instructor rating (instructor) or an instructor for aerobatics (aerobatic). The pure advanced training courses usually comprise only a few theory hours and approx. 3-5h flight training with a flight instructor and subsequent examination (competence assessment). To pursue these further training courses, specific teaching or flight experience must be demonstrated. For the multi-engine instructor this is e.g. 30h flight time as pilot in command (PIC) on multi-engine aircraft with piston engines. The instructor for Instrument Flight requires 200 hours of flight experience under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR).

Training costs

The cost of training for the FI in Germany is about 8,000 to 12,000 euros, depending on the flight school and aircraft type. There is the possibility of funding or even having the training costs covered by the Federal Employment Agency, which should definitely be checked before starting the training. For the further ratings as FI (e.g. multi-engine instructor or instructor for instrument flight) the costs are correspondingly lower, since fewer training hours are required (see "Training as CRI").

Job opportunities and compensation

Due to the increased entry requirements for flight instructors compared to the previous years, clubs in particular anticipate a shortage of flight instructors in a few years.

The average salary for flight instructors at commercial flight schools in the PPL range is 15 to 25 Euro net per flight hour. Depending on the weather, a maximum of 2, in exceptional cases 3 students are possible per day. Flight instructors typically have a duty period of 10 hours, allowing for a realistic flight time of 3-6 hours per day, considering the necessary time for briefings and debriefings. CPL and IFR instructors are often paid double the standard hourly rates. The flight instructor traineeship (see "rp-phase") is often not remunerated. In the association, flight instructors are usually engaged on a voluntary basis.

Most of the time, employment as a flight instructor is done on a freelance basis, with an assumed monthly income of 3,000 euros gross during the summer months, based on a rate of 25 euros per hour and 6 hours of flight time per day for 5 working days per week. However, it is important to note that in winter months, flight operations may be disrupted for weeks due to weather conditions such as snow or fog. As a result, some individuals may choose to pursue a role as a theory instructor, where hourly rates of 25 - 35 euros net are common.

It is also feasible to work as a theory instructor without holding an FI or CRI rating. In such cases, it is necessary to demonstrate sufficient expertise in the subject matter to the relevant authority. This can be achieved through practical experience or academic pursuits within the field.


For those who would like to further their education and pass on their knowledge, but for whom the training as an FI is too expensive and lengthy, it is relatively easy to slip into the role of a flight instructor as a CRI.

However, if you want to gain a foothold as a flight instructor and really train from the ground up, then there is no way around training as an FI.

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