Chapter 7. Instructor Responsibilities and Professionalism

Practical Test

Provision is made on the airman certificate or rating application form for the written recommendation of the flight instructor who has prepared the applicant for the practical test involved. Signing this recommendation imposes a serious responsibility on the flight instructor. A flight instructor who makes a practical test recommendation for an applicant seeking a certificate or rating should require the applicant to thoroughly demonstrate the knowledge and skill level required for that certificate or rating. This demonstration should in no instance be less than the complete procedure prescribed in the applicable PTS.

When the instructor endorses the applicant for the practical test, his or her signature on the FAA form 8710-1 Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application is valid for 60 days. This is also true with the flight proficiency endorsement that is placed in the applicant’s logbook or training record (AC-61-65). These two dates should be the same.

Completion of prerequisites for a practical test is another instructor task that must be documented properly. Examples of all common endorsements can be found in the current issue of AC 61-65, appendix 1. This appendix also includes references to 14 CFR part 61 for more details concerning the requirements that must be met to qualify for each respective endorsement. The examples shown contain the essential elements of each endorsement. It is not necessary for all endorsements to be worded exactly as those in the AC. For example, changes to regulatory requirements may affect the wording, or the instructor may customize the endorsement for any special circumstances of the applicant. However, at a minimum, the instructor needs to cite the appropriate 14 CFR part 61 section that has been completed.

If a flight instructor fails to ensure a student pilot or additional rating pilot meets the requirements of regulations prior to making endorsements to allow solo flight or additional rating, that instructor is exhibiting a serious deficiency in performance. The FAA holds him or her accountable. Providing a solo endorsement for a student pilot who is not proficient for solo flight operations, or providing an endorsement for an additional rating for a pilot not meeting the appropriate regulatory requirements, is also a breach of faith with the student or applicant.

Professional Development

Aviation is changing rapidly, and aviation instructors must continue to develop their knowledge and skills in order to teach successfully in this environment. The aviation instructor is well respected by other technicians and pilots because instructors must meet additional training requirements in order to be certificated. Flight instructors undergo comprehensive evaluations and a practical test to obtain a flight instructor certificate. 14 CFR part 147 requires all instructors teaching maintenance subjects to hold an FAA certificate as an aircraft maintenance technician.

Successful, professional aviation instructors do not become complacent or satisfied with their own qualifications and abilities, and are constantly alert for ways to improve their qualifications, effectiveness, and the services they provide to students. Considered by their students to be a source of up-to-date information, instructors have the opportunity and responsibility of introducing new procedures and techniques both to their students and to other aviation professionals with whom they come in contact.

Continuing Education

A professional aviation instructor continually updates his or her knowledge and skills. This goal is attained in a variety of ways, such as reading an article in a technical publication or taking a course at a technical school. There are many different sources of information the aviation instructor can use in order to remain current in aviation knowledge and teaching.


One of the first educational sources for the instructor is the FAA and other governmental agencies. The FAA either sponsors or collaborates in sponsoring aviation programs, seminars, and workshops for the public. For example, the FAA conducts safety seminars around the country in conjunction with the aviation industry. These seminars, although directed at pilots, can be a useful source of knowledge for aviation instructors.

The FAA is a rich source of information that can be used to enhance an instructor’s knowledge. Regulations, advisory circulars, airworthiness directives, orders, and notices are some of the documents that can be downloaded from the FAA website at

As mentioned earlier in the chapter, participation in the Pilot Proficiency Awards Program is a good way for a flight instructor to improve proficiency and to serve as an example to students. Another way is to work toward the Gold Seal Flight Instructor Certificate. Accomplishing the requirements of the certificate is evidence the instructor has performed at a very high level as a flight instructor. See AC 61-65, Certification: Pilots and Flight and Ground Instructors, for a list of requirements for earning this certificate.

Similarly, the Aviation Maintenance Awards Program affords the aviation maintenance instructor the opportunity for increased education through attendance at FAA or industry maintenance training seminars. Details for the awarding of bronze through diamond pins can be found in AC 65-25, Aviation Maintenance Technician Awards Program.

The FAA approves the sponsors who conduct Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics (FIRCs) in accordance with AC 61-83. Nationally scheduled FAA-approved industry-conducted Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics (FIRC). These courses are available for flight instructors to complete the training requirements for renewal of flight instructor certificates.

The FAA cosponsors Inspection Authorization (IA) seminars. These seminars are open to all maintenance technicians, and are a good source of additional training and education for maintenance instructors.

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