Everyone’s eyes are on the post-pandemic pilot shortage as the industry is hurting for qualified pilots and who will be training them. I think the question poses itself. Are Flight Instructors In Demand?
Are Flight Instructors In Demand?
Demand for flight Instructors has never been higher. Boeings’ projections, (2021-2040), of 612,000 pilots, down 20% from the previous prediction of 766,000 in 2020 speak volumes. It equates to an enormous need for Flight Instructors. I think the numbers are truthfully above the original prediction, Yes! Flight Instructors are in demand.
1. How Do You Become A Flight Instructor?
Minimum requirements for a Flight Instructor certificate are being a commercially rated pilot with an instrument rating, (or ATP), at least 18 years of age, a minimum of 250 flight hours, and a 3rd class medical certificate. Please read the FAR’S (Federal Aviation Regulations,) for a detailed list of qualifications.
A genuine desire to teach your skill of flying is very helpful since a “bit of patience” must be exhibited. Being patient is a trait that one should acquire before embarking too far into an instruction position because if you are prone to overreact when you become frustrated it will not be well received by your students or your employer.
A new Instructor will be relying heavily upon their experience with past Instructors as a guide.
Let’s be clear that anyone seeking this certificate has spent a lot of money to get this far working towards a career in aviation. It will cost even more for the CFI, (certified flight instructor), certification but the end result is a possible flying job!
2. Should You Become A Flight Instructor?
Flight instruction is a very rewarding vocation for several reasons and not just from the instruction of flight.
Your students are only as good as you make them so your responsibility is great. You will be well rewarded with your accomplishments as an instructor in the form of accolades from your students and quite possibly with your DPE (Designated Pilot Examiner), or the FAA.
You will find solid lasting friendships with your students sometimes lifelong friends. This will form your reputation with each flight and these people may play key roles in your aviation career.
A Flight Instructor that loves to fly will teach with a passion that overflows into the experience of learning. A day in the life of a flight instructor.
3. Is Flight Instruction Fun?
Flight instruction can be one of the most pleasing experiences that you will ever have as a pilot.
There is a great deal of satisfaction in knowing that you have taught a person how to operate a flying machine safely and to watch as they excel in their chosen profession of Aviation.
Something to remember is that you will never stop teaching people how to fly as the co-pilots that come aboard to fly with you will need to be taught many things that are not taught in-flight training.
During my years of flying as a Captain in a Part 135 operation, I had many Pilots that showed up with around 1,000 hours that really didn’t have a clue how to fly an airplane in weather. That’s not to say they weren’t great pilots they were just never out in the real world. Flying around the pattern or out in the practice area is not a place where you learn to fly in the hard weather.
Many of these Pilots went on to become Captains with some of the major airlines in America and that to me is a compliment to my abilities.
Alongside the satisfaction of teaching people how to fly aircraft is the knowledge that you are one step closer each hour that you log toward your coveted Airline position.
4. Can a Low Time CFI Get A Job
A low-time certified flight instructor can easily acquire a job as a flight instructor but it all depends on how and where you go about receiving your certificate.
By this, I mean that accredited colleges and flight schools can place you in a position upon graduation from their program.
Low-time instructors may be lucky enough to find a job at a local Flight School, or you can freelance on your own.
With all of the lower time minimums that the airlines are advertising at the moment, it is possible that you might find yourself in the right seat of a regional airliner with low time, likely about 500 hours, but the minimums do change often so do your research and keep an eye on airlines that are hiring low time Pilots.
This is a time in aviation history that I do not remember ever occurring and that is an airline offering a sign-on bonus. I recently read an article about Mesa Airlines offering a $20,000.00 sign-on bonus. That was unheard of when I began flying!
All that is important at this time in your Aviation career is that each hour you log puts you closer to your airline position. If you want to work 25 hours a week you can have your coveted Airline transport pilot hour qualification done in a year.
5. Is Flight Instruction Dangerous?
Everything that involves the operation of equipment is dangerous.
Aviation is a bit more dangerous because of the outcome of an ill-fated flight.
The best we can do is to be assured that we have all of the information available, an aircraft that is airworthy, and an attitude that we will succeed in the flight. This is the only means to assure a safe outcome.
Considering that flying is the safest mode of transportation, I would venture to say that Aviation is by far the least dangerous of all of the choices at hand.
Each pilot is truly the Captain of his own destiny.
I often use the quote, “Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous but it is totally unforgiving of any inability, incapacity, or neglect.”
Although I did not teach a great number of primary students, that is the ones that were just starting out. My time as an instructor was during the years flying as a company training officer and company Check Airman.
I encourage anyone that has a desire to become a commercial pilot to become a flight instructor. The experience and knowledge you gain in this scenario are essential in becoming a very proficient and safe pilot.
I realize that the expense of finally acquiring a flight instructor certificate is substantial. Since the wages of Pilots have increased dramatically in the past few years I really don’t see that it is a problem to earn the money back to repay your training expense.
During my early years finding a flight instructor position was nearly impossible because of all of the Vietnam Pilots that were returning during the years I was training.
That scenario is far in the past so I encourage anyone with an interest in flying at mostly any age, right now is the time to strike if you want to learn to fly
If I were in the situation I would attend an accelerated ATP Flight School that will graduate you as an airline transport pilot and guarantee that you get an interview for a position with a regional or major airline all within a two-year period.
But there are many ways to do it it’s up to you to choose.
As always fly safely…….. Let’s go flying.
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