FIRC FAQs

AOPA Air Safety FoundationI need to renew my flight instructor certificate within the next few months. What are my options?

Answer: You have several options available to you, each with their own advantages. They are:

  • Attend an approved Flight Instructor Refresher Course (FIRC).
  • Take an online Flight Instructor Refresher Course (eFIRC)
  • Take a practical test with the FAA or an authorized designated examiner.
  • Present a record of training showing that during the past 24 months you have endorsed at least five students for a practical test, and at least 80 percent (four students) passed on the first attempt.
  • Present a record that shows within the past 24 months that you have served as a company check pilot, chief flight instructor, company check airman, or flight instructor in a Part 121 or Part 135 operation, or in a position involving the regular evaluation of pilots in which the FAA inspector is acquainted with the duties and responsibilities of the position, and has satisfactory knowledge of its current pilot training, certification, and standards.

I understand that the FAA requires positive identification of the applicant when submitting an 8710 form. What do I need to bring with me to accomplish this?

Answer: You need a government issued photo ID (e.g., U.S. driver's license, passport, government identification, or military identification card).

FAR 61.197 allows you to submit an application for renewal within four-months of your certificate's expiration date and still retain your original expiration month. How do you determine that renewal window? Does the 4 month period start the day of your FIRC graduation?

Answer: No. The renewal window is four calendar months prior to your expiration date. For example, if your certificate expires in July, you could complete a FIRC as early as April 1 and you would retain your original expiration date of July.

What happens if I take a FIRC program more than four months in advance of my expiration date?

Answer: If you take the FIRC more than four months prior to your expiration month, your new expiration date will be the end of the month in which you took the FIRC.

What advantage is it to allow ASI to handle the paperwork to revalidate my CFI? Can't I just drop in at the local FSDO, show them my ASI FIRC graduation certificate, and let them take care of it?

Answer: Unlike other FIRC providers, ASI does not charge extra for processing your CFI revalidation, and allowing ASI to handle the revalidation will save you an immense amount of hassle. If you decide to take your renewal program paperwork to the local FSDO yourself, be aware that you can no longer just walk into the FSDO. You must make an appointment - well in advance, in most cases - and be prepared to go through identification procedures. Also, all the extra security duties that have been assigned to FAA inspectors leave them with precious little time for routine duties, such as renewing CFI certificates. There have been cases where CFIs declined ASI's offer to renew their certificates, and then were unable to get an appointment with an FAA inspector until it was too late.

What is ASI's four month guarantee?

Renew your CFI through ASI, either live or online, no more than four months prior to your expiration date. When done in accordance with FAR 61.197b, and ASI handles your renewal paperwork, we guarantee you'll keep your original expiration date. For example, if your certificate expires August 31st, you may complete a FIRC anytime in May, June, July, or August and retain the August 31st expiration.

What if my flight instructor certificate has expired? Can I still renew on the basis of graduating from a FIRC?

Answer: No, you must hold a valid, unexpired flight instructor certificate at the time you submit your application for renewal. Although attendance at a FIRC certainly would be beneficial from a knowledge standpoint, it could not be used as the basis for your renewal.

What are my options for renewal if my instructor certificate has expired?

Answer: You have only one option — a checkride. The FAA refers to this as a "reinstatement." In most areas, this means a ride with your local FAA inspector, but some flight standards district offices (FSDOs) have authorized designated examiners to handle reinstatements. The good news is that you don't need to take a knowledge test, and one ride will suffice to renew all the ratings listed on that expired flight instructor certificate.

I hold a flight instructor certificate with airplane and helicopter ratings. Will attendance at a FIRC program renew both ratings, or must I attend one program for my airplane rating and another for my helicopter rating?

Answer: You may attend any FIRC program and renew all the ratings on your flight instructor certificate.

Do I need to turn in my instructor certificate? 

Answer: No but you will need to turn in a legible (preferably color) copy of your flight instructor certificate along with your 8710.

I was able to renew my certificate two years ago by taking it to the local FSDO and having it reissued based on the inspector's personal knowledge of me. I don't see that option listed under FAR 61.197. What happened?

Answer: That option still exists but is not formally recognized in the regulations. An FAA inspector may renew your flight instructor certificate based on his or her personal knowledge of you as a flight instructor. You may, however, find inspectors reluctant to exercise this option.

I recently added an instrument rating to my flight instructor certificate. I received my original certificate 12 months ago. Do I need to renew my original flight instructor certificate in another 12 months (24 months from the original issuance), or does the rating I just added to my instructor rating extend the renewal period?

Answer: An additional flight instructor rating "resets" the renewal clock. Because you were issued a new rating on your flight instructor certificate, you should have a certificate with an expiration date 24 months from the date you obtained that rating. That new date is your expiration date.

If I became ill or was forced to discontinue the program due to a family emergency, what would happen? Would I have to repeat the program, or would the FAA accept the circumstances and renew my certificate?

Answer: To receive a graduation certificate, you must complete the FIRC program. If sickness or some other type of emergency forces you to discontinue, you will be issued a certificate of partial completion listing the number of hours you attended. To obtain a graduation certificate, you must complete the remaining hours at your earliest convenience, but in no case later than the expiration date on your instructor certificate. One of the advantages of attending an ASI course is that we offer many programs across the nation, making it easy to complete the course. There is no additional charge for attending a second live ASI FIRC if, for emergency reasons, you were unable to complete the first one. You may also switch to the Online Flight Instructor Refresher Course (eFIRC). We will issue a refund for the tuition fee less $30 for the ASI course kit.

I have a graduation certificate from a FIRC program I attended more than 3 months ago. I had intended to submit my application to the local FSDO right after the program, but work schedules and other problems caused a delay. Can I still renew my flight instructor certificate using my graduation certificate from the FIRC program I attended, or am I out of luck?

Answer: Unfortunately, you're out of luck. But you are really out of luck if your CFI certificate also has expired. Your FIRC graduation certificate expires three calendar months after the month of issuance for the purposes of the renewal. For example, if you completed the FIRC in April, your FIRC graduation certificate can only be used for the renewal of your certificate until the end of July. If you have enough time before your certificate expires, you may enroll in another FIRC, show you have endorsed at least five students for a practical test (80% must pass), or exercise other options outlined in FAR 61.197.
The graduation certificate itself is good for 120 days as proof that you have completed a FIRC for your renewal which is essentially your temporary certificate until you receive your new plastic card from the FAA.

My medical certificate expired last month, and I have not had time to get a new one. Do I need a current medical certificate to renew my flight instructor certificate at your program?

Answer: No. A current medical is not required to renew your flight instructor certificate. In fact, a current medical is not even required to instruct as long as you do not act as the pilot in command of the aircraft.

When filling out the 8710 application form for my renewal, do I need to complete section III, Record of Pilot Time, when submitting an application for renewal?

Answer: There is no requirement to complete the record of pilot time section of the 8710 form for a flight instructor renewal. You may, however, want to do this for other reasons. It might serve as possible proof of previous time should you lose your logbooks.

My schedule will not allow me to devote a full weekend to a FIRC program. Can I attend and spend a day at one location and then finish the program requirements at a different location on a different day?

Answer: The FAA has not provided any real guidance on this question, nor does the regulation prohibit it. The live FIRC program was not designed to be taken over an extended period of time. You may instead, consider taking the Online Flight Instructor Refresher Course (eFIRC) course.

I just discovered that my flight instructor certificate is missing, and I'm scheduled to attend a FIRC program next week. Will this prevent me from renewing, or can I submit an application form without my instructor certificate?

Answer: You must submit a copy of your flight instructor certificate with an application form. If your certificate is lost, you may request a faxed confirmation notice directly from the FAA by calling 405/954-3261. This confirmation notice may be used in lieu of the actual certificate. You also can contact your local FSDO for assistance.

Which renewal method should I choose?

Answer: The one that fits your particular lifestyle and time constraints. Each renewal method has its advantages and disadvantages. Attending a FIRC program has a number of advantages over other methods, including a renewal based on student activity. Not only does it provide you with the latest information on regulations, technology, and teaching techniques, it also provides you with an opportunity to network with other flight instructors in your area. The Online Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics (eFIRC) provides the latest information and can be done at your convenience at home.

How can I get more information on the dates, times, and locations of your programs?

Answer: The Air Safety Institute offers FIRCs throughout the United States. Of course, the simplest way is to register online for the live weekend course NOW! You also can call 800/638-3101 and talk to one of our course registration specialists. They can help you locate a course that is convenient and take your registration right over the phone. The online Flight Instructor Refresher Course (eFIRC) is available anytime at www.efirc.org.