If you're a flight instructor getting ready to return to the right seat, are you "current" on everything you need before your student advances the throttle?
"There's a new wrinkle to getting back into the instruction business," said Woody Cahall, AOPA vice president of aviation services, "and from the calls coming into AOPA's Pilot Information Center, it's clear that some instructors are just now discovering it."
The wrinkle? In addition to being a current flight instructor (meaning you've revalidated your flight instructor certification if it has expired), being current in the aircraft if at anytime you're going to be pilot in command or a required crewmember, and a current medical certificate (again if you're PIC or required crew), you must also have completed an approved Transportation Security Administration initial security awareness training course.
So how tough is that? Not hard at all. Spend about 45 minutes (if you have a high-speed connection) with the TSA's online course, print out the certificate of completion (or endorse your logbook if you have problems printing the certificate), and you're good to go.
And if you're just doing flight reviews or skill brush-ups, that's the only new thing you need to do.
But if you're providing instruction toward a sport pilot, recreational, private, instrument, multiengine, or type rating, you have another new task. Now you have to verify that your student is a U.S. citizen, and sign both his and your logbooks to show that you've made that check. ( AOPA's Online Guide to TSA's Alien Flight Training/Citizenship Validation Rule tells you what you need to know.)
If your student is not a U.S. citizen, then it gets just a bit more complex. Before you can provide training for an initial pilot certificate, or instrument, multiengine, or type rating, you must register with the TSA. Then you have to make sure your "alien" student also has registered with the TSA and received TSA's security "blessing" to learn to fly or to get additional skills. Again, it's not too tough. When you register with the TSA, you will receive a user name to access TSA's online system. The TSA will then send you a password via e-mail. You may then access the TSA's online system to verify that your student has completed the registration process and received the proper approvals. You will also have to send TSA a photo of your student. (See AOPA's Online Guide for details.)
Anything else? Well, for your own security and peace of mind, you might want to check into your student's aircraft insurance to make sure you're covered. Another option is CFI insurance from the AOPA Insurance Agency. And should you ever get into a dispute with the FAA, the TSA, or other legal problem, you'll find the AOPA Legal Services Plan worth its weight in gold-plated platinum.
March 3, 2005