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Check those credentials before you fly with that guy

Q: What is the status of an endorsement given by my instructor who was not qualified to give that endorsement?

A: Quite simply, that endorsement is not valid to the FAA. There are at least two issues for you to consider: First, whatever flying you are doing with that endorsement should cease immediately until you get a new endorsement from a qualified instructor. Second, whatever flying you have done with the privileges purportedly granted by that endorsement could be alleged to have violated the regulations, even though it was not intentional.

FAR 61.56 requires a pilot to have a flight review endorsement from an “authorized instructor,” generally meaning one who was acting in accordance with the privileges and limitations of their certificate. Flight instructors do not have carte blanche to make whatever endorsements they choose; that ability is tied to their instructor privileges. For example, an instructor could be a multiengine-rated pilot, but not a multiengine instructor; this instructor could be pilot in command of a multiengine aircraft, but would have no instructional privileges in multiengine aircraft. To conduct flight training in any aircraft, the instructor must hold both a flight instructor certificate and a pilot certificate with appropriate category and class ratings applicable to that aircraft, according to FAR 61.195(b).

In this case, the concerned pilot called in because he learned he had received a flight review in a multiengine airplane from an instructor who was not a multiengine instructor. The instructor was not even a multiengine-rated pilot. The instructor had no privileges to provide a flight review, or any flight training, in a multiengine airplane. Therefore, the endorsement he provided was not valid, and every flight flown as pilot in command by the concerned pilot was a regulatory violation, since more than 24 months had elapsed since the last valid flight review was received.

While rare, if it happened to one pilot it can happen to others. You can ask your instructor to confirm their certificates and ratings, or you can check them using the FAA online Airmen Inquiry page. If you become aware of an invalid endorsement after the fact, consider filing a NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System report and discuss the matter with Pilot Protection Services or another qualified aviation attorney.

Craig Brown is a senior aviation technical specialist in the AOPA Pilot Information Center. [email protected]

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