The CFI initial is supposed to be one of the hardest tests a pilot will take in their career. I am currently in the process of taking my own initial CFI exam and I wanted to share some opinions and observations.
The CFI Checkride is difficult, there is no getting past that point. You will hear horror stories throughout your training of how hard it was or the pass/fail rate or the length of the exam. Let me start by saying my oral exam was 7 hours and covered everything from the basics of aerodynamics to scenarios with a “student”. The flight was postponed, however my examiner covered everything we would fly in the ground and gave me a list of what to expect when I came back so I could outline it all. The reason the CFI is perceived as difficult is because it covers everything you have learned since the day you started flying, plus the added bonus of the FOI or fundamentals of instruction. What most people don’t realize or aren’t told though is that you can reference lesson plans and FAA material for specifics throughout the exam. (The FOI is mainly from memory however). So take what you use as a pilot on a regular basis, add a few regs, sign offs, and the FOI and you have the oral. Not so difficult and nothing much to worry about. The problem now comes in the form of fatigue.
The number one reason I see people fail the Cfi ride is fatigue. The oral will take around 6 hours. There is a lot of material to cover and you can expect if you only cover the minimum to be there explaining things all day. Now, after racking your brain to teach and answer questions for 6 hours would you feel at the top of your game for a flight. Not only a flight, but a flight to pts standards while teaching. After a day of questioning and maybe even travel to you check ride (when I flew down it was solid imc for an hour) would you feel 100% for your flight? This is the time when most applicants go wrong. They want to rush to finish when they could come back the next day feeling prepared and suffer no consequences.
I can’t talk all night about this subject but I want to leave with this note. I finished training for my Cfi in November and had my paperwork put through to the FAA December 1st. I didn’t hear back till mid December and when I did the examiner I was stuck with was out till the 27th. I opted for a DPE and paid $600. We scheduled for the 29th and had to cancel for weather. We rescheduled for the 12th and I flew an hour in imc only to finish the oral portion. The flight was bumped to the 30th and currently the weather for the. Looks low and overcast. I finished first in my class of eight Cfi’s to get signed off and due to the way scheduling works won’t finish it for 2 months after the fact. My point here is, yes the Cfi is difficult but don’t let it beat you. It is a simple test and everyone has there weak spots with it. Aviation is an industry that has been on a down turn for a while. It’s an expensive gamble and for some it won’t pay off, but if it is your passion stick with it because the reward at the end of this long road is sweet, and very few people In the world get to experience it.