How Many CFIs Endorse Applicants for Practical Test, with the 2021 Numbers

Ever wonder how you compare to other CFIs when it comes to how many applicants you sign off for a practical test in a given year? The good news is that in a general sense we can help you figure that out.

The FAA shares some data with industry members on how many CFIs sign off an (or multiple) applicants for practical tests each year. in ranges.

With that said, here is the table of those signoff statistics for the least few years, with the freshly shared 2021 statistics included:

As you can see from the bottom numbers, less than 10,000 CFIs endorse EVEN ONE applicant for a practical test on any given year. There are currently well over 110,000 CFI active CFI certificates, although as of January 1, 2022, only 83,596 of those had an active medical certificate, which means a small percentage of the total CFI certificate holder population is actively endorsing applicants for certificates and/or ratings on any given year. While I have covered this in previous posts, this doesn’t mean none of these CFIs are doing any instruction. They could be doing flight review, IPC, currency instruction, or none of this. Many of them are actively flying as professional pilots. However, it does not go without notice to me that in 2020 nearly 20% of the CFI population was over the age of 65. I will update these numbers in a future post when the full set of 2021 data and certification numbers is available.

This data again highlights the fact that is a small subset of the CFI population that is doing the bulk of the training for certificates and/or ratings. It also highlights the fact that the largest numbers of CFIs only endorse a small number of applicants each year. This trend has not changed over the recent years. In any given year, fully two-thirds of those CFIs that do endorse an applicant do less than 5 of them.

So, with that, if you are a CFI, you can now take a look at where you might fall in these ranges.

If you happen to be one of the few CFIs endorsing higher numbers of applicants for practical tests, you are certainly in limited company!

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About Jason Blair

Jason Blair is an active single and multiengine instructor and an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner with over 6,000 hours total time, over 3,000 hours of instruction given, and more than 3000 hours in aircraft as a DPE. In his role as Examiner, over 2,000 pilot certificates have been issued. He has worked for and continues to work with multiple aviation associations with the work focusing on pilot training and testing. His experience as a pilot and instructor spans nearly 20 years and includes over 100 makes and models of aircraft flown. Jason Blair has published works in many aviation publications with a focus on training and safety.


How Many CFIs Endorse Applicants for Practical Test, with the 2021 Numbers — 3 Comments

  1. Interesting data, but as you note, the numbers don’t truly reflect CFI activity. Each year, I conduct dozens of stage checks for Part 16 and 141 students (PVT, IFR, COM, CFI,CFI-I), standardize new CFIs, provide flight reviews and IPCs, and give specialized training to Beechcraft pilots. None of those events is part of the FAA’s tally.

    • A very true statement, but those events while important, are not part of the “pilot pipeline production” that generates certificates. That is really the only thing that this data shows form that production standpoint. But it also does show how few instructors are actively engaged on a yearly basis with endorsing a candidate for a practical test.

      • Although pilots can now opt to have flight reviews and IPCs recorded via IACRA, in my experience, few are interested in doing so. I do wish FAA had better data on CFI activity. That information could help make FIRCs more relevant and provide additional options for renewing a flight instructor certificate.