Are We Making More, or Less CFIs per month?

A week or so ago I was talking with a friend at a flight training provider and we were discussing the challenges many flight training providers are experiencing at sourcing new employee CFIs as airline hiring has actively hired away as many CFIs as can meet ATP (or R-ATP) experience requirements. In some cases, I have been talking with flight training providers that are finding their operations losing more CFIs per month than they can hire.

It got me thinking, will we be experiencing a reduction in training throughput due to a lack of available CFI resources to train the following sequence of pilots? My gut said this might be a real possibility.

That was until I pulled some data from a source that reports the number of CFI certificates issued per month for U.S. and non-U.S. citizens. I took a little time, and put this into a quick table to see what the trend actually looked like, and here is what I came up with.

It appears in fact that we are producing MORE CFIs per month recently than we were over the past years.

This isn’t what I had postulated in my mind we might be experiencing considering the pressure that many flight training providers are feeling regarding CFI staff resources.

It also makes me ask more questions.

If we are significantly increasing the number of CFI certificates issued per month, how did we all of a sudden start doing that in our system? Are flight training providers starting to prioritize CFI candidate training and production?

Have DPEs been prioritizing CFI checkrides? If so, why? And if so, does that mean they are dedicating their available time to that instead of the other practical tests? We know that the backlog of practical tests continues to grow and DPE resources are constrained. A DPE committing to a CFI initial practical test typically means they are only doing one practical test per day, the CFI, instead of a private, commercial, or instrument test of which the DPE can typically conduct two in a day. What is the effect on the system if we do this? Does it just mean that other tests will get backed up more if we prioritize CFI tests?

I certainly hope it doesn’t mean that DPEs are doing shorter tests and getting two or three initial CFI tests done in a day, because, honestly, as a DPE I don’t see how you can give more than one full and valid CFI practical test in a day.

Does this bode well for flight training providers that we have a new “crop” of CFIs who will be entering the workforce and able to help provide training to the next generation of pilots?

A note on this data, is that it is only for CFIs who are getting initial CFI certificates between the ages of 18-29. I get it, some will poke at this and say this isn’t a full representation of all the possible CFIs out there. But we all know that there isn’t some monster group of 60 year old folks getting CFIs that are doing the bulk of training out there in the system. So take that for what you will. I am comparing apples to apples when I don’t have oranges to count, so I am not going to make up numbers of the number of oranges I don’t know we have. I am reporting what I have for data for us to look at.

I honestly don’t know the answers to these questions, but the data points to more questions that I found interesting, so I am sharing it here.

Does anyone have any thoughts? Data? Or even anecdotal input? I would love to hear it. Drop me an email or a comment here!


Below you can see a tabular format of the data that compiled this chart and see more detail on the monthly numbers.

*There is one month reported as zero, it is just a month for which accurate reporting was not available so it was left out of the sequence here.

If you would like to see these numbers in a pdf format to make it a little more readable, you can click here.




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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.

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