Frequently Asked Questions
I need to renew my flight instructor certificate. What are my options?
Any of the five options below will renew your CFI:
- Attend an approved Flight Instructor Refresher Course (like AceCFI’s online FIRC, the best option available!)
- Take a practical test with the FAA or an authorized designated pilot examine.
- Present a record of training showing that within the preceding 24 months you have sent at least five students to their practical tests, and at least 80% of those students passed on the first attempt.
- Present a record showing that, within the preceding 24 calendar months, you have served as a company check pilot, chief flight instructor, company check airman, or flight instructor in a part 121 or part 135 operation, or in a position involving the regular evaluation of pilots.
- You may also renew through the WINGS program by:
- Holding a current flight instructor certificate.
- Holding a current phase of WINGS (at any level) at the time of application.
- Have evaluated at least 15 WINGS-accredited flight activities (any level) during which the CFI evaluates at least five different pilots, and make appropriate endorsements in the logbook of each pilot for each activity.
- Present a record to an aviation safety inspector (ASI) showing that you have met the requirements specified in Advisory Circular 61-91J within the preceding 24 calendar-months.
- Present a completed FAA Form 8710-1 to an authorized person for renewal.
How long does the course take? Are the lessons timed? Do I have to complete the course in one sitting?
The FAA requires that -all- FIRCs (in-person or online) be designed to cover 16 hours of material. However, the lessons are not timed, and you can take the end-of-lesson quiz as soon as you finish each section. Each lesson includes valuable information and knowledge to make you a better CFI, and we discourage rushing through the material. You can move through the course at your own pace, and on your own schedule. Log on as often as needed to complete the course!
When taking an end of lesson quiz is it still possible to view/reference the lesson material?
Unfortunately, the FAA mandates that you cannot log on with multiple open windows while taking a quiz or exam. However, you may print out sections of the material and/or take very good notes for reference while taking a quiz or test. Also, our course allows you to review any lesson you’ve already passed.
Do you send me an endorsement to put in my logbook?
No, there is no endorsement associated with a Flight Instructor Refresher Course (FIRC). The graduation certificate you receive after completing the FIRC serves as the basis for your renewal. You can make an appointment and present the graduation certificate to a FSDO to renew your flight instructor certificate, or you can take advantage of our paperless ACR Services and receive your temporary airman certificate automatically after completing the course.
What happens if I take the FIRC more than three calendar months in advance of my certificate’s expiration date?
In this case, your new certificate will expire two years later at the end of the month from the month that you completed the FIRC (not the original expiration date).
What if my flight instructor certificate has already expired? Can I still renew by graduating from your FIRC?
No, in this case the only way to get your certificate back is to take a practical test with an FAA examiner or authorized designated pilot examiner.
I only have a CFII (not a CFI) does your FIRC still renew my certificate? What about helicopter Flight Instructors?
Yes, our FIRC (and any other FIRC for that matter) renews ANY Flight Instructor Certificate regardless of what ratings you do, or do not, have associated with that certificate.
My flight instructor certificate has numerous ratings on it (single-engine airplane, multi-engine airplane, helicopter, instrument airplane, etc.) do I need to take a FIRC for each rating?
Our FIRC will renew your flight instructor certificate and ALL attached ratings. There is no need to take multiple FIRCs.
Can I use a flight simulator to take a practical test for my flight instructor certificate?
Yes, however only in conjunction with an approved training program at a Part 142 training center.
I just added a new rating to my flight instructor certificate(for example, an instrument rating). When do I need to renew my certificate?
If you added a new rating to your flight instructor certificate (not just your pilot certificate) it resets the renewal cycle. In other words, you’re certificate is now good until 24 months after the month you added the new rating. (Example: you passed the practical test on the 9th of May 2013, your certificate is good until the 31st of May 2015).
I don’t have a medical certificate, or it recently expired, can I still renew my CFI with your FIRC?
Yes, you can still use our FIRC to renew your CFI. A medical certificate is not required to renew your CFI.
I misplaced my flight instructor certificate. Can I still take your FIRC?
Absolutely, you can still take the FIRC. However, we will need proof that you hold a CFI certificate. This can be attained by contacting the airman certification branch of the FAA – phone number (405) 954-3261 and requesting a letter of “Temporary Authorization” to exercise the privileges of your flight instructor certificate. Essentially this is an official letter from the FAA which lists your current certificate and ratings held, as well as the certificate’s expiration date. It can be emailed to you within a day if you call the Airman Certification branch so it won’t take long to get it.
How early can I complete the FIRC and still retain my original certificate expiration date?
Three calendar months. In other words, if your certificate expires at the end of June, you could complete the FIRC as early as the 1st of March, and still maintain the same expiration date as your original certificate.
What happens if I don’t pass the quizzes or the end-of-course exam on the first attempt?
If you don’t pass one of the quizzes on the first attempt you will be required to re-take the lesson. After you’ve completed the lesson a second time you will be allowed to re-take the quiz. If you fail a second time you won’t be able to retake quiz until you have been contacted by our help desk for support (email: firstname.lastname@example.org), and they have cleared you to take the quiz a third time. If you fail on the third attempt you will be removed from training.
The same thing goes for the end-of-course exam. If you don’t pass the end-of-course exam on the first attempt you may take it a second time. If you fail on the second attempt you will need to contact our help desk for support, and they will clear you to take the test a third time. If you fail on the third attempt you will be removed from training.
If I take your FIRC do I still need to accomplish a flight review in the next two years if I don’t add any new ratings to my pilot certificate?
Yes, you will still need to accomplish a flight review in order to exercise the privileges of your pilot certificate. However, our FIRC meets the requirements for the ground portion of a flight review (as stated by 14 CFR Part 61.56(f)).
Since I can take the course every two years do you upgrade your curriculum over time?
Yes, the course is regularly updated in accordance with FAA requirements.
What’s the advantage of using your paperless ACR processing to renew my certificate?
If you elect to use our paperless ACR processing ($25.00) you will receive your temporary airmen certificate by email within a few days of completing the course. You can print it out and use it right away. Your permanent airman’s certificate will arrive by mail within the next few weeks.
On the contrary, if you choose to not use our ACR processing you will need to make an appointment with your local FSDO and present them the proper documentation for renewal. Our low cost paperless option saves time, money and headaches!
If you are undecided, you do not have to purchase ACR Services during initial course registration. When you complete the course there will be an option to add the services on at that point (for the same price of $25.00).
Can you provide more detail on exactly how your paperless ACR Services work?
When you complete the course, you will be directed to the “ACR Services” page. From there you will be directed to (and shown how to) complete the following:
- Register in the FAA’s Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) system (if you haven’t already registered in the past).
- Submit an electronic application for a renewed flight instructor certificate through IACRA.
- After you complete your application, you will need to give us your FAA Tracking Number (FTN) which is provided by IACRA. You will also provide us with some identification information pulled from either your U.S. issued government ID or information pulled from a passport (for non-US students who don’t have a US issued ID). All of this is handled on our ACR Services page.
- Once you submit your FTN and ID information our ACR Team will be notified. The ACR Team will then log into IACRA and review your application. If everything looks good they will send you an email directing you to electronically sign your application.
From that point you will simply log back into IACRA and electronically sign your application (which consists of checking a few boxes and hitting “Submit”). Once you’ve signed your application you will just reply to the ACR Team’s email and let them know that the application is signed.
After the ACR Team receives your email, they will generate your Temporary Airman Certificate in the form of a PDF File and email it to you. The process is complete.
Also, since everything is handled through IACRA, the FAA’s Airman Certification Branch will automatically begin processing your permanent airman certificate, and place it in the mail in the next few weeks.
All in all, it’s a very simple and straightforward process.
I don’t plan on flying in the near future. Do I still need to buy your ACR Service since I won’t need a Temporary Airman Certificate?
Our ACR Services are optional, but strongly recommended! If you choose to not purchase them then YOU will need to work with your local FSDO to get your new Airman Certificate (whether or not you need it quickly).
If you use our ACR Services, the FAA’s Airman Certification Branch is made aware of your new certificate immediately upon our issuance of your Temporary Airman Certificate.
If you don’t use our ACR Services, the only way the FAA will know that you completed our FIRC is if you work with your local FSDO on your own to receive your new Airman Certificate (i.e. you will need to present the FSDO with a hard copy Form 8710, two forms of ID, and present your old Flight Instructor Certificate).
I’m a non-US citizen and/or I am not currently located in the US. Can I still use your ACR Service?
Absolutely! We can process your foreign application. Please note that you must provide a U.S. issued form of Government ID, OR an international passport (in the case of foreign students who don’t have a U.S. issued ID).
However, if you have changed your nationality/citizenship since your last certificate was issued, our ACR services cannot be used to change the nationality on your certificate. This change can only be accomplished by appearing in person at your local FSDO.
When I submit an 8710, or submit an application in IACRA, do I need to fill out Section III (the record of pilot time)?
No, you do not need to fill out the flight time information when completing your flight instructor renewal. However, it’s always a good idea to update the FAA with your flight time in order to serve as a backup record if your logbook becomes lost or damaged.
When I submitted my electronic application in IACRA I messed up! Now it won’t let me edit it. What do I do?
Unfortunately, IACRA won’t let you edit the application after it has been submitted. NO NEED TO PANIC! However, you will need to submit a new application. Once you’ve done that, just email email@example.com and let us know that your application had mistakes and a second application has been submitted.
I have completed the online portion of the renewal process and am attempting to fill out the 8710 via IACRA. I currently hold a Gold Seal CFI. I have clicked the appropriate boxes regarding Gold Seal but when I look at the summary 8710 I see no mention. How do I know that they know to send me a Gold Seal CFI?
This is generally not a problem. If you filled in the correct information about your Gold Seal when completing your application it will still be on your new Temporary Airman Certificate. For whatever reason, it does not show up on the electronic 8710 generated by IACRA. If you have any doubts about whether or not you filled out the correct Gold Seal information when completing the application you can contact the IACRA help desk at (877)287-6731. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
My CFI doesn’t expire for a while. Can I register for the course well in advance? How much of the course can I complete and still keep the same expiration date on my new certificate?
You can register for the course as early as you’d like. However, once you finish the end of course exam your graduation certificate is automatically generated. That graduation certificate has a date on it. The date on the graduation certificate is the date the FAA will use to determine when you renewed your CFI. As such, as long as the date on the graduation certificate is within three calendar months of your original certificate’s expiration date your new certificate will still have the same expiration date two years later. In other words, you can begin the course whenever you’d like. However, if you want to keep the same expiration date then you cannot finish the course (i.e., complete the final exam) until within three calendar months of your certificates expiration date. If you complete it earlier your new certificate will expire at the end of the month two years later than the date on the graduation certificate.
What format are the lessons in? Do I need to download anything?
The lessons are presented in text, illustrations, and charts. There are no video presentations. No downloads are required, and you can progress at your own pace (as opposed to having to wait for videos to finish).
My CFI expires at the end of the month. How soon do I need to begin taking the course in order to finish the course AND receive my Temporary Airman Certificate (through your ACR service) before my certificate expires?
The course itself is designed to take 16 hours. You must be finished with the course before you can BEGIN the ACR process. We urge you to BEGIN the ACR process at least THREE FULL BUSINESS DAYS in advance of expiration. We can very often return your Temporary Airman Certificate to you within one business day, but we like to be conservative in our time estimate just in case there are any complications with your application. We recommend you begin the course at least one week in advance prior to your certificate expiring.
Does your course meet the requirements for “Flight School Security Awareness Training”?
Yes. Our course meets the requirements of 49 CFR Part 1552 “Flight School Security Awareness Training”. You will receive a certificate for Recurrent Security Awareness Training when you finish the course.