Flight Instructor Rating

Increased value in the Flight Instructor Rating

July 29, 2019

The flight instructor rating is often used as the first entry point to commercial aviation. A freshly minted commercial pilot undertakes a flight instructor rating and gains their first job as a grade 3 flight instructor. 30 years ago, it was unlikely that a new grade 3 flight instructor would gain full-time employment with no flight instructing hours. The stickers and t-shirts that say jokingly “will fly for food” were not far from the truth back then. New flight instructors were so keen for flying hours they would offer their services sometimes for nothing just to get another flight hour in their log book. Every flight hour gained was one they didn’t have to pay for and one hour closer to that next job.

All those years ago if an aspiring airline pilot was not in an airline by the time they were 27 it was game over and they were sentenced to a life of general aviation. This employment climate created a real hunger for lots of hours in a relatively short period of time. Completing a flight instructor rating would help provide that stepping stone of hours and experience to the next flying job. There weren’t many career flight instructors, if you were a career flight instructor people assumed you were a failed airline pilot. The value of a flight instructor rating other than hour building was considered quite low, a consequence of the times.

Fast forward to 2019, the flight instructor rating is a valued commodity. This environment is the culmination of various circumstances. In 2014 the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) changed the rule set to Part 61 creating more hurdles for the flight instructor to reach the same status as a senior instructor prior to the part 61 rule set. The senior flight instructor rating holders pre part 61 changes have now been elevated to super instructor status with the endorsements that were carried over on their ratings.  Part 61 also required pilots who were conducting check and training duties to obtain a flight instructor rating.

The global pilot shortage has sucked up several senior flight instructor rating holders into the airlines, leaving less senior instructors in the industry and those wishing to upgrade now having to complete more flight tests than pre part 61. The pilot shortage has also led to increased pilot training in Australia, and pilots need to be trained by flight instructors. More pilots training more flight instructors needed to conduct this training. There are several large international pilot training contracts occurring in Australia which has led to more flight schools requiring more flight instructor rating holders.

Where the grade 3 flight instructor used to “fly for food” they can now gain full-time employment straight out of their flight instructor rating course. Flight instructors are needed to keep many of the international pilot training contracts, so their net worth has significantly increased over the past few years. Increased pay conditions, good opportunities for full-time employment after completing the flight instructor rating makes it a desirable choice.

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