Welcome Guest. Sign in or Signup

5 Answers

Is this normal practice for a flight school?

Asked by: 2274 views FAA Regulations, Flight Instructor, General Aviation, Student Pilot

I've noticed this situation recently: The chief pilot will walk into a room where one of the lower rung flight instructors are hanging out and say, "I need you to sign off Fred to take his commercial written". The low time flight instructor at most has only said hi to Fred one or two times in his life and doesn't know anything about his flying ability or knowledge. Is this normal practice? Do the results of written tests tarnish the CFI's record if they keep failing them?

Ace Any FAA Written Test!
Dauntless Aviation's GroundSchool series of apps are the smart pilot's choice for fast and effective FAA knowledge test prep.
Actual, up-to-date FAA questions Polished user experience
Best explanations in the business Free lifetime updates!
Private Pilot IFR Commercial Pilot CFI ATP Sport Pilot Sport Pilot Instructor Parachute Rigger Aviation Mechanic (A&P)
You can get the app now and be studying right away. Available for PC, Mac, iPhone/iPad, and Android.

5 Answers



  1. Wes Beard on Jul 25, 2013

    FAR 61.35(a)(1) governs the knowledge test requirements. The CFI has to certify the applicant is ready for the knowledge test. How can he do that without some ground time asking them questions? The pass/fail rate for all instructors are monitored by the FAA. Too many failures and the FAA may want to reexamine the instructor.

    Two things concern me. First, why isn’t the chief instructor signing off the written test? Second, why would the chief want another to sign with being certain the applicant was prepared?

    Things like this cause me to question the integrity of the school. I would find a different one.

    0 Votes Thumb up 0 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes



  2. Rick Owens on Jul 25, 2013

    “Two things concern me. First, why isn’t the chief instructor signing off the written test? Second, why would the chief want another to sign with being certain the applicant was prepared?”

    I also don’t understand this either, and feel somewhat out of place asking him directly. Do you have any possible ideas what this could be accomplishing?

    I’ve seen it happen multiple times now while I’m sitting in the room minding my own business. I know I may be in that position eventually, and wouldn’t feel comfortable signing off someone I’ve never spoken to before.

    0 Votes Thumb up 0 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes



  3. Mark Kolber on Jul 25, 2013

    Don’t feel out of place asking, Rick. If there is something wrong with the flight school procedures, as a student wouldn’t you want to know about it? OTOH, if there is nothing wrong with the procedures, don’t you want to know that as well?

    I can’t tell from your description whether there is anything wrong or not. For example, what happens after the “junior” instructor is asked to take care of the sign-off? Is he simply signing the document handed to him? Is he taking the document and making arrangements with the student for a brief quizzing? Those are just the beginning of the questions.

    One perfectly reasonable scenario for this is a group ground school. Going through the ground sessions doesn’t guarantee that one learned the material. So, the Chief might well assign the quizzing and ultimate sign-off to one of the CFIs in the group.

    You commented that the junior CFI
    ==============================
    doesn’t know anything about his flying ability
    ==============================
    That’s completely irrelevant to an endorsement for the knowledge test. Students can take and pass the knowledge test before they ever step into an airplane. There are commercial ground schools with 100 students there for a day or 2 to do nothing except take the test. The art and skills of flying aren’t discussed at all unless it happens to be on the written test.

    Your suspicions may be well-founded or they may not be. The only way you can know is to ask.

    0 Votes Thumb up 0 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes



  4. John D. Collins on Jul 25, 2013

    I agree with Mark. I know that if I were the Chief Flight Instructor, you might hear the same coming from me. Of course, the new CFI would know that they were to quiz the student pilot and assure that they had the appropriate knowledge. Often a student will study on their own and feel they are ready for the knowledge exam. This will necessitate an instructor reviewing the students level of knowledge to assure themselves that the student is truly ready. The new flight instructor often doesn’t get all the flying time that they will once they are established and appreciate the extra income. Of course, the instructor is not going to do this for free and they are going to charge a ground instruction rate for the review time. Only when they are convinced the student has demonstrated they have the required knowledge should the CFI provide the endorsement.

    On the other hand, if the Chief Instructor wanted the CFI to just sign the endorsement without the requisite review, that would clearly be inappropriate and fraudulent.

    BTW, normally a Chief Instructor has more on their plate than to spend time with a student to prepare them for the endorsement, and a new underutilized CFI is more appropriate for this duty.

    So, it depends.

    +1 Votes Thumb up 2 Votes Thumb down 1 Votes



  5. Rick Owens on Jul 26, 2013

    Thanks for the detailed responses.

    As to what John said:

    “On the other hand, if the Chief Instructor wanted the CFI to just sign the endorsement without the requisite review, that would clearly be inappropriate and fraudulent.”

    That is exactly what is going on. The school is also a testing center, so its a matter of signing his logbook and he walks into the next room to take the test. I’ve never seen practice written results displayed and never a sit down review.

    I referred to the “flying ability” just as a means of knowing who the person is. This is understandably no testament to his knowledge for the written, but a general idea of “have you been studying?”, “what airspace are we flying in?”, type of questioning to get an idea.

    What I gather from those around me is that the sign off is more of an inconvenience because of the little, or if any, negative feedback, unlike a failed practical.

    0 Votes Thumb up 0 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes


The following terms have been auto-detected the question above and any answers or discussion provided. Click on a term to see its definition from the Dauntless Aviation JargonBuster Glossary.

Answer Question

Our sincere thanks to all who contribute constructively to this forum in answering flight training questions. If you are a flight instructor or represent a flight school / FBO offering flight instruction, you are welcome to include links to your site and related contact information as it pertains to offering local flight instruction in a specific geographic area. Additionally, direct links to FAA and related official government sources of information are welcome. However we thank you for your understanding that links to other sites or text that may be construed as explicit or implicit advertising of other business, sites, or goods/services are not permitted even if such links nominally are relevant to the question asked.