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Can a CFI instruct without a medical?

Posted by on October 4, 2008 10 Comments Category : Flight Instructor Blog Tags : ,

This question comes from John who asks:

Can a CFI instruct without a medical? Under what circumstances?

Hi John.  Thanks for taking the time to submit your question.

A CFI can flight instruct without a medical as long as he is not the PIC (pilot-in-command) or a required crewmember.  To demonstrate this point, here are some examples of when a flight instructor could instruct without a current medical certificate:

  • As a flight instructor during a biannual flight review (BFR)
  • As a flight instructor for an instrument or commercial pilot certificate as long as no “hood” time was involved (also known as simulated instrument conditions).
  • As a flight instructor in a glider.
  • As an instructor during training given in a flight simulator.
  • As a check airman or examiner for a test given in a flight simulator
  • Ground instructing (duh)

Operations that require a flight instructor to have a current medical (at least third class):

  • Private Pilot training
  • Instrument training under simulated instrument conditions.  The reason?  The flight instructor is now a required crew member which requires a valid medical certificate
  • [Edited] Instrument training in real IMC (unless the pilot-in-training meets the requirements to act as PIC in IMC: rated, current, recent and valid medical.)
  • If giving required training for a expired BFR, a medical would be required because the flight instructor would be the PIC not the pilot seeking the BFR
  • Multi-engine training when the student pilot did not yet have a multi-engine rating (even if the student pilot had a commercial license) because the flight instructor would be the PIC (which requires a medical)

Those are all the examples I can think of for now.  If you have some more examples of when a medical is or is not required for a flight instructor be sure to add your suggestions as a comment to this post.

Thanks again for asking and as always…

Fly Safe!


  1. Axel on Oct 05, 2008

    You list “Instrument training under simulated instrument conditions” as one of the operations that require a flight instructor to have a current medical. Wouldn’t Instrument training in actual IMC also require the instructor to have a current medical if the student is not yet instrument rated or the student is instrument rated, but does not meet instrument currency requirements?

  2. instructor on Oct 05, 2008

    Axel, your right. If a flight instructor was training under real IMC, then yes, that would require the instructor to have a medical certificate. Unless, the pilot-in-training had an instrument rating and met the currency, recency and medical requirements to act as PIC. I have added that to the list. Thanks.

  3. CHAVOS THOMAS on Sep 28, 2010

    I Would like to renew my cfi, do I need to have a current medical?

  4. Bryant on May 11, 2011

    Hello, is there a specifc FAR that states these, besides 61.51e logging PIC flight time?

  5. charles bridenbaugh on Oct 02, 2011

    while giving a bfr as a flight instructor without a medical who would be pilot in command if the pilot in command got sick or had a heart attack and died.

  6. Don Sharp on Jan 30, 2013

    Any person at the contols who was still alive and functioning. Duh.

  7. Willie on Jun 19, 2013

    What class medical do I need if I began to instruct again?

  8. Mark on May 19, 2016

    I have to renew my CFI this year. I am not actively flying, do I need a current medical certificate to renew my CFI? I haven’t had a flight in the last four years, am I good to go once I get my refresher course and get my biannual review? Thank you in advance!

  9. John D Collins on May 19, 2016


    You don’t need a medical to renew your CFI. However, the CFI certificate can’t be expired before you renew it. There are several on line FIRC courses and many class room courses offered as a means of renewal.

  10. Victor Chu on Jan 13, 2017

    Hi are you Thomas Chavos at Pheonix aviation in Daytona in 1999. I am Victor Chu your student. Drop me a line.

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