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Does a CFI have to be current to carry passengers to teach student pilots how to fly?

Asked by: 7988 views ,
FAA Regulations, Flight Instructor

The regulations require the PIC to be landing current to carry passengers in flight.  Does a CFI have to be landing current to carry a student pilot who is in the process of obtaining his Private Pilot certificate?

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9 Answers

  1. Best Answer

    Eric Gideon on Nov 21, 2010

    No. A student pilot is considered required crew and is not a passenger according to several FAA interpretations:

    Kortokrax (.doc)
    Olshock (.pdf)

    The Kortokrax interpretation, while specifically targeting night currency, should apply to day currency as well:

    We agree that, for purposes of section 61.57(b), an authorized instructor providing instruction in an aircraft is not considered a passenger with respect to the person receiving instruction, even where the person receiving the instruction is acting as PIC. (The instructor must be current, qualified to instruct, and hold a category, class and type rating in the aircraft, if a class and type rating is required.) The instructor is not a passenger because he is present specifically to train the person receiving instruction. Neither is the person receiving instruction a passenger with respect to the instructor. This training may take place, even though neither pilot has met the 61.57(b) requirements.

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  2. Gary Moore on Nov 21, 2010

    I agree with Eric – although – if something were to go wrong with that flight – I’d bet that a lack of currency (any currency) would not bode well for that instructor.

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  3. Eric Gideon on Nov 21, 2010

    That’s very true. Judgment is a major factor in most (if not all) FAA decisions.

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  4. Micah on Dec 07, 2010

    I don’t think I agree that the answer is “No.”  Let’s break this down into two scenarios, since the words aren’t clearly defined.
    1.  CFI currency with a Student Pilot
    2.  CFI currency with a certificated Pilot of any level
    In the first case, the student pilot may not “act as PIC” (except when flying under the privileges of the solo endorsement(s), which includes the practical test) and I do not understand that this question applies.  Because the student pilot may not act at PIC (pt 1) the CFI must act as PIC as must be current.
    In the second case, the pilot may “act as PIC” but is not required to be current because the CFI is not a “passenger.”  It should be noted, however, that the CFI is required by the interpretation to be current.  
    So the scenarios for a not-night-current pilot are:
    1. Not current, fly solo to fulfill currency: Yes
    2. Not current, fly with current CFI to fulfill currency: Yes
    3. Not current, fly with passengers while fulfilling currency: No
    A 4th scenario may be: not current, fly with CFI (current) and passengers while fulfilling currency.  My interpretation here is that this is not allowed if the pilot is acting PIC but is allowed if the CFI is acting PIC.

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  5. Micah on Dec 07, 2010

    Well, let me restate some of this: the interpretation appears to around a pilot or student pilot who is “receiving instruction” is a “required crewmember” and thus not a “passenger” and would not require the currency of 61.57b.  The interpretation still requires that the CFI be “current” in one sentence and then in a following sentence indicates that “neither pilot has met the… requirements.”  This seems to me to be either contradictory or at least difficult interpretation.  If I have not flown for 15 months, but if a student “requires” me to instruct them for them to regain currency then am I not subject to the currency requirements myself?  I am not sure I can be comfortable with this interpretation; it seems to violate the intention of the regulation.  

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  6. Wesley Beard on Dec 07, 2010

    I agree with not being landing current and having a FAA judgment after an incident and would probably never fly with a student while I was not current.  To me, the question centers around the legality of such an action.  
    The authorized instructor is considered two individuals to the FAA.  They are the instructor (with one set of currency requirements) and they are a pilot (with a different set of currency requirements).  The Kortokrax interpretation specifically states the “instructor” must be current.  Currency for an instructor is listed in 61.195.

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  7. Kris Kortokrax on Oct 19, 2011

    Currency for an instructor is not listed in 61.195.  That deals with Limitations and Qualifications.  My understanding of the wording in the interpretation is that, I could fly at night in the circumstances described in the interpretation, but that I must be current for day operations (this is what they meant when they stated “The instructor must be current.”)
    When I sent the request for interpretation (in February, 2003), I asked for a comprehensive interpretation for all of 61.57.  I presented two scenarios (the ones addressed in the interpretation) to illustrate.  The FAA confined their answer to the two scenarios presented (let that be a lesson when submitting a request).  One of the questions I raised concerned the use of the word “passenger” in 61.57 as opposed to the use of the word “person” as in 61.31 (c).  If the words are interchangeable, then why not be consistent and use “person”?
    From a safety standpoint, if pilot A gets in the airplane and performs 3 takeoffs & landings solo at night, then lands and pilot B gets in with pilot A and performs his 3 takeoffs and landings as sole manipulator, how is that any safer than the 2 of them (neither one night current) getting in the airplane and accomplishing the 3 takeoffs and landings?  There is no minimum performance level for the takeoffs & landings.  Each one could accomplish the requirements by executing 3 takeoffs & landings of questionable quality and still be legal.  If I have been flying at night in a single engine airplane and am current for ASEL and am day current in a multi-engine airplane, there is little risk involved in my flying a multiengine airplane at night to acquire night currency while accompanied by the pilot/owner of the airplane who desires to regain his night currency.

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  8. Bill Trussell on Dec 08, 2011

    The FAA has offered many interpretations on this issue, including the fact that, in spite of the payment for instruction servcies received, the dual flight is not carrying passengers for compensation or hire.  If this flight is conducted soley for the purpose of giving flight instruction, the student is exactly that, a student.  The flight instructor acting as PIC for the purpose of having a PIC for dual primary instruction does not equate to carrying passengers.

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  9. Chris on Jul 27, 2015

    No. A student pilot is apart of the flight crew just like a Co-pilot or First Officer.

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