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Do CFIs have to train in complex aircraft?

Posted by on January 9, 2009 5 Comments Category : Flight Instructor Blog

Joshua is wondering if he’s gotten the right information about CFI requirements:

I recently obtained my multi-engine commercial license in a DA-42 Twin Star. Since I did my commercial in a complex aircraft, do I have to train in a complex single for my initial CFI? I am being told that I do, but it does not make sense since I already have a complex endorsement.

Joshua, you don’t technically have to train in a single-engine aircraft, but the Flight Instructor Practical Test Standards (pdf) require that you take at least part of the checkride in a complex aircraft: “A complex airplane must be furnished for the performance of takeoff and landing maneuvers, and appropriate emergency procedures.”

The only specific flight time requirement for any flight instructor certificate—and this comes right out of FAR 61.183(j)—is that you log 15 PIC hours in the category and class your CFI will be valid for. So, you don’t have to receive instruction in a complex airplane, but you do need to take your checkride in one.


  1. RFSpencer on Jul 10, 2009

    I can’t find the statement: “A complex airplane must be furnished for the performance of takeoff and landing maneuvers, and appropriate emergency procedures.” in the most up to date (November 2006) version of the CFI airplane practical test standards. It describes what a complex airplane is–but does not state one is reguired as previous versions of the PTS have. Is there: (1) just a clerical error on the part of the FAA or (2) a change in the requirements or (3) did I miss something in my reading of the document?

  2. RFSpencer on Jul 10, 2009

    P.S. regarding the post I just left, here is a link to the document I was reading:


  3. Rafael Sierra, CFI, CFII on Sep 20, 2009

    Eric, with reference to Flight Instructor PTS requirements the “complex” aircraft callout is missing in the CFR 14 Part 61.45(C)or (e). It must be an errata.

    Rafael Sierra

  4. Matt Bowers on Jul 09, 2010

    On the above link, 8081-6C; on page 10, it does say that you must provide a Complex Airplane for the test. You can take two planes, and when all other maneuvers are complete, you can switch to the retract plane to finish up.

  5. Daniel Fullerton on Jun 10, 2011

    This is very good discussion. I am working on taking my CFI initial. My one instructor suggested that this was the case but was unsure. I am glad to know where to find the exact information. I asked the question on line and this discussion came up. Thanks.

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