Archive for June, 2011

How much for a CFI?

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011
  • Last week I posed a question on Air Safety Institute’s Facebook page (yes, we have one) asking how much a CFI should be paid. The answers were fascinating. Here are a few:
  • They should have a salary if at a school, not paid by the hour. They could start in the 30’s.
  • Professional CFI’s should be paid what they are worth, 50K minimum.
  • $60 per hour would have prohibited me from being able to afford flight school. Maybe in another geographical location, but not where I live.
  • This is an industry dying for reform. Young pilots are taken advantage of because their need to fly pushes them to work for poverty wages. Good flight instructors deserve good pay.
  • Demand for flight training is very price elastic–even raising CFI rates a little bit could have a noticeable effect on business. While making CFI pay commensurate with experience is an interesting idea, I’m not sure it’s practical. It creates an impression that the more experienced instructors are “better” than new ones. If I were a typical student faced with the choice of paying higher rates for a more senior instructor, it might make me think that paying less for the new guy is a bad, unsafe idea. If I’m price sensitive, that would discourage me from taking up flying altogether.
  • I will add that compared to other job choices of the same responsibility level of a CFI, it’s an (even vastly) underpaid profession. The problem with CFI pay, and regional airline pilot pay for that matter, is that the market cannot and will not support much of an increase.
  • Interesting debate that mirrors the wider debate about the value that we put on all kinds of education/educators.

There were many more comments but the general consensus seems to be that the CFI,  not the school,  should be receiving somewhere between $50-60 an hour and not necessarily as an hourly employee.

I overheard one flight school owner trying to sell a young CFI on the tremendous advantage of being a contractor – that all his  expenses could be written off on his taxes. For most CFIs the deduction value is somewhat limited and the lack of benefits isn’t always a plus. As a CFI contractor years ago, however, I do have fond memories of getting the company fruitcake every Christmas from the flight school.

This is part of a much larger conversation relative to the value equation of GA training. So, are we getting the instruction we deserve? More importantly, what should change?

WAAS Up & Stalls At Altitude – Part II

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

A friend called the other day to say that he knew of someone who had received a violation for not having a current VOR check as required by FAR 91.171. Incase you’re a little foggy, that’s the reg for VOR equipment check in IFR  operations. To quote:

“(a) No person may operate a civil aircraft under IFR using the VOR system of radio navigation unless the VOR equipment of that aircraft—

(1) Is maintained, checked, and inspected under an approved procedure; or

(2) Has been operationally checked within the preceding 30 days, and was found to be within the limits of the permissible indicated bearing error set forth in paragraph (b) or (c) of this section.”

Now suppose that the aircraft in question is equipped with a WAAS-approved GPS unit? Since WAAS units are approved for sole source IFR navigation, as long as you do not use the VOR function of the WAAS receiver or another VOR radio, a check shouldn’t technically be required. That said, we highly recommend that you make the check anyway and please log it somewhere.

If you are using the VOR function of the WAAS receiver or any non-WAAS GPS unit (which is not approved for sole navigation under IFR) the check is required.

The check doesn’t count unless it is logged but the reg doesn’t specify where it has to be logged or that it has to be carried board the aircraft. But, if asked, you will need to be able to send it to the FAA inspector if requested.

Might be time to update this rule. I wonder if the guidance to FAA inspectors is keeping pace with technology?

Stalls at Altitude – Part II

Comments regarding Air France 447 continue to dominate the news and blogosphere. Thanks to all who commented on this blog. I am reminded of a few observations by Captain Bob Buck, who wrote the classic book, Weather Flying. He noted that attempting to top a thunderstorm was not smart as the aircraft would likely be close to its operational ceiling. One good bump could precipitate a stall. There will be much discussion on what the pilots saw or didn’t. It is perplexing to me why one would climb in those circumstances. The investigation will tell us more.

Finally, those of us who fly glass cockpit aircraft should be thinking about how to handle such aberrations when the infallible magic fails. Obviously, it happens.