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CFI or not?

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Well-known member
Nov 30, 2001
I am having trouble trying to decide how important it is to get my CFI. I am currently flying a Cessna 340 for a company that conducts pipeline surveys. I have about 800 total time of which about 600 is multi ( most in the 340). I'm planning on sending out resumes in the fall of this year when I will have over 1000 total. The majority of my time will be in the 340 and if I get my CFI, I will most likely never use it. My question is, how important is it to the airlines for someone to have the CFI. Is this going to make that big of an impact on their decision of weather or not to hire me? I know that it wouldn't hurt to get the CFI, but would prefer not to spend the time and money (which I don't really have) if it's not going to be that big of a deal.
Thanks in advance.
800 Total and an ATP? Nope. How much of that 800 is PIC? If you're low time with no PIC, it's going to be REALLY tough finding a job. 1,000 total isn't a whole lot of time these days, and probably won't be much better in the Fall. I know this has nothing to do with your original question, but if all that flying is done in the right seat, (which isn't legal SIC time unless you're working 135 and the OpSpecs says the airplane needs two pilots) I'd try and get that left seat ASAP. If that isn't happening, a CFI Cert. may not be bad having as an opportunity to build that PIC.

By no means trying to belittle your experiance.... but I'm wondering how competative 1000 hours is going to be anymore? My personal belief is that the job market is flooded with more qualified folks right now. Many furloughees won't give up their number if asked but if your timeframe is the fall, who's to say there won't be a bankruptcy or two by then (anyone...not just what you read in the news) Any other opinions on this?
With this pilot market, you should go ahead and get it. If you find that you need it later, it's already in your wallet. If you don't have it, you will probably miss the window on any CFI job that is offered you.

You should also reconsider instructing. I wasn't too thrilled about it either when I was out to get my first job. It later became an experience that I wouldn't trade for anything. It was very rewarding.

Hopefully the Lindbergh estate will not mind my copying a paragraph from :The Spirit of St. Louis:

"I soon discovered that I was learning as much about flying as my students. A pilot doesn't understand the real limitations of his aircraft until he's instructed in it. Try as he may, he can never duplicate intentionally the plights that a student gets him into by accident. When you're flying yourself, you know in advance whether you're going to pull the stick back, push it forward, or cut the throttle. You think of a maneuver before you attempt it. But you're never sure what a student is going to do. He's likely to haul the nose up and cut the gun at the very moment when more speed is needed. If you check his errors too quickly, he loses confidence in his ability to fly. If you let them go too long, he'll crash you. You must learn the exact limits of your plane, and always keep him far enough within them so the wrong movement of a control will still leave you with the situation well in hand. You must learn not how high the tail should go in take-off, but how high it can go without disaster; not how to avoid a wind drift when you're landing, but how much drift there can be when the wheels touch, without a ground loop or blown tire resulting. And after you've learned how to keep a student out of trouble, you find that you've become a better pilot yourself. As you instruct your student in the primary art of flying, he instructs you in its advanced phases. In a gust of wind, or if the engine fails, or in any emergency, you handle your plane more skillfully than you ever did before."

I don't think there are many former or current instructors here that would disagree with Mr. Lindbergh on this one.

Whatever you decide, best of luck.


My .02 opinion may be prejudiced because I have more than 3500 hours instructing, but I'd recommend that you get your CFI for several important reasons.

For one thing, your CFI will give you a great fallback plan if your 340 job goes south. Times remain uncertain. It's hard for anyone to get a job just flying airplanes even in good times. CFI jobs are more plentiful and it'll be easier for you to find work and keep flying.

Another reason is knowledge. Just preparing and studying for the CFI practical is a terrific learning experience. You will be surprised how little you knew about flying after you take the practical. Knowledge is power in this business, and you will benefit from the extra education down the road.

Finally, people who have CFIs seem to have an advantage over others who do not at some airlines. It is an added qualification. I am sure these airlines value these folks because instructing demonstrates an ability to communicate and relate to people. They seem to value people who have some instructing time. Too much instructing time compared to total time seems to be a turnoff to many unperceptive recruiters (even if instructing was the only way the pilot could continue to fly for a living during a recession while others were on the ground working at Bed, Bath & Beyond!! :( ).

You may be saying now that you won't use your CFI, but if you get it you may surprise yourself. Good luck with your decision.

PS-I was just finishing this post when I saw FL000's quote from Lindbergh. I wish the words were mine.
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Competitive Flight Time

I agree with FlyingSig. Go back eleven years to the last recession and war. The commuters were advertising mins of 1500 total-500 multi and an ATP, dropped from 3000 total and no less than 500 multi. There was plenty of whining and hand-wringing about the 500 multi. People could get interviews with 1500 hours, but the more realistic total was 2500 total and a mandatory ATP. I see the same thing happening when hiring resumes. Airlines will have their pick of a glut of experienced, well-qualified applicants. Of course, even in good times, there is always a glut of experienced, well-qualified applicants. That is aviation reality, folks. The 1000 total-100 multi wonders will just have to build more time before commuters will take their apps seriously.
Military Primary Instructor

As a Navy Primary instructor, I wish I had spent the time to get my CFI. I truly have learned more from watching my students make mistakes than I ever would have learned on my own. Great quote from Mr. Lindbergh.

Good luck.

If I'm reading correctly you say that you have 800TT, and you'll have 1000 in the fall. Does this mean your only flying 25-30 hours a month? If so, I would get your CFI and find a job where you can fly 100 a month. The more you fly the sooner you'll be qualified, however high mins go. Also, is that SIC or PIC twin time? Hopfully it the later.

Lastly, your profile says 1750TT and ATP?

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