September 2007 Issue

Online CFI Renewals: Jepp/AOPA is Top Pick

No matter how you dress it up, a CFI renewal is a butt-numbing experience. Jepp/AOPA’s course is the least painful. American Flyers offers the cheapest deal.

Here’s a surprising statistic: Of the just under 600,000 pilots listed on the FAA’s records 90,000—or about one in six—are flight instructors. How many actually actively teach? Probably under 50 percent, but instructor certificates are perishable items and the poor slugs who own them must renew them every 24 months. There are various ways to do this, but the most popular seems to be the flight instructor refresher clinic, or FIRC. For decades, these courses meant a three-day weekend sitting in a stuffy conference room with a bunch of other renewing CFIs in a ritual butt-numbing marathon. The dawn of the internet brought the option of grinding through 16 hours of online training sitting alone in front of a computer. All the drudgery without the camaraderie. Ain’t technology grand? But are these courses any good? Are they even tolerable? We looked at courses offered by American Flyers, Gleim Publications and a collaboration between Jeppesen and AOPA. Each approaches the online challenge differently, but they can be compared in three key areas: content, organization and price.

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