Sport Pilot Instructor

What is a flight instructor certificate with a sport pilot rating (CFI-S)?

What we like to call, “CFI-S,” or certified flight instructor-sport is any certified sport pilot or private pilot who has been trained and obtained a flight instructor certificate that the FAA calls, “flight instructor certificate with a sport pilot rating.” A CFI-S is someone who teaches aspiring sport pilots to fly Light Sport Aircraft. One can even become a CFI-S without becoming a commercial pilot, meaning you can obtain the certificate in about half the time required to become a traditional CFI or what we call, “CFI-A,” at SMF. The “A” stands for “airplane” instead of, “sport.” The FAA has a more wordy designation and refers to a CFI-A as, “flight instructors other than flight instructors with a sport pilot rating.”

Sport pilot and CFI-S certificates are both issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

An FAA Certified Flight Instructor with a Sport Pilot rating (CFI-S) has privileges similar to other FAA-certificated flight instructors (CFI-A). The only difference is the CFI-S only operates under Subpart K of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR), which means they can only instruct in a light sport aircraft (LSA).

A CFI-S also holds an endorsement that allows him/her to not only teach new student pilots but also existing, certified sport pilots in a specific category and class of aircraft. In particular, at SMF, a CFI-S can perform training and/or proficiency checks for existing Sport Pilots who wish to add the airplane (category) or single-engine land (class) on their Sport Pilot Certificate. Our CFI-S’ can also offer transitional training for existing pilots of any certification level who have never flown the type of LSA we operate, the SportCruiser. This is usually referred to as a “checkout.”

All of our CFI-S’ are already certified for class B, C, and D airspace and have speed endorsements (Vh 87+ KCAS) meaning they can provide these types of endorsements to Sport Pilots who do not already have the endorsements and are looking to get them added to their own certificate.

Prerequisites To Be A Sport Pilot Certified Flight Instructor (CFI-S)

To qualify for the Certified Flight Instructor-Sport (CFI-S) rating and pilot a light sport aircraft, you must hold a sport pilot certificate. or a private pilot certificate. You’re also required to have accumulated 150 hours of flight time, including at least 100 hours as PIC in a single-engine land airplane, and pass two FAA knowledge tests: the Fundamentals of Instructing (FOI) and Sport Pilot Flight Instructor (SIA). Alternatively, if you already hold a teaching certificate for at least the seventh-grade level, you may opt-out of taking the FOI knowledge test. The complete requirements are detailed in 14 CFR 61, Subpart K.

    • Be at least 18 years old by your “FAA Checkride.”
    • Be able to read, speak, write and understand English
    • Hold at least a Sport Pilot Certificate
    • Must have logged at least 150 hours as a pilot, which must include the following:
      • 100 hours as Pilot in Command of a powered aircraft
      • 50 hours in a single-engine airplane
      • 25 hours of cross-country flight time
      • 10 hours of cross-country flight time in a single-engine airplane
      • 15 hours of flight time as Pilot in Command of a Light Sport Aircraft
    • Exams Required for Certification
      • Knowledge Tests
        • 2 Multiple-choice exams administered by FAA-authorized facility (taken one at a time)
      • FAA Checkride
        • Oral Exam
        • Flight/Practical Exam

Flight Experience Requirements

As specified in the above paragraph, a person who wishes to become a Certified Flight Instructor-Sport (CFI-S) requires the following flight experience:

  • 100 hours of flight time as a pilot in command in powered aircraft;
  • 50 hours flight time in category;
  • 25 hours cross-country flight time;
  • 10 hours of cross-country flight time; and
  • 15 hours of flight time as pilot in command in a light-sport aircraft.

New Sport Pilot Certified Flight Instructor (CFI-S) Candidate Requirements

The FAA Sport Pilot Certified Flight Instructor (CFI-S) candidate requirements. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Sport Pilot Certificate or Private Pilot Certificate Holder
  • Training and endorsement from a CFI-S or CFI-A to take the FAA knowledge CFI-S (SIA) test and the fundamentals of instruction (FOI) knowledge test
    • Pass both CFI-S (SIA) and FOI knowledge tests (70% min score)
      • Receive an endorsement certifying all deficient areas exposed from the knowledge tests are corrected
  • Meet ALL Sport Pilot CFI requirements
  • Receive a logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor indicating that you are competent and possess instructional proficiency in stall awareness, spin entry, spins, and spin recovery procedures after you have received flight training in those training areas in an appropriate airplane
  • Obtain an endorsement for the practical test within 2 calendar months preceding the month of application in preparation for the practical test from the CFI who provided the training and who signed off on the FAA 8710-11 form now typically done online IACRA.
  • Pass CFI sport practical test with DPE/SPIE.
  • Receive Sport Pilot CFI Certificate and logbook endorsement for the category/class of aircraft used for during the practical test.

Why Become a Certified Sport Pilot Instructor?

 “It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill.” — Wilbur Wright, inventor of modern flight.

A CFI-S is allowed to instruct in light sport aircraft. Being certified in this area of aviation goes beyond just being able to fly a plane. A certified sport pilot instructor must keep up with the latest technology, flight rules, and laws. Many pilots who become certified sport pilot instructors find that the sport pilot certification leads to other opportunities within the aviation industry.

The certificate required to become a certified sport pilot instructor was created to bridge the gap between sport and commercial pilot certifications. The ability to fly light sport aircraft gives a certified sport pilot instructor freedom to travel and fly in a way many other certified flight instructors cannot. The certification is not only for professional pilots, although many certified instructors are professionals. Any pilot can do the training to become a certified sport pilot instructor.

The Process at Santa Monica Flyers

One of the most important aspects of any instructional product is its ability to prepare you for what you could encounter on the job. Training courses must be given out in a way that covers everything one may be asked to teach while also putting them in a position to teach it effectively on their own with little guidance.

We’ve found that it’s usually best for all sport pilot flight instructor applicants to start with our sport pilot certification course before diving into any other specifics of educating students. This is because it provides you with a solid foundation for eventually teaching others about flying as a sport pilot.

Using the Fundamentals of Instruction techniques, we advise you to concentrate mainly on dual instruction – flight training and ground school.

It may not be easy at first, but do not take shortcuts in your explanations – take the time to honestly explain how something would affect the student during a lesson. Ultimately, as an instructor, we are giving our students confidence in their abilities so that they can go out into the world knowing that they did everything they could to bring themselves up to speed so they can fly safely!

Sport Pilot and CFI Training Syllabus

As a student pilot, you go through the training syllabus page by page and learn each lesson to become fully licensed. We teach our instructors how to teach logically in the order you did when training for your license, so there are no surprises there. After combing through the syllabus, we move on to teaching techniques for dealing with student “mistakes,” which is where you will get extra practice! As a Part 61 school, we are open to a customizable, individually-tailored lesson/syllabus structure. 

Flight Training

The first topics you will be tutoring will include how to conduct a pre-flight inspection, starting the plane’s engine, and eventually leading it through all the way from takeoff to landing from the right-hand seat.

Ground Training

Ground school includes all aeronautical-related knowledge and unique endorsements. We also work on teaching you how to replicate CFI procedures so you see first-hand how it’s done.

How much and how long will it take before I become a Sport Pilot CFI?

“There is no such thing as a natural-born pilot. Whatever my aptitudes or talents, becoming a proficient pilot was hard work, really a lifetime’s learning experience.” — Chuck Yeager, the first pilot to break the sound barrier.

First, if you’re starting as a pilot, you must understand the flight training and certification process. CFI training is not the same as an initial pilot certification.

Like a doctor or lawyer, flight instructors must be highly qualified, subject matter experts. Becoming a CFI-S requires you to take your abilities as a pilot and bring them many levels higher so that you can teach them to others. They say the best way to learn something for real is to teach it! But just having great skills at flying is not going to cut it. A CFI-S has to have deep understanding on the fundamentals of instructing on top of holding up the many responsibilities being an instructor comes with — safety always being number one. 

How long the training takes depends on how much knowledge or subject matter expertise you have, your preparation for lessons, and the frequency you apply yourself into the material. The speed you learn at will also affect the time. Most pilots will tend to take at least a year or two to go from no experience to being a CFI-S.

It is the same when we talk about the costs. If your ground and flight training knowledge is sufficient, you won’t need to spend as much to become a sport pilot CFI. However, if you need to train again and again due to poor preparation and progress, expect the expenses to be as high as getting a sport pilot certificate all over again.

What are the privileges of my flight instructor certificate with a sport pilot rating?

Once you become a certified sport pilot instructor, you are authorized to provide training and endorsements within your certificate and rating limits. It is essential to note you are only allowed to provide flight training in a light sport aircraft.

You can teach student pilots and endorse them to obtain a sport pilot certificate. You can give practical and knowledge tests recommendations/endorsements for a sport pilot certificate or a flight instructor certificate with a sport pilot rating. You can perform and endorse a sport pilot for a flight review. You may also do a proficiency check for an additional category or class privilege for a sport pilot certificate or a flight instructor certificate with a sport pilot rating.

You are also authorized to accept applications for a student pilot certificate and verify the applicant’s identity and eligibility requirements which is needed for a student pilot to receive his/her student pilot certificate from the FAA.

Do I need to pass an FAA medical exam to be a Certified Sport Pilot Instructor?

No as long as you have a valid U.S. drivers license and comply with any limitations issued thereon such as the use of corrective lenses. At any time, it is your option to obtain a valid FAA medical certificate if you do not have a U.S. drivers license.

Be a Sport Pilot Certified Flight Instructor!

If you love being up in the air, there’s no better way to show your love than to become a CFI-S.

Getting certified is easy when you do it with Santa Monica Flyers. We offer courses that get pilots ready for the world of flying. Our experienced instructors have the knowledge and skills needed for aspiring pilots and flight enthusiasts. Contact us today at 310-800-8050 and let’s get started!


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