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Career as Flight Instructor

Career as a Flight Instructor

About Flight Instructor

A Flight Instructor trains a student on every aspect of flying an aircraft. Mostly, the aircraft training provided by a flight instructor includes training in aeroplanes and helicopters only. The instructions provided by a flight instructor cover a wide range of subjects related to flying. These include theoretical knowledge about flying such as information on aerodynamics, use and functioning of the equipment in a cockpit etc.

Besides providing theoretical knowledge, he also assists a student in gaining some experience on flight simulators before finally accompanying them on live flights. The role of a flight instructor is very important as they have to see to it that a student is given proper instructions on flying and its related subjects. Not only that, but a Flight Instructor also has to check whether a student is following the provided instructions carefully.

It is an interesting but challenging career choice as it is a high-risk job. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation, more commonly called DGCA, is the body that governs this field, including the approval and rating of flight instructors as well as the running of Flying Training Organisations (FTOs). Flight Instructors are required to strictly adhere to the guidelines and regulations specified by DGCA or else they can lose their license. Thus, it is a heavily-regulated job profile because of the risks associated with the field.

Flight Instructor is a senior level post as per DGCA standards and the post below it is called Assistant Flight Instructor or AFI. Pilots can be approved for an AFI and FI by DGCA if they satisfy the eligibility criteria and are able to show the required level of skill for the job.

Eligibility to become Flight Instructor

The post of Flight Instructor is very heavily regulated by the DGCA. Students who are interested in becoming a flight instructor must satisfy the requirements specified by DGCA. DGCA grants two levels of ratings to flight instructors in India —- AFIR and FIR i.e. Assistant Flight Instructor Rating and Flight Instructor Rating. Some of the points are common to both the rating while others are more specific Let’s take a look at the common criteria fist before going further into the specifics of each rating.

  • Candidate must have a valid and appropriate CPL or professional pilot’s licence,

  • Candidate must have a Class 1 Medical Certificate.

  • Candidate must have an ATPL, which can be gained after passing in an oral exam conducted by DGCA.

  • Candidate must have an FTROL, which is issued to a candidate who has completed a written examination in the specified subjects related to flying.

Now, here are the criteria specific for both posts.


  • Candidate must be at least 18 years of age.

  • Candidate must have a satisfactory level of experience in flying. The details can be found below,

    • For aeroplane: At least 100 hours of flight time as Pilot-in-Command (PIC) with a minimum of 20 hours completed in the last 18 months.

    • For a helicopter: A minimum of 50 hours of flight time as PIC with at least 20 hours withing the last eighteen months.

    • At least 20 hours of Patter Flying (i.e. Instructor Rating Course)


Only a person who has worked as an AFI can be granted an FIR by DGCA. For a FIR, a candidate must satisfy the following minimum requirements.

  • At least 20 years old.

  • Candidate must have sufficient flying experience the details of which can be found given below.

    • 20 hours of flight time as PIC with at least 20 take-offs and 20 landings.

    • Min. 200 hours of flight time on aeroplanes or 100 hours of flight time on helicopters as an AFI or a Qualified Flight Instructor in the Defence Forces.


  • Candidate must have the following levels of flying experience.

    • For aeroplane: 500 hours as PIC

    • For helicopters: 150 hours as PIC

In addition, candidates are also required to have completed a Flight Instructor course from a DGCA-approved institution within the last six years.

Another important thing to note is that the ratings of AFIR and FIR remain valid for 12 months after which, an AFI or FI will need to get it renewed from the DGCA as per regulations.

Types of Job Roles Flight Instructor

Given below are the job roles that can be taken up by flight instructors in India. The job roles have been given in increasing order of hierarchy.

  • Assistant Flight Instructor (AFI): The starting-level post for flight instructors given to an AFIR holder. AN AFI can provide training on aircraft with all-up weight not exceeding 1,500 kgs. AFIs can provide training during day-time only and only under the supervision of an FI.
  • Flight Instructor (FI): An AFI can be promoted to the post of FI after gaining certain experience. Flight Instructors can provide training on aircraft with all-up weight not exceeding 5,700 kgs.

  • Deputy Chief Flight Instructor (Dy CFI)

  • Chief Flight Instructor (CFI)

An FI who has gained enough experience and can show the required level of skill  Dy CFI and CFI. There is no separate rating for both of these posts and DGCA appoints FIR holders to these posts after an oral examination. Only the DGCA can appoint professionals as Dy CFI and CFI.

Employment Sector/Industry for Flight Instructor

Flight Instructors are basically hired and appointed by Flying Training Organizations. These are flight academies or aviation schools that have been given approval by the DGCA. While professionals can themselves apply for ASI and FI posts at FTOs, candidates for the posts of Dy CFI and CFI are appointed by the DGCA itself on getting approval from an FTO. Flight Instructors may also be hired by private organizations providing aviation services. Given below are some of the FTOs in India hiring Flight Instructors.

  • Asia Pacific Flight Training Academy
  • Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Udyan Academy

  • Rajiv Gandhi Academy for Aviation Technology

Professionals often become Flight Instructors to gather the necessary flight time required for other commercial jobs for better earning and growth opportunities.

Planning to choose Flight Instructor as your career?

Pay Scale/Salary of Flight Instructor

The salary details of Flight Instructors in India are as follows.

  • The average salary of a Flight Instructor in India is around Rs. 3.2 LPA.
  • The starting salary for this career can range from Rs. 15,000 - Rs. 25,000 p.m.

  • As the experience and post of an FI increases, the salaries can go as high as Rs. 2 - 3 lakhs per month.

Books & Study Material to Become Flight Instructor

Name of the BookAuthorPublisher
Beyond the Checkride: Flight Basics Your Instructor Never Taught YouHoward Fried, Gene Gailey McGraw-Hill Education
Visualized Flight Maneuvers Handbook for Low Wing AircraftASA Test Prep BoardAviation Supplies & Academics Inc
The Savvy Flight Instructor: Secrets of the Successful CFIGregory N BrownAviation Supplies & Academics Inc
Weather FlyingRobert BuckMcGraw-Hill Education
The Flying Life: Stories for the Aviation SoulLauran Paine JrCascade Publishing


Pros of becoming a Flight Instructor

  • It is a very exciting carer and a dream job for many people.

  • Great way to increase flight hours while also earning a salary.

  • Gateway to better and well-paying career opportunities.

Cons of becoming a Flight Instructor

  • It is a very demanding job and requires patience and stamina.
  • There is very little scope for mistakes in this career as it can result in DGCA revoking your rating.

  • The amount of investment needed to reach the stage of an AFI is quite high.

Paths for Being Flight Instructor

Confused on what to choose as your career?