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Former ExpressJet Flight Ops intern Marcel Graham (left) is serving as a CFI at AeroSim Flight Academy to earn his hours

Student pilots who pursue degrees typically graduate without having the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mandated 1500 hours of total flight time. Graduates average slightly higher than 300 hours of total time by the end of their senior year. This leads to students pursuing other avenues to build their time until they are ready to start their commercial aviation career. While there are many options to build your flight time, most pilots opt to become a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) to build time.

As a CFI you will be responsible for instructing student pilots in flight procedures and techniques, preparing instructional lessons and monitoring student performances. This option is advantageous because you are building your flight time in a structured environment, being compensated for your instruction and impacting the life of another aspiring pilot simultaneously.

Some of the advantages of becoming a CFI include:

  • Gaining familiarity with how to appropriately respond to unforeseen weather, aircraft trouble and air traffic
  • Networking with individuals who have a like-minded passion for aviation
  • Log Pilot-In-Command time while providing flight instruction

Everyone’s timeline to 1500 hours is different, depending on the variety of students you are able to teach (the more certificates you hold, the more diverse your students can be), the enrollment size of your flight school, the amount of flight instructors currently working at the school and the size of the fleet available.  Most instructors report that it takes about a year and a half to accumulate 1500 hours.

If you are a member of the Airline Pilot Pathway Program (AP3) you are required to be a Certified Flight Instructor to build your total time. We recommend serving as a CFI because of its structured learning environment and because you’re supporting the next generation of aviators, though we consider candidates who build their time through any route.

And remember, you’ll earn 40-80 hours toward your ATP/R-ATP in ExpressJet’s new hire training so we encourage you to apply when you’re within six months of earning your hours. We also provide the ATP CTP Course for free (always!) in-house as part of paid training. When you’re ready, complete your application at expressjet.com/apply or AirlineApps.

Good luck building your hours!

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