Do Certified Flight Instructors Need to be “Night Current” When Conducting Training in Robinson Helicopters?

You’ve been stuck teaching primary maneuvers to new students in a Robinson helicopter for the past three months. Next week, you finally have an initial night cross country flight with a student pilot, but you also realize that you won’t have met the night passenger carrying requirements of 14 CFR 61.57(b). Do you need to get current before you fly with the student? Is the student a “passenger”?

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Review of The Four Basic Levels of Learning

Certified Flight Instructors (CFI) are taught that there are four basic levels of learning: Rote, Understanding, Application, and Correlation.⁠1 There are other variants of these levels, but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) uses this set in their publications and exams, so we will also. Let’s review each level.

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Pilots: There Is Only One Definition Of Night

It is commonly taught that there are three definitions of “night” that pilots need to be concerned with. They involve logging flight time, carrying passengers, and periods for required illumination of aircraft lighting. There aren’t three definitions: there is only one. Let’s take a three-minute trip through the wonderful world of Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs).

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Life as a Flight Instructor at a Large Part 141 Helicopter Flight School

My first pilot job, like many fresh pilots in the United States, was as a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI). Back when I was first hooked on flying helicopters, I did thorough research to find the steps I wanted to take to achieve my goal of making a career as a helicopter pilot. The end goal was to be either a utility pilot or emergency medical service pilot. Figuring out how to get there was the challenge.

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Temporary—Yet Basically Permanent—Notices To Airmen

The Notices To Airmen (NOTAM) Publication—updated every 28 days—contains NOTAMs that are not given during pilot briefings unless specifically requested by the pilot.1 As such, it is our responsibility to review these already published NOTAMs for applicable information for every flight, in addition to new NOTAMs. Some of these are easily forgotten or poorly reviewed in helicopter flight training, yet we are held responsible to comply with these notices: they are regulatory.

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Flight Instructor Gold Seal

A Gold Seal on a Certified Flight Instructor’s (CFI) certificate indicates that they have a high level of personal qualifications and good records as an active CFI. There are also plenty of great instructors without a Gold Seal, either because they never applied for one or simply don’t have enough students taking check rides within the specified time period. No special privileges come with this added seal, but it does renew your CFI certificate for an additional two years when obtained.

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