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Old 03-10-2011, 01:30 PM   #1
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Default Interesting: Drop out rate v. active CFIs

This is somewhat of an anomaly to me.. these past few years are one of the hardest hit for flight schools. Interestingly, the student pilot drop out rate is currently about 80% while the number of certified flight instructors set a record with 96,473 active flight instructor certificates!

I'm just trying to figure out just how it is possible that there can be so many CFIs around while the student pilot drop out rate is so high?

Pilot drop out rate

Active CFI certificates


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Old 03-10-2011, 03:14 PM   #2
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Remember that getting your CFI doesn't correlate with actively instructing. Many collegiate flying programs force you to get your CFI/CFII, so many people get them with no desire to instruct.

Then you have airline/corporate/charter guys who keep their instructing certificate current just because they want the option of it (nice to give BFRs, etc.).

There may be 96K "active" flight instructor certificates, but I'd be surprised if there were more than 30K truly active instructors at this point.
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Old 03-11-2011, 10:01 AM   #3
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I agree with Abort. I'd like to see the comparison between the number of student pilots who started this year and those 96,000 CFIs. Those instructors may have had plenty of students to start with.
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Old 03-11-2011, 10:19 AM   #4
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Simple logic- if students are quitting then they are not receiving instruction, and while the issuance of certificates is going up the number of hours of actual instruction is obviously going down. People are getting their CFI probably because there is a shortage of non-instructing flying jobs and they want to apply to the instructing jobs. Apart from whether they can actually find one (probably not), this is driving the demand for more certificates.
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Old 03-11-2011, 10:31 AM   #5
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I would guess the military pilots are adding to the numbers since the FAA authorized the Mil Comp program.
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Old 03-11-2011, 11:58 AM   #6
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What's the historical drop out rate for private pilots? Has it increased?

I did find some FAA data : http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/apl/aviation_forecasts/aerospace_forecasts/2011-2031/media/General%20Aviation%20(Tables%2027-30).xls
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Old 03-11-2011, 12:54 PM   #7
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AOPA is suggesting there are .75 or so students per instructor? Interesting to note the forecast increase in LSA and experimental on the spreadsheet.
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Old 03-12-2011, 03:43 AM   #8
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I have a feeling it has something to do with the fact that fewer people are getting pilot certificates for fun. I think getting a private pilot's cert and instrument rating has become financially unattainable for a lot of people looking to fly as a hobby. This lowers the student pilot population significantly, then there is probably a much higher percentage of people in pilot training looking for a career in aviation rather than flying for the fun of it. The 'career students' are likely going to be picking up their CFI. I know at least a handful of people that 2-3 years ago would have said there was no way they'd get their CFI or instruct, but ended up getting their CFI to find work in this recession.

Also, as others have already said, there are a bunch of people out there that don't actively instruct but are still renewing their CFI cert. Since the number of student pilots keeps dropping, these numbers were bound to cross somewhere.
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Old 03-12-2011, 06:16 AM   #9
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I still have a current CFI, and I fly for a major airline. I have not instructed in the last 8 years and I have no intention of ever instructing again. I keep it current though because I paid the money to do the American Flyers renewal program for life. It's very easy to keep it current.
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Old 03-12-2011, 08:33 AM   #10
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In the past it was possible for the middle class to afford to fly for fun. Today whenever someone considers flying as a hobby they quickly come to the conclusion that they can only afford to do it as a professional.

Pilot mills across the country are more than willing to feed the myth and provide expensive training to legions of pilots who then quickly realize that they can not afford to work as a pilot either and quit flying altogether.

The results are that the active hobby pilot is disappearing. Flight instructors need a robust hobby group to provide training as safety pilots, provide BFR's and the like. Now that hobby pilots are fading away so goes the CFI market. Most new CFI's never see their first job.

In addition in the past once a pilot made it to a regional or major they eagerly let their CFI lapse into history. Why would you need that thing again once you have made it to the big time? Today no one feels all that secure in the profession anymore. Pilots tend to hold on the the CFI.

The results are a growing pile of CFI's without students. The hobby market is in free fall. Additional evidence lies in the plummeting price of older used planes. Once the bombers begin to drop out I expect that a Cessna 150 will be worth its weight in scrap aluminium.

I would advise against getting the CFI and spend the money buying the time elsewhere.

Skyhigh
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