NAFI Master and Associate Master Flight Instructor Program Frequently Asked Questions

Master Logos


We receive several common questions from NAFI Master Instructor applicants about the process of accreditation. If you have questions not addressed in this list, please contact our office (866-806-6156), and we will answer them as quickly as possible.

Q: What is a “NAFI Master Flight Instructor?”

A: The NAFI Master Flight Instructor designation is a national accreditation for aviation educators that is based on a system of advanced professional standards and peer review. The designation is granted by NAFI and has two levels: the NAFI Associate Master Flight Instructor, and the NAFI Master Flight Instructor or Master Ground Instructor. These accreditation's publicly recognize aviation educators who demonstrate an ongoing commitment to excellence, professional growth, and service to the aviation community, and they set professional standards to which all professional aviation instructors and educators can aspire.

Both levels of the accreditation process focus primarily on the individual’s training activity and evaluation of pilots as well as his or her experience—the foundations of what an instructor is able to pass along to his or her students. They emphasize active instruction and pilot evaluation, not simply taking courses or the tenure of an individual’s instructor certificate. They are not honorary awards that recognize long-time service; rather, they are recognition for the individual who continues to practice aviation education at the highest level.


Accreditation requires a rigorous process of on-going professional activity. Like a flight instructor certificate, NAFI Master Instructor accreditation's must be renewed every 24 months to assure a dedication to continuous involvement.


Q: How many NAFI Master Flight Instructors are there?

A: NAFI has awarded slightly more than 1,000 NAFI Master Instructor designations. With the two-year renewal requirement, we frequently see instructors who are not able to renew their accreditation. At any given time, there are approximately 100 current NAFI Master Instructors.


Q: Who are the NAFI Master Instructors?

A: NAFI Master Instructors are highly active instructors who, in most cases, are involved at local and national level in such activities as providing safety seminars, participation on the FAA Safety Teams, teaching classes, working with aviation service organizations, and providing other outreach and educational activities to the aviation community. These instructors strive to achieve and promote higher levels of safety and education within the aviation community, and many have achieved positions of national leadership within the aviation community.


Q: Is the accreditation good forever?

A: No. NAFI Associate Master Instructor and NAFI Master Instructor accreditation's are not awards that may be kept for life. They must be renewed every two years, similar to the flight instructor certificate and analogous to other profession’s continuing education requirements.

The program is specifically designed to promote active flight-instruction and pilot evaluation experience, and it assures students that a NAFI Master Instructor is a current instructor who is dedicated to continuing his or her own proficiency, as well as his or her ability to provide quality instruction.


Q: What if I don’t renew my accreditation?

A: NAFI Master Instructors who do not renew their accreditation within the two-year duration of the accreditation will see their designation expire. It can still be renewed at a future date if the instructor desires.


Q: Can I use NAFI Master Instructor accreditation for my CFI renewal?

A: Yes. The NAFI Master Instructor accreditation is approved by the FAA as a method to renew a Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI) certificate. This is based on a FAA letter that indicates that the NAFI Master Flight Instructor accreditation meets or exceeds the requirements of 14 CFR Part 61.197 (a) (2) (ii) to renew a flight instructor certificate every two years.

***Applicants wishing to renew flight instructor certificates using the designation must submit complete and properly documented portfolios at least 45 days in advance of their certificate expiration date.


Q: There used to be an additional charge for CFI renewal with the NAFI Master Flight Instructor program. Has this changed?

A: In the past, NAFI has charged extra for CFI renewal. With our most recent FAA renewal of authorization and our modifications to the program, we no longer charge for this. The certificate of accreditation is automatically included and can be taken directly to your local FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) to renew your CFI certificate. NAFI does still offer processing of the certificate renewal for an additional fee, but this can be completed at your local FAA FSDO at no charge.

Individuals who are not conveniently located near a FAA FSDO can process the renewal through NAFI via mail. Please contact the NAFI office for more information on this process. FAA Authorization Letter June 26 2009


Q: I heard that the NAFI Master Flight Instructor accreditation could be used to obtain a Gold Seal flight instructor certificate. Is this true?

A: Not anymore. For a short period of time, allowed Master Flight Instructor designation to be used as a means of achieving an FAA Gold Seal certificate. However, in March 2009, the FAA indicated that it had “reconsidered its earlier position and determined that the criteria established for the Master Instructor designation are not consistent with the FAA’s requirements for the Gold Seal as established by the same 8900.1 reference” (Combined Electronic Handbook 8900.1, Volume 5, Chapter 2, Paragraph 5-571, E, 3). As a result, at this point, the FAA no longer allows the NAFI Master Instructor designation to be used to obtain an FAA Gold Seal flight instructor certificate. All previously issued Gold Seal certificates based on the accreditation process will remain effective, but no new Gold Seal certificates will be issued on the sole basis of Master Flight Instructor accreditation.

For more details on this letter please follow this link to view a pdf copy of the FAA letter.  The FAA noted in this letter that it “is not inferring that the requirements for NAFI’s MFI are not rigorous or demanding. However the MFI designation and the Gold Seal award represent different, although somewhat complementary, accomplishments.”


Q: How are Master Instructor portfolios evaluated?

A: Each portfolio is first checked for completeness by the NAFI staff to assure that the candidate meets the eligibility requirements. Then, the NAFI Master Instructor Board of Review begins a detailed evaluation of each activity, giving particular attention to the activity’s documentation, including the dates of the activity and time spent completing it. Typically, the turnaround time for complete and properly documented portfolios is two to three weeks.

If an applicant initially does not fulfill all designation requirements, or if activity documentation is not adequate, he or she will be contacted and given the opportunity—not to exceed thirty (30) days—to either provide additional information or withdraw the application from consideration. These contacts are accomplished by telephone and e-mail. If the applicant still does not meet all requirements, the application is denied.  Checking an applicant’s professional references is the final step in the review process. NAFI routinely contacts local FAA representatives, aviation employers or supervisors, and NAFI Master Instructors in the same geographic area.


Q.  What can I do if my application is denied?

Applicants wishing to appeal a denial must do so in writing to NAFI’s Executive Director within thirty (30) days.


Q. What is a CEU?

A. NAFI uses CEUs—continuing education units—to quantify an instructor’s activity level as a part of the application process. Approximately 15 hours equals 1 CEU. A list of example activities and “suggested” CEU credit is provided. In the “Instructor” category of activities, the credit granted is relatively rigid.

However, in other categories, the CEU value is determined when the NAFI Master Instructor Board of Review considers the time expended and quality of the activity during the review of an applicant’s documentation package. As mentioned, there are many example activities with “suggested” credit provided, but we also recognize there are many unique circumstances. You should claim the amount of credit you feel is warranted for the activity and provide your justification for the amount of credit claimed. For this reason, it is important to provide detailed descriptions of the activity that was completed and time spent on it so that it may be given fair credit.


Q: Why must everything be documented?

A: The FAA has approved the NAFI Master Instructor accreditation as an alternate means to renew flight instructor certificates under FAR 61.197 (a) (2) (ii).

NAFI Master Instructor application portfolios, as well as all paperwork generated by NAFI during the review and approval process, are retained by NAFI and must be able to withstand a thorough audit—a “ramp check”—by FAA and industry representatives.

NAFI advises applicants to use the nine-item checklist on the “Application Page” in order to submit complete and substantiated NAFI Master Instructor portfolios.

Applicants wishing to renew flight instructor certificates using the designation should submit complete and properly documented portfolios at least 45 days in advance of their CFI expiration date.


Q. There is a form for “Check rides Given,” but I am not an examiner, does that hinder my application?

A. There is absolutely no requirement for a NAFI Master Instructor or NAFI Associate Master Instructor to be an examiner; we have simply provided the form for use by applicants who happen to be examiners. This in no way hinders your application process.


Q. How should I document progress checks or stage checks given?

A. The best way to document these activities is to use the forms provided in the application package, or by simply listing them in a document file. Providing the student’s name, the date the event occurred, and approximate time required all help our peer reviewers assign appropriate continuing education unit values to the checks you have given.


Q: Do I really need to provide a professional reference?

A: Yes. Checking an applicant’s professional references is the final step in the review process. NAFI routinely contacts local FAA representatives, aviation employers or supervisors, members of the aviation community and occasionally NAFI Master Instructors in the same geographic area.

NAFI asks references to describe the candidate’s work as an aviation educator as well as his or her involvement and leadership in the local aviation community.


Q: May I submit some part of my portfolio on a CD or digitally?

A: Absolutely! All information can be submitted via CD/USB drive, or you can submit a shared Dropbox/Google Doc folder with us.