NAFI Master Instructor Program Frequently Asked Questions

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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 Instructor?”

A: The NAFI Master CFI program confers an FAA-authorized accreditation to aviation educators based on a system of advanced professional standards and peer review. Master Instructors are aviation educators who reach an exceptional level of instructional activity, personal development, and professional service to the flight-training and aviation community. The Master program offers public recognition and professional standards to which all aviation educators can aspire.

Achieving the title of Master Instructor is based on the level of training activity, personal development, and volunteerism during the past 24 calendar months.

The accreditation process focuses primarily on the individual’s training and pilot evaluation activity as well as his or her experience—the foundations of what an instructor passes along to his or her students. NAFI Master Instructor is not an honorary award for long-time service; rather, it is recognition for the individual who continues to practice aviation education at the highest level. Receiving NAFI Master Instructor accreditation is approved by the FAA for CFI certificate renewal.

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: Since the program’s inception NAFI has awarded over 1,000 NAFI Master Instructor designations. Due to retirements and the FAA mandated biannual renewal requirement, the number of currently active NAFI Master Flight Instructors will vary

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 high levels of safety and education within the flying community, and many have achieved positions of national leadership in aviation.

View complete list of active NAFI MCFI/MGIs

Q: Is the accreditation good forever?

A: No. The accreditation will expire after two years if not renewed, similar to the flight instructor certificate and analogous to other professions’ continuing education requirements.

The program is specifically designed to promote active flight-instruction and pilot evaluation experience. It assures students that a NAFI Master Instructor is a current instructor who is dedicated to both quality instruction and personal proficiency.

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

A: An expired accreditation can be renewed at a future date by completing the NAFI MCFI application and providing documentation.

For those that have earned 5 or more MCFI or MGI designations, instructors will be automatically (include if it is automatic) added to the NAFI Legacy Master Instructor recognition program.

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: What is the process to renew my CFI using the NAFI Master Flight Instructor program?

A:  You will receive a certificate of accreditation which can be taken directly to your local FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) to renew your CFI certificate. NAFI offers 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: 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 about a month.

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 President 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. An applicant must meet minimum CEU requirements in four separate categories; Instructor, Educator, Professional Activity, and Service to the Aviation Community.

In the “Instructor” category of activities, the relationship of activity hours to credit granted is straightforward.

In other categories, the CEU value is verified by the NAFI Master Instructor Board of Review during the review of an applicant’s documentation package and is based on the time expended and quality of the activity.  The application information provides numerous example activities with ‘suggested’ credit levels, but also recognizes there are many unique circumstances. An applicant should claim the amount of credit he or she feels is warranted for the activity and provide justification for the credit claimed. It is important to provide detailed descriptions of the activity 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.

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 my portfolio digitally?

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