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Tales of an ASI: The World According to the ASI Flight Review Options

By A.V. Peyus, Jr.
Written with permission from FAA Aviation News

Okay, we all know that we need a flight review every 24-calendar months. But, did you know there are six ways to accomplish this required task? For some reason, I seem to find the only flight instructions around the country who are not aware of the various methods of meeting the requirements for 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) '61.56, Flight review.

Everyone is familiar with the need to accomplish the flight review by the end of the 24th month from the last review to act as pilot in command of an aircraft. That is the 'no brainer.' What about the other five ways to meet this regulation? Ah, in there lies the rub! It seems there are flight instructors out in the 'real world' who have misplaced their copies of this regulation in its entirety.

On more then one occasion this year; I have been told that I needed a flight review even though I had received a new type rating in February of this year. The last time I was told this, the instructor and I had a long 'heart to heart' talk about the regulation, the intent of the wording, and the variety of means by which a pilot may meet this regulation. We went over the regulation step-by-step. Here is what we covered.

The requirements of 14 CFR '61.56 can be successfully met when a pilot has accomplished one of the following:

1.The pilot has passed a ground and flight proficiency flight review check conducted by a Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI); a Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE); or a FAA Aviation Safety Inspector (ASI), Operations, from your local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO).

2. The pilot has successfully passed a check ride under 14 CFR '' 135.297 or 121.441 given by an approved company pilot check airman.

3. The pilot has successfully passed a check ride given by a military-approved instructor/check airman for an operating privilege.

4. The pilot has successfully passed a check ride for an aircraft type-specific aircraft rating to be added to his or her certificate.

Numbers 2 through 4 simply mean that when a pilot is taking a check ride for an additional pilot certificate or rating is getting an aircraft-specific type rating added to his or her certificate, this satisfactory completed ride will meet the requirements of a flight review. The FAA, prior to the ride, must have approved the examiner, instructor, or check airman. Upon satisfactory completion of the check ride, the 24-calendar month clock is restarted.

5. The FAA sponsored 'WINGS' program, officially known, as the Pilot Proficiency Award Program as outlined in Advisory Circular (AC) 61-91H, is another great way to accomplish the requirements of the flight review.

Satisfactory completion of one or more phases of the 'WINGS' program since the beginning of the 24th calendar month before the month in which the pilot acts as pilot in command can be used in lieu of a flight review to meet the flight review requirement.

As part of the 'WINGS' program, a pilot must attend or complete an FAA-recognized safety seminar. This may be in person or by completing an FAA recognized Internet safety seminar. The safety seminar can be sponsored by the FAA; an industry group; a local flying club; the local law enforcement organization; or, as in some small island communities, the local government that keeps the flying public and its citizens compatibly convivial. All that is required for those seminars not sponsored by the FAA is for the sponsor to contact the FAA in advance of the meeting to advise the Safety Program Manager (SPM) of the intended safety seminar and request the presence of the SPM from the nearest FSDO, and a supply of 'WINGS' program cards. The cards are filled out with the pilot's name, date of the seminar, and a signature of the officiating aviation safety counselor (ASC), FAA SPM, or a FAA Aviation Safety Inspector representing the SPM.

The card has lines to note the completion of the three required training flights the pilot will or has received within the 12-month period required for each 'WING' phase. Under the 'WINGS' program, each pilot must receive the training specified for the pilot's type of aircraft flown.

After the card is fully filled out and signed by the instruction(s), it is then sent to your local FSDO's SPM for processing. The SPM will then issue a certificate of completion for the designated 'WINGS' phase and issue the appropriate certificate and set of 'WINGS' for each phase up through phase 10. Certificates only will be issued for phases 11 through 20. Please note that all required training for a phase must be completed within a 12-month period. Although a pilot may start working on the next phase of 'WINGS' once one phase is completed, 12 months must pass between the date of the latest award and the processing of the next award. Again, the flight review clock will start anew with the issuance of a 'WINGS' program completion certificate.

6. For the CFI, it is even more simplified. Every two years the CFI must renew his or her CFI certificate. The regulation allows the CFI to accomplish the CFI renewal in one of three ways: (a) Successfully attending a Flight Instructor Refresher Clinic (FIRC); (b) Taking a CFI recurrent check ride with a DPE or ASI Ops: (c) Proof that 80% (at least five) of his/her students, who have been endorsed for a check ride, have passed on first try. However, if the CFI selects to do a full check ride with a DPE or FAA Operations ASI, that ride will also suffice for the flight review. The flight review clock will start at the completion of the CFI renewal. This makes it easy for the CFI's to stay current under both regulations, '61.56 for the flight review and '61.197 for the renewal of flight instructor certificates. Since both have to be renewed every 24 months, it is a natural. It keeps the CFI current on regulation changes, National Air-space System, aircraft handling, instrument procedures, and basic stick and rudder flying.

No matter which method you choose as the means to comply with 14 CFR '61.56, the most important thing to remember and have accomplished is getting your logbook endorsed by the instructor, check airman, DPE, military instructor/check pilot, or ASI! No matter who it is, do not forget to get his or her signature and correct statement for the type of checking that is accomplished, if the person has any doubt as to what the regulations require, you should refer them to AC 61-65, Appendix 1 for the recommended wording for the logbook entry for the type of ride taken.

Please remember, there are several ways available to you to stay current in accordance to 14 CFR '61.56. Make it work for you, and your aviation life will become so much easier and more enjoyable.

A.V. Peyus, Jr., is an Aviation Safety Inspector with Flight Standards.' General Aviation and Commercial Division.