Is CFI required to be present during cross-country solo flights?

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by Jeff Szlauko, Jul 11, 2018.

  1. Jeff Szlauko

    Jeff Szlauko Pre-Flight

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    So obviously I don't mean having the CFI in the plane during the solo cross country flight, as it would then not be a solo flight. What I am referring to is this...does the CFI need to be present at the originating airport of the flight, and remain there until you return? I'm getting close to being certified for cross country solo flights, and my CFI said that when I go up on such a flight, he needs to be at the airport waiting for me to return. This seems odd, as what the heck he is going to be able to do to help me if a problem arises? It's not like he can magically teleport into the plane and fix the problem that arose. I can understand having him there before I take off, going over the flight plan, making sure the weather conditions are good, and all that. But once I've taken off, shouldn't he just go home?
     
  2. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Short answer: No.

    Longer answer: No, he doesn't.

    Longest answer: The CFI might want to be there, but there's no regulation he must be there. I have my students come by my house, we go over stuff, and I sign them off for the XC. Because I don't really want to drive 30 minutes to the airport if I don't have to go.

    If your CFI thinks he has to be there, ask him about the endorsements for repeated cross countries to the same airport.
     
  3. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    Depends on school policy. Mine wasn't there but then again, I owned my plane.
     
  4. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    There’s no legal requirement for presence. The requirements of the CFI stand though, since it’s his or her signature in the logbook of a non-rated pilot.

    I’d ask if he’s planning on charging ground time while he or she sits there.

    There are some legal requirements (and common sense) that they go over your flight planning and weather and NOTAMs and such with you. Perhaps they’re not comfortable doing that over the phone.
     
  5. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Tim has a point too, could be a school policy and the CFI might not have a choice.
     
  6. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    Echoing the others, not a regulatory or even a guidance requirement. There might be school policies or personal policies of the CFI. For example, I like to be at the airport when a student comes back from a first solo cross country. Lots of good value in a timely debriefing. But even then, depending on where the airport is, I might go home or somewhere else and return when they are expected. Or I might just find something else to do at the airport. I don't have to be there the whole time.
     
  7. Clip4

    Clip4 En-Route

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    Per the regulations both Part 61 and 141, the is no requirement for the primary CFI to be present during a solo XC. There is a requirement at a CFI be present to release your flight under part 141.

    The problem is somebody has to at least be on call if the student has a aircraft or weather issue. The school could require the primary CFI to be on duty for this purpose.
     
  8. kgruber

    kgruber En-Route

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    Not by the regs...............But if you run out of fuel, and he didn't check before you took off, the FAA will deem it is the CFI's fault.

    If you have ANY problem on the flight it is the CFI's responsibility. Period!!!

    So, short, long answer.....YES!
     
  9. OverTQ

    OverTQ Pre-takeoff checklist

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    As others have said, it's school policy. I attended and worked at a school where instructors were required to be at the school if they had a student on a cross-country, and the students paid ground time for the instructor while he waited, unless he was already going to be at work.

    He/she needed to be there to dispatch you before you leave, to provide company flight following, to debrief and close your dispatch when you return, to help put the plane away, and to be available by phone in case of any issues (i.e.: ATC calls to notify of an emergency, a student calls from the ground to report a problem).

    It was an extra layer of safety and accountability, and the instructors weren't expected to work for free, even if they were just standing by.
     
  10. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Oh hell no. That's BS. And I say that as a CFI.
     
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  11. OverTQ

    OverTQ Pre-takeoff checklist

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    In your opinion, should the instructor work for free/discount?
     
  12. flightwriter

    flightwriter Pre-takeoff checklist

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    My CFI was there when I left but decided to go to lunch before I got back. I still kid him about not waiting around to at least help me put the plane back in the hangar.
     
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  13. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    So using that logic, the student should pay the CFI the ground school rate every time they solo until the check ride. I call shenanigans.
     
  14. SkyDog58

    SkyDog58 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Sounds like an extra level of revenue generation. No more. No less.
     
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  15. OverTQ

    OverTQ Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yea, that's how it worked. Student pilots didn't fly solo without instructor interaction and monitoring. Again, it's another layer of safety and accountability.

    I didn't mind paying it as a student pilot. It seemed reasonable to me that the school would want someone supervising/monitoring a non-certificated airman flying solo, and that the instructor might want to be available when someone is flying on his certificate.

    As an instructor, I appreciated that I wasn't expected to work for free.

    Under most conditions, certified pilots training towards advanced ratings were allowed to dispatch themselves.
     
  16. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Personally I like to be there while a student is on a cross country. I don't charge however, I just like to be there if something comes up. Never heard of a CFI charging for it either. I've had to go pick up a student before because he got lost and landed at the first airport he saw. Smart. It would have been pushing darkness if I'd allow him to fly back from there, so another CFI flew me there and I flew back with the student.

    But no, a CFI does not have to be there.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
  17. OverTQ

    OverTQ Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I genuinely don't believe that was management's intent. They don't make much money on the ground rate.

    It's a pretty responsible risk management policy, in my opinion.
     
  18. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    How does a CFI pacing around a flight school, make a solo student's flight safer? It makes their wallet lighter but there is nothing a CFI can do unless he is with the student that is going to make a flight safer. How is it "work" if the CFI is doing nothing but standing by.

    I got no dog in this hunt so you don't have to answer. My questions were strictly rhetorical.
     
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  19. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    My instructor was neither there before or after any of my XCs. This was a little surprising to the flight school desk personnel as I signed out the plane for an early start.

    "John (a different flight instructor) will be here to sign you off."
    "No thanks, I'll just get Dale (my instructor) to do it."
    "He doesn't come in that early on Tuesdays."
    "I'll wake him up."

    Apparently, she was unaware that Dale and I shared a townhouse. In actuality, he signed me off the night before. He knew I had enough common sense to check the weather and not go if it was bad.
     
  20. bradg33

    bradg33 Cleared for Takeoff

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    WTF is "company flight following"?

    In any event, agree with the others that think, beyond the first solo cross-country, this is pure revenue generation.
     
  21. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Air Force Aero Clubs had it with SOFs ( Supvr of flying) but all they did was approve your flight plan,, not flight follow you. They were paid by the club, er members.
     
  22. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform Pattern Altitude

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    Maybe it also encourages students to get back to the home field sooner. I dawdled on my first solo XC and had a 3hr lunch with a friend (no Hobbs running during lunch). While I was on the return flight, the FBO left me a voicemail wanting to know when I was bringing their plane back. If my CFI was charging for ground time, I would not have planned a lunch, or just had a quick trip through a drive-thru.
     
  23. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser!

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    If I'm sitting around doing nothing I'm not working. And no I shouldn't get paid for sitting around doing nothing.
     
  24. Kansas Flyer

    Kansas Flyer Pre-takeoff checklist

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    My CFI reviewed my flight planning a day or two before a solo xc and signed me off. When it came to the actual xc itself he just wanted to be notified before I departed and when I returned. If forecast conditions had changed significantly from the original plan we discussed them over the phone prior to departure and made go/nogo decisions and changes as necessary.

    Now, my experience may not be typical because I wasn't renting. I used my Dad's Cherokee for my training so neither I or my CFI was answering to a flight school.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
  25. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That is pretty much what I do with my students. But I also don't work for a flight school with bureaucracy and the desire to pad pay checks at the student's expense. Then again I also only charge basically enough for gas to get me to and from the airport
     
  26. Kansas Flyer

    Kansas Flyer Pre-takeoff checklist

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    My CFI is pretty similar to you I suspect. He's independent and instructs as a side to his day job because he wants to.
     
  27. rk911

    rk911 Line Up and Wait

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    mine was coincidentally at the airport during my first solo XC but he was not involved in that or my other solo XC flights. he did review and approve my flight plans for my solo XC flights.
     
  28. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yep I pretty much do it just to get more people in the air.
     
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  29. OverTQ

    OverTQ Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I can empathize with your position, but I'd have to respectfully disagree, having seen the policies in action.

    Any student pilot solo flight started with an in-person review of weather, performance, navigation log, inop equipment, NOTAMs, etc. The student briefed the instructor, instructor made sure they didn't miss any important considerations. That's certainly an enhancement to safety, and added training value.

    Instructor is immediately available to address any questions during the preflight. I believe students are far more likely to ask questions that they should be asking if you're nearby, versus calling you on your time off. The same is true when they're parked at an airport 100 miles away. If they know you're monitoring them and on the clock, they're a lot more likely to reach out to you, with a justifiable expectation that you'll answer the phone.

    As a company, we employed flight following for non-local flights. Many operators do this (as you know, 121, 135, and others voluntarily). Any student or instructor/student pair leaving the area was required to flight follow with someone at base. This was usually a simple text along the lines of "Landed KABC" and "48 gal on board. Leaving KABC for KDEF". This is a much more responsive system than FAA VFR flight plans. For a solo student, the instructor has seen the navlog, and knows precisely when the student lifted off the airport. A well-briefed and attentive instructor is an excellent resource if an aircraft is overdue. It's absolutely a safety enhancement to have someone monitoring your flight.

    An added benefit is having a pilot at the airport that can come pick you up if you end up grounded (has happened), or bring you a mechanic (has happened), or arrange to have the fuel card brought to you that you forgot (has happened). If the worst happens, you have a person that can initiate the Emergency Action Plan. If necessary, that person can begin an airborne search along your flight path himself, or arrange for it with another company plane that--due to company flight following--he knows is in the area, or coordinate it with ATC.

    So, yes, for the reason above, I feel that it does enhance safety quite a bit. This was especially true for our school, which was in a mountainous area, had a lot of barren terrain between airports, and poor radar coverage down low.

    Noble, but I think most of the aviation industry would disagree with you. As a professional pilot, if an employer or contract client is stopping me from doing whatever the heck I want to do, wherever I want to do it, then I am "working", and I will be paid.

    In fact, I just finished a 10 day contract. I only ended up flying three hours during that time, but you bet I was collecting a day rate to be immediately available. Nine of those days I did precisely zero flying. No significant contingent of the industry finds fault in that. It boggles my mind that so many people expect donated labor or donated availability from those professional pilots that happen to be using the privileges of a flight instructor certificate on top of their commercial certificate.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
  30. LoneAspen

    LoneAspen Line Up and Wait

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    I suddenly just had a brilliant idea... Drive-thrus for planes!

    Just gotta mount the speaker box and window a little higher...

    But what to do about those pesky wings?
     
  31. kath

    kath Line Up and Wait

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    Mount everything *low* to the ground and serve high-wings.
    Let your competitor drive-thru across the street try to figure out how to serve low-wings. :)
     
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  32. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Everything you mentioned can be done from my house I don't have to be at the airport for it to happen. I also trust my students enough that I don't need to babysit them. One of them I signed off for a 4-Hour cross country as his first cross country.
     
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  33. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform Pattern Altitude

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    High wing. Argument over. :D
     
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  34. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser!

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    strut still gets in the way. Argument resumed.
     
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  35. SkyDog58

    SkyDog58 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    It would be a real long wait for the CFI if the student did a 1500 mile cross country.
     
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  36. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform Pattern Altitude

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    I’ll take a high-wing, hold the strut please...
     
  37. Clip4

    Clip4 En-Route

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    Ok, you are a CFI, signed off a student and go home. It is your time, you can do as you wish - go out of town to family picnic, drink a few brews what ever. Your student calls the flight school and says he is at destination 2 on his XC and the left mag is crap. It is now 4pm on Sunday and the rest of the CFIs have gone home. Do you tell him to get a motel room?
     
  38. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    Way to post the worst case scenario which wouldn't happen. Unless I'm a mechanic who can fly out and fix the student's plane, yes. Isn't that part of the training?
     
  39. Sinistar

    Sinistar Cleared for Takeoff

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    There's more to the story. The student picked the second stop because his ex-GF, who is now a exotic dancer lives there and works right next to the motel. Hopefully the CFI is drinking and waiting for the full story on Monday!
     
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  40. TommyG

    TommyG Cleared for Takeoff

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    I am calling BS, especially if you have to pay for this guy to sit around.
    I send students on x-country all the time and go about my day. Most likely the student has the CFI's cell number. So the CFI can be reached anywhere to assist. Being at the home field really doesn't give that much of an advantage if the student does call. Everyone has a cell phone, even the mechanics. Flight following, really? I can, and have sat on my couch tracking on flightaware. I doubt the flight school has it's own frequency to have students call in on, and if they do is it really in the range of communication for a x-country. So as I have done. LiveATC and you can here the student when they are calling in.

    Refuse to pay any CFI fee for him to wait around.
     
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