The basic currency requirements for airplane pilots.
All USA sport pilots and higher who want to be legal to fly an aircraft must have a “flight Review” every 24 calendar months. This has been known as the “biennial flight review”.
Additionally, each airplane pilot must perform 3 takeoffs and landings in a make/model aircraft within the last 90 days to carry a passenger.
And finally, everyone must have the proper “medical eligibility” to fly an aircraft. Sport pilots and pilots operating as sport pilots can use their valid state drivers license as “medical eligibility”, anyone operating as a private pilot must have a 3rd class FAA medical.
Basics for all airplane pilots
It must be noted that if you want to take a flight review in a type of aircraft, you must be qualified to fly the aircraft first. If you are an airplane private pilot you must take a proficiency check per 61.321 to be qualified to fly that particular airplane.
The following should take the mystery out of a flight review. It is designed mainly for sport pilots but also apples to private pilots:
The flight review has previously been called a “Biennial Flight Review” or BFR. It is a comprehensive guide to prepare any pilot or Certified Flight instructor (CFI) taking a flight review, or is also used by a CFI performing a flight review.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who needs a flight review?
14 CFR §61.56 states that every certificated pilot, sport and higher must take a flight review every 24 calendar months in order to maintain pilot-in-command (PIC) privileges.
What about Recreational/Private pilots and higher who want to fly Light Sport Aircraft?
If you have a pilot’s license already it is good for life. This is also your Sport Pilot certificate with no new sport pilot certificate needed. If your medical has expired, you can now use your driver’s license as your medical eligibility to fly Light-Sport Aircraft (however, if your medical has been denied or revoked, you must clear it to use your drivers license as your medical in the future). This flight review guide will help you prepare for the flight review that is required to exercise sport pilot privileges and fly Light-Sport aircraft.
What is the flight review?
The flight review has been an FAA requirement since 1974 and was developed to curb pilot-related accidents. A standard flight review should offer an effective learning experience that will further reduce pilot-related accidents.
There has been confusion about the nature of the flight review. It is not intended to be another checkride, but rather instructional with an assessment of the pilot’s skills, with the sole objective to determine if the pilot is safe in the operations he/she usually conducts. It is meant to determine your ability to handle the airplane safely and with good judgment. The maneuvers performed in the flight should reflect the pilot’s experience and type of flying; the actions should be predictable to the instructor and conform to local procedures, with safety being the main concern. The flight review should be considered an opportunity. It could be performed annually, as recurrent or refresher training, or biennially, as required by 14 CFR §61.56.
What are the requirements (14 CFR 61.56)?
How a flight review is conducted is determined by the flight instructor, but the FAA does have minimum requirements necessary:
- 1 hour of flight training and 1 hour of ground training
- A review of 14 CFR Part 91 (commonly known as FAR Part 91)
- A review of those maneuvers and procedures necessary for the pilot to demonstrate the safe exercise of the privileges of the pilot certificate
- A logbook endorsement stating the satisfactory completion of the check
Options for completing the flight review?
With safety in mind, the flight review can be completed in a manner beneficial to the pilot:
- A flight review with a flight instructor
Everyone can use some dual flight instruction periodically. This is a prime opportunity to brush up on skills not frequently used. If flights normally take place at a nontowered airport, flight into a busier airport could increase proficiency in radio communications, and airspace. If straight and level is the normal attitude, some unusual attitudes would be beneficial. If flights are normally conducted within the local area, a cross-country could be planned.
This is the suggested route to take for those that don’t have the opportunity to fly as frequently as they might like—work off that rust!
- Upgrade your pilot certificate
The FAA does not specify which aircraft a candidate must use for the flight review (however, this might change in the future). With this in mind, this would be a prime opportunity to get that private upgrade, or new add a class such as a sea-rating, or a category such as Glider, Weight-Shift, Powered Parachutes or Gyrocopter. Any checkride or proficiency check meets the requirements of a flight review, so the sky’s the limit! The FAA also states the flight review requirements can be accomplished in combination with other recency requirements: interpreted, this means candidates can add category/class or upgrade pilot certificates (keep in mind that additional tasks will be added to meet both requirements).
This is the suggested route for those who are flying frequently, have little rust on their skills, and who are looking to expand their flying horizons. Again, safety is the main issue, and careful consideration should be taken before deciding which aircraft will be used. The NTSB suggests taking the flight review in the aircraft most frequently flown, or the most complicated aircraft for which you are rated.
- The Wings Program
A person who has satisfactorily completed one or more phases of an FAA-sponsored pilot proficiency award program (the Wings Program) meets the requirements of a flight review. This program was developed as a way to promote proficiency and safety, while providing a motivation for pilots to do so. What pilot doesn’t feel satisfaction with an earned pair of wings?
This is the suggested route for anyone wanting to further their skills in their chosen aircraft, with the FAA monitoring their progress. It is a fantastic program, giving pilots the opportunity to attend some FAA safety seminars—and be rewarded for meeting their own requirement.
What are some references for the flight review?
Although the regulation (14 CFR 61.56) does not specify exactly what information or which maneuvers should be included in a flight review, the FAA has provided some guidance to include suggested procedures. Ultimately the contents of a flight review are at the discretion of the flight instructor, but for a consistent and thorough check, consult the following references:
Guidance Document: “Conducting an Effective Flight Review” found at:
and the Advisory Circular
“Currency and Additional Qualification Requirements For Certified Pilots” AC 61-98A
Both are highly recommended for CFI’s performing flight reviews.
The following FAA documents are used as references throughout the book. Be sure to use the latest revision of each document when preparing for your flight review:
FAR/AIM book (current version)
14 CFR Part 61 Certification: Pilots, flight instructors, and ground instructors
14 CFR Part 91 General operating and flight rules
14 CFR Part 43 Maintenance, preventive maintenance, rebuilding, and alteration
NTSB Part 830 Notification and reporting of aircraft accidents and incidents
AIM Aeronautical Information Manual
AC 00-6A Aviation Weather
AC 00-45E Aviation Weather Services
AC 60-22 Aeronautical Decision Making
FAA-H-8083-25 Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge
FAA-H-8083-3 Airplane Flying Handbook
Checklist for instructor performing flight review
The following is an example of an instructor checklist to ask the pilot or CFI applicant taking the flight review.
Name _________________________ Telephone _________________________
All certificates, ratings ____________________________________________
Current now? __yes ___no, If no, how long since current?____________________
What type of flying do you typically do? ____________________________
Last training? ____________________________________________
How much flying time in last year? _________________________
Aircraft for test – make and model _________________________ N number _____________
Areas where training might be needed (weak areas)?__________________________________
Location of test – time and date _________________________
Class of airman medical certificate or valid U.S. driver’s license (if applicable) ________
Aircraft – certificates, logbooks, and equipment _________________________
Logbook flight time records _________________________
Fee discussed with payment obligation _________________________
Typical Flight review Questions asked by Pilots about the flight review
1. Who must take the flight review?
All pilots who wish to exercise their pilot-in-command (PIC) privilege and do not meet the exemptions listed below. A pilot would be in violation of 14 CFR §61.56 if he/she acts as pilot-in-command after the expiration date of the flight review.
2. What procedures would exempt a pilot from the flight review requirement?
The following serve as exemptions from the flight review:
14 CFR §61.58 pilot proficiency check
14 CFR Part 121 pilot proficiency check
14 CFR Part 135 pilot proficiency check
14 CFR Part 141 chief pilot proficiency check
Military pilot proficiency check
Any proficiency check administered by the FAA or a Designated Pilot Examiner
Pilot examiner annual flight check
Checkride for any certificate or rating
Procedures specifically authorized by the FAA
Satisfactory completion of any phase of the FAA “Wings” program
3. Who can perform a flight review?
Any current Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) or other person designated by the FAA.
4. Is the FAA notified of an unsuccessful flight review?
No. The logbook endorsement states only satisfactory completion of the flight review. If the person issuing the flight review does not give the pilot the required endorsement, that pilot has the option of getting some dual instruction in the inadequate areas, or taking the flight review with another flight instructor.
5. Do student pilots require a flight review?
No. Flight reviews are required only by pilots holding a sport, recreational, private, commercial, flight instructor, or airline transport pilot certificate.
6. A pilot’s last flight review was completed on 3-22-06. When will it expire?
Flight reviews are current for 24 calendar months. This flight review would expire 3-31-08, or the last day of the month.
7. If a pilot has not had a flight review for more than 2 years, is his/her pilot certificate invalid?
No. Pilot certificates are issued for life, or until surrendered, suspended or revoked. Without a current flight review, however, the pilot may not act as PIC of an aircraft.
8. Can a pilot fly solo (be the sole occupant of the airplane) without a current flight review?
No. Solo flight requires the pilot to act as PIC which is illegal without a current flight review.
9. Does a pilot have to possess medical eligibility to satisfactorily complete a flight review?
No. But the pilot may not act as PIC, either during the flight review or any time thereafter, until medical eligibility has been obtained. This is a drivers license for Sport Pilot privileges, or a third class medical certificate for sport, recreational, and private pilot eligibility.
10. If a flight review is rendered unsatisfactory, does the pilot have to return to the same flight instructor for another attempt?
No. The pilot has the choice of using any authorized instructor.
11. Without a pilot having a current flight review, may an instructor endorse a pilot’s logbook for solo flight to prepare for the flight review?
No. Solo flight requires the pilot to act as PIC which is illegal without a current flight review. This would not be necessary anyway, because the flight review is not a test, but rather an instructional flight assessing the pilot’s skills in performing a safe flight.
12. If a pilot is presently taking dual lessons, do they have to take a flight review to act as Pilot in command (PIC)?
Yes. Dual lessons can only qualify as a flight review if the flight instructor conducts the lesson with those intentions, meets the requirements specified in 14 CFR §61.56, and issues the endorsement after a satisfactory completion of the flight.
13. Can a pilot ask a flight instructor for a flight review endorsement without actually flying during the review?
No. As required by 14 CFR §61.56, 1 hour of flight and 1 hour of ground training is required to qualify as a flight review.
14. Does a pilot have to get a flight review in each category and class of aircraft for which they are rated?
No. The satisfactory completion of any flight review allows pilots to exercise PIC privileges in all categories and classes of aircraft for which they are rated. However, since safety is the main issue, pilots may elect to get a flight review in each category and class held on their pilot certificates.
15. Does the flight review have to include all the oral questions and flight maneuvers contained in the Practical Test Standards?
No. The pilot is required to answer only the questions and perform only those maneuvers and procedures determined by the flight instructor as necessary to demonstrate the safe exercise of the privileges of the pilot certificate. However, this implies that the pilot should be able answer the questions and perform the maneuvers at the level recognized by each certificate.
16. Is there a written examination required by the FAA for completion of a flight review?
No. There is not a requirement for a written; however, the candidate must demonstrate knowledge of the general operating and flight rules of Part 91, and the flight instructor may choose to do this through a written or oral exercise. Many flight instructors ask candidates to complete a short written review before meeting to complete the flight review.
Another option is for the applicant to complete the FAA’s online course for the flight review. This scenario-based multiple-choice quiz reviews Part 91 and the AIM in preparation for your next flight review. Upon successful completion of the course you can print a certificate of achievement. This course is available at www.faasafety.gov; select the Learning Center tab, and follow the links for the available Online Courses.
17. How can a pilot prove satisfactory completion of a flight review?
The satisfactory completion of a flight review requires a logbook endorsement by the flight instructor giving the review.
This endorsement may appear as follows:
I certify that (First name, MI, Last name), (pilot certificate), (certificate number), has satisfactorily completed a flight review of §61.56(a) on (date).
J.J. Jones 987654321 CFI Exp. 01-31-08
18. Does the logbook endorsement mean the pilot must carry his/her logbook at all times as proof of the completion of the flight review?
No. The pilot must present the endorsement only when asked by an authority (FAA, NTSB, law enforcement officer, etc.), or by a Fixed Base Operator (FBO) in order to rent an aircraft. Note: Sport pilots must carry a logbook endorsement (a copy or separate card is sometimes used so the pilot does not have to carry complete logbook) of their category/class of aircraft but not the flight review with them.
19. Can the flight review be logged as PIC flight time?
If the pilot is the sole manipulator of the controls, and the pilot is current then the flight review is completed, and the pilot and instructor determine that the pilot is going to be the PIC for the flight review, it can be logged as PIC time. If receiving dual instruction, then it should be logged as dual. The pilot-in-command should be determined between the candidate and the flight instructor before beginning the review flight.
20. Must the aircraft have dual controls?
Yes. Per 91.109 flight training must be performed with dual controls.
Typical information/flight review questions asked by flight instructors performing a flight review
21. Who acts as PIC during the flight review?
PIC should be determined prior to the flight so there is a clear understanding of responsibilities. This decision should be made after inspecting the pilot’s logbook for currency, pilot certificate, and medical eligibility to ensure the candidate is qualified to act as PIC.
22. What is the minimum time required for a satisfactory flight review?
14 CFR §61.56 requires 1 hour of flight and 1 hour of ground training.
23. What subjects should be covered during the ground training?
The FAA specifies only a knowledge of 14 CFR Part 91. The objective of the flight review is safe flight by the candidate, so each ground training should be tailored to the pilot’s experience, and type of flight normally conducted. This is a learning experience—the training should be broad enough to be comprehensive, yet have enough depth to provide a forum for learning.
Encourage your students to complete the FAA’s online course for the flight review before meeting, to lay the groundwork for your ground training. This scenario-based multiple-choice quiz reviews Part 91 and the AIM in preparation for your next flight review. Upon successful completion of the course you can print a certificate of achievement. This course is available at www.faasafety.gov; select the Learning Center tab, and follow the links for the available Online Courses.”
24. What maneuvers are required during the flight portion of the flight review?
The FAA specifies only those maneuvers and procedures which, at the discretion of the person giving the review, are necessary for the pilot to demonstrate the safe exercise of the privileges of the pilot certificate.
25. Which ratings are required for a flight instructor to conduct flight reviews?
The aircraft category and class used for the flight review must appear on the flight instructor’s certificate.
26. Must the flight instructor possess a current medical certificate to conduct a flight review?
Yes and no (look at specific situation)
For a CFI performing a flight review for a Sport Pilot (which must be in a LSA)
No. However, a drivers license is required if the CFI is to be the pilot in command (PIC) for the flight review. The CFI can perform a flight review without any medical eligibility, therefore the Pilot/applicant must be the PIC of the aircraft, requiring the pilot/applicant be current.
For CFI performing a flight review for a standard category aircraft that does not qualify as a light sport aircraft.
No. However, this would force the role of PIC on to the candidate; it should be determined in the preflight phase of the review if he/she is qualified by being current for this responsibility.
27. Is the flight instructor required to have five hours of PIC flight time in each make and model of aircraft in which the flight review is going to be conducted?
No. This is an old requlation that is not applicable any more.
28. What responsibilities does the flight instructor have following a flight review?
Upon completion of a flight review, the flight instructor should debrief the pilot and inform him/her whether the review was satisfactory or unsatisfactory. Either way, the candidate should be provided with a comprehensive analysis of his/her performance, including any weak areas. If the flight review was satisfactory, the candidate’s logbook must be endorsed accordingly. If the review is unsatisfactory, no logbook endorsement should be made.
29. How should the flight time be logged by the flight instructor?
The flight instructor should log the flight review as PIC time, as per 14 CFR §61.51(e)(3).
30. Is the instructor required to keep a record of all flight reviews administered?
No, it is not required; however, it is highly recommended that they do so.
31. Are flight instructors required to get flight reviews?
Yes. Unless they meet the exemptions listed in question 2 for pilots, all pilots are required to meet the flight review requirement.
32. Can a flight instructor endorse his/her own logbook for the satisfactory completion of a flight review?
No. 14 CFR §61.195(i) and 61.421 says flight instructors shall not make any self-endorsement for a certificate, rating, flight review, authorization, operating privilege, practical test, or knowledge test.
33. Do flight instructors have to go to the FAA for a flight review?
No. Any authorized flight instructor may conduct the flight review.
34. Do flight instructor refresher courses (FIRC) serve as a flight review?
No. Refresher courses do not meet all of the flight review requirements; however, they do meet the one hour ground training requirement when accompanied by an endorsement specifying it as such.