Every pilot has to submit themselves to flight reviews in order to keep their skills and knowledge up to date.
Flight reviews are critical to you as a pilot because a current flight review is necessary before you are allowed to act as a pilot in command.
Even more important is the fact that flight reviews keep you safe.
They are a chance for you to receive further instruction, brush up on your procedures, maneuvers, and protocols, and show that you still have the skills to pilot your aircraft.
When undertaking a flight review, you will receive a minimum of an hour ground training and an hour in flight training.
Due to the fact that you need to receive training and instruction, a flight review must be carried out by a certified flight instructor.
The instructor must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration and hold a CFI endorsement.
They also need to be rated for the aircraft you plan to fly. This means that instructors who only hold an instrument rating cannot carry out flight reviews.
When booking flight reviews, you need to make sure that the instructor is certified to operate your aircraft. If you fly multiengine aircraft, look for a pilot with a multi aircraft rating.
It’s important to note that the instructor must have the correct rating on their instructor license.
For example, if they only have multiengine rating on their pilot license and not their instructor license, they cannot conduct flight reviews in a multiengine plane.
Can You Fail A Flight Review?
According to the wording of the FAA’s guidance on flight reviews, you can’t really fail. Instead, they use the term ‘unsuccessful.’
If your flight review is considered unsuccessful, the instructor will not endorse your logbook. This means that you will not be able to act as the pilot in command for any flights until you have a successful flight review.
In terms of flying, this means that you cannot fly solo as that would make you the pilot in command. You can act as a second in command and a safety pilot for instrument flights, but you will not be able to log PIC time.
Your pilot license is not revoked or invalidated by an unsuccessful flight review and no record of your unsuccessful flight review will be made in your logbook or sent to the FAA.
To have a successful flight review, you need to demonstrate practically and orally to the instructor that you have the skills and knowledge to fly your aircraft.
There isn’t a set curriculum for flight reviews because they should be tailored to the kind of flying each pilot does.
Before your review, the instructor should speak with you to get an idea of the kind of aircraft you fly, the category of license you hold, and the types of maneuvers you carry out.
These will form the basis of your review. The instructor will also, generally test you on basic safety, maintenance, and skills.
How Often Are Flights Reviewed?
Flight reviews used to be called biennial flight reviews because they had to be carried out every two years.
They still need to be carried out every two years even though they dropped the ‘biennial’ from the name.
The exact wording from the FAA states that:
no person may act as pilot in command of an aircraft unless, since the beginning of the 24th calendar month before the month in which that pilot acts as pilot in command, that person has;
— (1) Accomplished a flight review given in an aircraft for which that pilot is rated by an authorized instructor; and
(2) A logbook endorsed from an authorized instructor who gave the review certifying that the person has satisfactorily completed the review.
It’s not the simplest way of putting it, but in essence, you need to have a flight review every 24 months.
If, for instance, your last flight review was 05/22/2020 it would last until 05/31/2022. Notice that it lasts till the end of the month and not the day of the previous flight review.
There are some exceptions that can excuse a pilot from a biennial flight review. Mostly, these relate to situations where the pilot has been tested outside of a flight review for a certification.
For example, if you were receiving instruction to get your commercial pilot license and completed your pilot’s proficiency, you wouldn’t need a flight review for another 24 months.
Further information on exemptions can be found in FAR section 61.56, subsections d, e, f, and g. As stated, they mostly relate to pilots who are receiving training or have completed pilot proficiency tests.
It’s important to note that an instrument proficiency test does not create an exemption for your flight review. The instrument review is a completely separate situation and has no bearing on your flight review status.