Chief Flying Instructor

Guidance and Information to support Chief Flying Instructors (CFIs).



  • CFI requirements
  • CFI – General
  • Sharing the load
  • Communication
  • Helpful detailed guidance
  • Supervision
  • Site operations
  • Promoting safety
  • Disability gliding
  • Instructor administration
  • Access to information
  • Organisation of pilot training
  • Briefings and structured training
  • Identifying and developing new instructors
  • Developing the club instructors
  • Instructor Courses
  • The CFI as an examiner and checking instructor
  • Coaching pilots
  • Privately owned gliders and type conversions
  • Ageing pilots
  • Pilots flying with other pilots
  • The future
  • Contacts

CFI Requirements

Being a CFI is an important and rewarding role that can impact the success of any club. In addition to appropriate gliding experience, personal attributes and the ability to get on with people is important.

The person nominated for the CFI post shall have extensive experience as a BGA instructor, as set out in BGA Laws and Rules. Reporting to the club chair, the role includes responsibility for establishing:

  • standardised instruction
  • effective supervision
  • maintenance of student pilot training records
  • liaison with the Senior Regional Examiner

A BGA CFI Endorsement is a requirement. See Instructor Requirements

CFI – General

The CFI is appointed by the club. The relationship with the club’s Board or Committee  and the scope of the CFI’s role and authority within the club are critical. There needs to be effective communication and alignment between the CFI and the club’s Board or Committee.

The CFI needs to provide a role model for all the other instructors, and indeed other pilots who fly at the club. This means that in all normal circumstances the CFI is leading the way when it comes to safe and fun flying. If the CFI demonstrates poor flying or poor judgement, others will do the same. Equally, if the CFI engages in some good fun flying, flying the occasional competition, arranging an expedition or club competition and deliver standardised, practical, and safe instruction, others will follow.

It can sometimes be hard to for a CFI to find the time for their own flying, but it’s important not to let this aspect of a CFI’s gliding slip away. Flying a cross country on a rare decent day is likely to be more important than, say, an impromptu check with a club instructor.

CFIs need to understand and be able to explain the small number of rules and why they exist, and, importantly, encourage individual pilot’s awareness, informed thinking and decision-making.

It’s important to avoid a trap that results in everyone having to ask the CFI before anything can happen. That doesn’t work for anyone. Where ‘the CFI should ensure’ something, it can be most effective if the topic is addressed in the club operations manual. Club members cannot be expected to remember all the detail or read the CFIs mind. And CFIs cannot be expected to communicate the detail on a day to day basis. A written reference in the form of a site operations manual that is available to all pilots is important.

Sharing the load

In larger clubs, delegating some of the volunteer CFI’s activity is a necessity. It’s not possible for one person to cover everything on their own.

Identifying the potential next CFI and encouraging that person’s involvement as a deputy is a useful step.

Ensuring that there is Flight Instructor Coach (FIC) support within the club will be very helpful. There is more information below under ‘Identifying and developing new instructors’.

Using experienced pilots at the club qualified as Introductory Flight Pilots (IFPs) to deliver first flights by visitors can help the instructor team.

Training very experienced pilots to help keep an eye on the flying and ground operation takes the load off busy duty instructors who can find themselves juggling flying and oversight roles. Of course, formal supervision of student pilots, e.g. when flying solo, is an instructor’s role.

There can be a real risk of instructor fatigue. That’s not easy to resolve, but by engaging with club instructor’s needs, a CFI will identify changes that can help prevent an issue becoming a problem.

Remember that the Senior Regional Examiner and team are there to support and advise.


It is important for a CFI to have an effective method of communication with their instructors. Most CFIs have an e-mail list and others use tools such as whatsapp. Used with care and sensitivity, these methods of communication are very useful to highlight individuals training needs (with caution – it’s normally appropriate to tell the individual concerned that you will be informing other instructors) and new ideas and schemes operating at the club.

Forwarding BGA communications as requested helps the instructing team have a wide view of relevant issues and opportunities.

Instructor meetings are vital to bring together the instructor team. Many CFIs run these meetings as seminars to introduce new local or national ideas and training. Don’t forget to ask in advance for agenda items.

Club communication with members is often carried out in the form of newsletters or similar bulletins via (separate) e-mail and whats app, etc. It’s essential to keep everyone informed in a positive way regarding flying matters. Caution – poorly thought through communication channels and content will result in online friction and problems!

Helpful detailed guidance

There are many resources on the BGA members website that are really helpful to any CFI. Some of the key resources are:

The Gliding Syllabus

Pilot Training and Development

Instructor Information

Managing Flying Risk

Gliding Operations

Laws and Rules

No-one is expected to remember the detail. Knowing where to look is important.


 At one end of the scale, effective supervision of unqualified pilots by instructors is critically important and required. At the other end of the scale, being comfortable that experienced qualified club pilots know the club rules and safely manage the risk is also a proportionate level of oversight. There are numerous other aspects of gliding to consider, including supervision of first flights (eg introductory flights and trial lessons). A key issue with first flights is pressing on despite the conditions being unsuitable. The BGA guidance on first flights provides clear and helpful direction to those carrying out first flights.

Guidance on supervision as well as many other relevant topics is available here. 

Site operations

Site operations including guidance on developing a site operations manual is available here.

Working with the Club Safety Officer and Chairman, consider the hazards at the club site, and how to mitigate them. Where mitigation isn’t possible, it is good practice to ensure via the club documentation, e.g. the site operations manual, that all pilots are aware.

Promoting safety

The CFI role forms a leading part of the club’s approach to safety management.  The safest clubs have a proactive safety ‘culture’. The statistically safest clubs seem to be the most dynamic, engaging, and organised.

There are probably 10 occurrences for every real accident. Working with the club committee, CFIs can make a real difference by helping to promote openness about flight safety issues that crop up including a just culture, i.e. one where people feel safe to report all occurrences so that everyone including the club management team can learn from the experience and avoid a repeat. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself needing to patiently repeat important safety messages.

Disability gliding

There are millions of people in the UK with a disability. Disability gliding information is available here.  

Specific guidance for instructors can be viewed here.

Instructor administration

Individual instructors are responsible for ensuring that they hold a valid rating, are medically fit and suitably current. Clubs should take reasonable care to ensure that their instructors are suitably qualified and fit for purpose. An example is checking an instructor’s medical status. Another is that instructors should be periodically reminded of the requirements. Some clubs use logging software to assist.

BGA instructor ratings are revalidated annually before they lapse based on the published requirements. The revalidation is carried out by CFIs using the BGA e-tool.

Where a rating lapses, it is renewed via the published requirements. That usually involves a regional examiner.

It is a good idea for a CFI to stay on top of club instructor rating administration via the e-tool and the emails from the BGA office. Any CFI can contact the BGA office to seek advice.

Access to information

Just about all the information needed in gliding is available online. It is a good idea to ensure the instructor team (and club pilots) have internet access at the airfield. Where that’s a problem via the usual channels including 4G, there are alternative methods of accessing the internet in remote locations.

Organisation of pilot training

BGA pilot training requirements are detailed in the Gliding Syllabus. A progress card should be used to record training progress through to ‘qualified pilot’.

There is a BGA Student Pilot Manual available. Please encourage all student pilots to obtain their own.

The BGA Instructors Manual guides the club instructors. Please encourage all instructors to refer to it from time to time!

There are links to several resources here.

Once a pilot reaches solo standard and completes that significant milestone, there can be a significant risk that the pilot will soon give up gliding. The drop-out rate is measurable across gliding year on year.

Why? Perhaps in part because many clubs are not proactive with formal training beyond solo through to completion of the Bronze and Cross-Country endorsements. Making sure student pilots and instructors are aware of the training ‘journey’, structuring the training system at the club including identifying the various milestones (e.g. solo, theory tests, soaring training, first single seat glider, navigation, field landing training & assessment, etc) sets expectations and supports aspiration. Just ‘letting it sort itself out’ doesn’t work – it does need some organisation and maintenance as well as the co-operation of the whole instructing team.

Watching and contributing to people progressing to become experienced glider pilots is hugely rewarding!

Briefings and structured training

Student pilots progress if they:

  • are clear about the aims and objectives of a lesson.
  • feel safe as they are content that the instructor has thought about the possible threats and errors that might be made during the flight.
  • know what structure the lesson will take.
  • know who will fly during each part of the flight.
  • understand the point of each air exercise flown.
  • understand the theory behind what they are being taught in the air.
  • receive constructive feedback after the lesson, and a ‘way forward’ for the next lesson.

The CFI should set a good example and encourage all club instructors to provide correctly briefed and structured training. New instructors are taught teaching and learning techniques, including structured briefings. If guidance is needed by a CFI, the SRE or BGA Training Standards Manager can advise.

Identifying and developing new instructors

The BGA ‘instructor requirements’ that support BGA Operational Regulations 15-21 define minimum levels of standardization and maintained experience. An element of the CFI’s role is to encourage and support potential new instructors. With developing new instructors in mind, all club CFIs are encouraged to:

  • Be approachable and contactable by all the club’s pilots.
  • Encourage club pilot’s potential interest in instructing.
  • Be able to clearly communicate the experience required and practical steps needed to become an instructor.
  • Understand how club pilots can access instructor training.
  • Consider a periodic (perhaps monthly) ‘instructor development day’, where instructor coaching and development is prioritized. Or even arrange something similar at short notice if the right people are around and there are few student pilots looking for training.
  • Stay aware of ageing pilot issues and how those can affect potential instructors.
  • Make use of a Flight Instructor Coach (FIC). The role is incredibly important. Instructors who are selected for the role need to be suitably experienced, standardised, and approved by the BGA. There is FIC guidance here. 

Developing the club instructors

The BGA ‘instructor requirements’ that support BGA Operational Regulations 15-21 define minimum levels of standardization and maintained experience. An element of the CFI’s role is to encourage and support instructor development beyond the minimum level required to hold instructor qualifications.

With instructor development in mind, all club CFIs are encouraged to:

  • Be approachable and contactable by all the club’s instructors.
  • Be closely engaged with the club instructing activity.
  • Understand how club pilots can access instructor training.
  • Make effective use of a club Flight Instructor Coach (FIC).
  • Periodically sample instructors ‘products’, eg student pilots. Assessing training records and flying with all the club’s student pilots as the opportunities arise can help to identify areas of necessary improvement as well as good practice to share with other instructors. Listening in to briefings (without interfering or psyching out the instructor or student pilot!) can help too.
  • Establish a process that results in instructors having the opportunity to share views and experiences with each other. CFI led face to face instructor meetings work well and most can find the time to attend during the winter. One to one conversation can identify instructors gliding and instructing aspirations.
  • Periodically fly with all instructors (every three years is helpful but not always possible). A pre-flight briefing and a flight exercise followed by a discrete debrief is a great opportunity for both an instructor and the CFI.
  • Be proactive in addressing below par instruction by offering support including, if required, additional instructor coaching. Ensuring the experience is discrete and positive will usually result in a positive outcome for the individual instructor and the club.
  • Maintain clear, positive, and encouraging communication with the instructor team.
  • Appreciate that every instructor is different. Understanding how best to utilize instructor’s strengths is important, as is making sure each instructor is aware of any limitations. For example, the CFI may decide that only certain instructors may carry out specific aspects of pilot training, eg navigation.
  • Consider a periodic (perhaps monthly) ‘instructor development day’, where instructor coaching and development is prioritized. Or even arrange something similar at short notice if the right people are around and there are few student pilots looking for training.
  • If an instructor ‘drops out’, follow it up. The situation may be retrievable.
  • Stay aware of ageing pilot issues and how those can affect instructors.

There are opportunities for instructors to extend their BGA instructor rating privileges, for example through the BGA MGIR and through aerobatic instructing privileges. Please see Laws and Rules ‘Instructor Requirements’ for details. There is additional guidance re instructor training in aerobatics here.

Instructor Courses

Instructor training is delivered through several routes. The primary aim is the accessible training of safe, standardised instructors. The BGA Flight Instructor Coach (FIC) role is incredibly important. Instructors who are selected for the FIC role need to be suitably experienced, standardised, and approved by the BGA.

Introductory Flight Pilot

Normally run by volunteer coaches within the regions. Contact a BI coach or Flight Instructor Coach (FIC) to organise a course. The SRE can help identify a suitable coach.

Basic Instructor

Normally run by volunteer coaches within the regions. Contact a BI coach or Flight Instructor Coach (FIC) to organise a course. The SRE can help identify a suitable coach.

Assistant Instructor

Part 1 and Part 2 BGA assistant instructor courses can be run by a club Flight Instructor Coach (FIC) or facilitated by the BGA.

Full Instructor

There is no course requirement. Most candidates would seek refresher training with a club Flight Instructor Coach (FIC) before being assessed.

Full details are available here.

The CFI as an examiner and checking instructor

Occasionally, a CFI will need to check or assess instructors as well as guide club full rated instructors who carry out Bronze and Cross-Country Endorsement assessments.

The required standard is detailed in the BGA Examiner Standards publication, available here. 

When assessing someone’s suitability to fly with someone else, it is worth considering ‘would I allow that person to fly with one of my family?’ If the answer to the question is no, then more training is probably required.

Before carrying out an assessment, it is important to confirm the related training has been completed. Incomplete training records can be a headache. If as CFI it is felt after due consideration that an item in a training record is not relevant or necessary in a particular case, line through it and initial the line. If an item is found in a training record that needs addressing, highlight it. Above all, NEVER sign for something that has not been done.

Coaching qualified pilots

Why coach? Qualified pilots may want to expand their experience and being shown how to do something is a better start than relying totally on trial and error!

Coaching needs to be tailored for the individual with the individuals input and include ongoing direction. In the absence of this direction, it is easy to flounder, get bored or frustrated – and take up golf.

It might be an idea to have a central point of contact (an accessible and capable club appointed coach). Some CFIs give this role to a deputy CFI. A coach doesn’t necessarily need to be an instructor. They need appropriate gliding and soft skills. Where a non-instructor is coaching, the coach must be pilot in command and the person observing is a passenger. The flight manual describes which seat the pilot in command must occupy.

Some coaching ideas include:

  • Flight planning theory
  • Soaring meteorology theory
  • Using club glider equipment, eg moving maps, etc
  • Soaring techniques
  • Goal setting, eg briefed activities that can be flown solo and reviewed from a logger trace.
  • Moving around the sky (doesn’t need to be a cross-country)
  • Dual cross country flying (can be a simple sub-100km flight between airfield TPs)
  • Identifying national schemes, such as Junior Gliding events

Privately owned gliders and type conversions

Given clubs duty of care, it is entirely reasonable for a club to require its members to seek approval to operate their private glider on site.  The CFI should ensure that club pilots flying types that are new to them, whether club aircraft or private, are directed towards the Aircraft Flight Manual and practical conversion guidance, ideally by an instructor familiar with the type. There is detailed guidance in the BGA Instructor Manual.

Ageing pilots

This topic is detailed in BGA guidance ‘Ageing pilots’.

It is worth noting that where a pilot is unfit for any reason to continue flying as pilot in command, the alternatives are to fly with an instructor (who is pilot in command), or as a passenger of another qualified pilot (who is pilot in command). Be careful of the term ‘safety pilot’ – it has no legal standing unless its a formal arrangement with the CAA.

Pilots flying with other pilots

Pilots flying together in private or club two-seat gliders is increasingly popular. Some prefer that to single seat flying. Two-seater flying is great fun, but once the dynamic of two people in the cockpit is introduced, there are a few traps that can catch the unaware. These traps can be managed if they are thought about before getting airborne; they usually revolve around how the crew resource (ie both pilots) manage themselves. It’s important to recognise that there can only be one Pilot in Command, who must be a qualified pilot. Full details are available in BGA guidance on ‘Flying with other pilots’.

The future

The UK has retained the EU Sailplane Flight Crew Licensing (SFCL) and Declared Training Organisation (DTO) rules which will be required for all those flying Part 21 sailplanes from September 2025.

As a result, the BGA has a DTO in place that includes activities at several clubs that support pilots who are using specific privileges of their Sailplane Pilot Licence (for example, flying TMGs). Under the DTO structure, the club CFI holds the additional DTO role of local ‘Head of Training’.

Any CFI who needs advice is encouraged to read our guidance on SFCL compliant training and if following that they still have questions, to contact the BGA office.


Regional team and other contacts are available here.

The BGA office contact details are here.