California Flight Instructors to go Broke

California flight instructors and flight schools are on the verge of bankruptcy. The reason: California A.B. 48, a state law that, if passed, will levy heavy fees on Part 61 and Part 141 flight schools and flight instructors.

Learn To Fly - NOTAccording to the new law, flight instructors will be charged a $5000 application fee followed by $3500 renewal fees every three years. Even better, CFI’s who teach at multiple locations will be required to fork over $1000 for a second location. Furthermore, flight instructors will have to pay an operation fee of 0.75% of the CFI’s income. All of this in addition to the enormous expenses incurred to become an FAA certificated flight instructor. Does the term “nickel and dimed” come to mind?

What I find most concerning is the fact that most CFI’s struggle to make a living as it is. They are among the hardest working and lowest paid pilots in aviation – even more so than regional airline pilots. And now they are going to lose five grand before they fly with a single student. If I were a Californian CFI, I’d be looking very closely at jobs in neighboring states.

What Can You Do?

But there is still time to make a change, and Max Trescott – 2008 CFI of the year, and a Californian flight instructor himself, is asking pilots to help. From

If you can attend the public hearing in Sacramento on June 7, please go and express your concerns. You’ll find details here:
Writing Your Letter
Individual letters are more effective than form letters. Please write as little as a few sentences but not more than 1 page of comments telling your personal story and how these regulations will affect you. Explain the impact that complying with the new rules will have on you.

If you know a Member or staff aide, say so at the start of your letter and state if you live in the member’s district. Be courteous, constructive, and not negative. If the regulations seem to be the wrong solution to a problem, propose constructive alternatives. Staffs are severely overloaded, so confine your comments to one typewritten page and address only one topic: implementation of A.B. 48.
Contact Information
Please contact the following:
1.Joanne Wenzel Staff Services Manager III
Bureau of Postsecondary Education
1625 N. Market Blvd., Suite S 202
Sacramento, California 95834
Phone: (916) 574-7784
Fax: (916) 574-8652
2. Your California state assemblyman and state senator. To get contact information for your California state assembly and senate representatives, go to and click on “Find My District” in the left column .
3. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-558-3160
Email: fill in form at

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About the author
Pat Flannigan is a professional pilot and aviation blogger. He has been flying for fifteen years and is currently working as an airline pilot in the United States.

8 Replies to California Flight Instructors to go Broke

  1. Dave Pierce says:

    They should just tax tennis instructors- there’s a lot more of them, and they make a lot more money!

  2. Roger Concernedman says:

    Not going to happen. The FAA already stated that states cannot set limits such as these. Good luck enforcing this “law” CA!

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  4. Paul says:

    Thanks Patrick for doing your part to bring this to light. I really don’t understand how bureaucrats can be so completely clueless about aviation. Tax people to death and then wonder why all the jobs and people are leaving your state….unbelievable.

    • admin says:

      The situation is just bleh. Unfortunately the law passed, but there’s already a “fix-it” bill in the making, so there is still hope in California.

  5. k smith says:

    Wow! what an eye opener, I knew it would be tough to make it as a flight instructor but California lawmakers are doing there best to make it impossible to work in this state!! Typical situation, the takers taking away from the makers!! Good info.

  6. JetAviator7 says:

    No doubt this, at least for instructors in California, is one of the 3 key issues facing the aviation industry today.

    Hopefully common sense will prevail and the problem will get resolved.

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