Flying Instructor Kaiwhakaako Waka Rererangi

Flying instructors teach people how to fly aeroplanes, helicopters or other aircraft.

Flying instructors may do some or all of the following:

  • prepare flight training programmes
  • teach students aviation rules and theory 
  • carry out and teach pre-flight checks on aircraft
  • teach students how to use aircraft controls, and how to fly during the day, at night and with instruments
  • test students' skills and knowledge, and write student reports
  • teach qualified pilots about new equipment and different aircraft.

To specialise in teaching people how to fly remotely piloted aircraft (drones), you usually need a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) qualification.

Physical Requirements

Flying instructors need to have:

  • good hearing and eyesight (with or without corrective lenses)
  • good reflexes and co-ordination
  • a good level of fitness and health, as they must pass a medical exam every year.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for flying instructors includes:

  • teaching
  • work with machinery
  • customer service
  • weather forecasting.

Personal Qualities

Flying instructors need to be:

  • safety-focused
  • supportive, patient and positive
  • excellent communicators with good people skills
  • able to think logically, follow procedures and act responsibly
  • good at making decisions under pressure.


Flying instructors need to have:

  • excellent skills in flight planning, flying, navigation and risk-management 
  • knowledge of how weather can affect an aircraft
  • knowledge of the techniques and theory of flying, and civil aviation laws
  • teaching skills.


Flying instructors:

  • may work part-time, or long and irregular hours, including evenings and weekends, and may be on call
  • work in classrooms and in training aircraft
  • work in conditions that can be challenging due to rough weather, and working with learner pilots.

Flying Instructors can earn around $44K-$70K per year.

Pay for flying instructors depends on experience, their employer, and what type of aircraft they teach in.

  • C category (entry-level) flying instructors usually earn between minimum wage and $30 an hour, and typically work part time.
  • B category (mid-level) instructors usually earn between minimum wage and $70,000 a year.
  • A category (senior) instructors usually earn between $70,000 and $100,000.

Flying instructors are usually paid by the number of hours they spend in the air. They may also be paid a retainer. Larger organisations have more students and tend to pay higher salaries. 

Source: research, 2020.

Flying instructors may progress to become senior instructors, or work as airline pilots once they have gained enough flying hours.

Flying instructors usually teach people to fly either aeroplanes or helicopters.

They may also specialise in:

  • particular types of aircraft such as propeller, jet, light or large commercial aircraft
  • agricultural flying
  • how to operate drones.

Years Of Training

3-5 years of training usually required.

To become a flying instructor, you need:

  • a Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL)
  • a Flight Instructor Rating (C Category).

Commercial Pilot Licence

To get a CPL you need to:

  • hold a Private Pilot Licence (PPL)
  • complete at least 200 hours of flying 
  • pass a Class 1 medical exam, written exams, an English language test, and a flying test
  • satisfy the Civil Aviation Authority's fit and proper person requirements – for example, by showing don’t have serious convictions.

The CPL enables you to fly small planes such as those used for scenic and charter flights.

Flight Instructor Rating

In addition to a CPL, flight instructors need a Flight Instructor Rating (C Category). You can train and qualify for this at an aero club or flying school.

Gain CPL and Flight Instructor Rating through tertiary study

You can gain your CPL and your Flight Instructor Rating (C Category) as part of completing either of the following qualifications:

  • New Zealand Diploma in Aviation – Aeroplane and Helicopter (Level 6) with strands in airline preparation and flight instruction.
  • Massey University's Bachelor of Aviation.

You need to pass the ADAPT pre-pilot screening test and attend a selection interview to enter these courses.

Flying Instructor