There’s been much discussion in our industry of a CFI shortage, yet there’s a huge supply of potential CFIs among the ranks of airline pilots. However, many airline pilots are reluctant to take up flight instruction as a side job because of concerns over their exposure to increased liability that might put their personal assets at risk.
Greg, an airline pilot, emailed this question, which prompted me to create an entire episode of the Aviation News Talk podcast on this topic. He wrote:
I'm a 777 first officer with a major US airline. I was an instructor pilot in the Navy, and have my CFI,II,MEI. it's becoming common place to hear discussions, among my fellow airline pilots, about being approached by our local flight schools to start instructing again. A common concern is how to protect one's personal assets, heaven forbid, an accident should occur. Are there business structures that can provide protection, such as an LLC or S Corp? I thought this topic might make for a good podcast, as there are many of us "senior" airline pilots who would be interested in your thoughts on the topic.
I answer most questions for the podcast myself, but when I'm totally out of my league, I invite a guest onto the show to help. Fortunately, I knew an expert on the subject! John Ferrell is a founding partner of Carr & Ferrell, a Silicon Valley law firm that specializes in patent litigation and intellectual property matters. He's also a flight instructor, Cirrus CSIP instructor, & long-time SR-22 owner. In addition, he is a great guy and one of my favorite people!
In Episode 58 of the Aviation News Talk podcast, John talks about why he chooses to teach as a CFI, even though it exposes him to some additional liability. He talks candidly about his philosophy in life, which includes doing the things he's interested in doing, even when there's additional risk. Next, he talks about steps he takes to mitigate that additional risk, which includes insurance on his airplane, CFI insurance, and an umbrella liability policy. John also talks about carefully choosing the clients he flies with and the airplanes in which he flies.
John purchases his CFI insurance through NAFI, the National Association of Flight Instructors. CFI insurance is also available through SAFE, the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators, which is where I purchase CFI insurance.
Shortly after I posted episode 58, a CFI wrote to say: "The podcast with John Ferrell was excellent - I had always felt there was a lot of FUD around the liability issue, and John's views on both risk mitigation (plane, student, environment) as well as his perspectives on the practical insurances matters was awesome - well done!"
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