Should Flight Instructors charge for Ground Instruction?

“We instructors seem to have some deep-seated hesitation about asking our students to invest in anything besides airplane rental.”

“Ground instruction is an important part of pilot training,” observes Pilot Examiner Jason Blair, “and to train effectively in the air, proper ground training must also be completed. I suspect we’d all agree that an aircraft cockpit with the engine running is not the best place to brief new maneuvers. This also means that ground training is an appropriate service for which to properly charge.”

We instructors seem to have some deep-seated hesitation about asking our students to invest in anything besides airplane rental. As a result, we tend to undercharge, or worse yet, not charge at all for ground instruction. That turns out to be a double whammy, because along with not earning any money for your expertise, when you’re teaching for free there’s less incentive for your students to study.

It may feel painful to our customers at times, but paying for ground instruction can actually save them money—by properly preparing for lessons they complete their training more quickly than if we must consume lesson time teaching material they could have learned at home. Unless you somehow incorporate the charges into other aspects of training, you simply must charge for ground instruction. Otherwise you’re demeaning our profession by cheating yourself, your flight school (if relevant), your customers, and other CFIs around you.


For more guidance on this topic, see Greg’s book, The Savvy Flight Instructor 2nd Edition.

2 thoughts on “Should Flight Instructors charge for Ground Instruction?

  1. I have no problem with an instructor charging for actual ground instruction. Whether we’re sitting inside a classroom, or even just sitting inside the plane talking about the lesson we’re going to have that day, that’s fine and I expect to pay for it.

    However, it seemed standard around here that instructors would charge for them sitting inside, drinking coffee, while I was outside preflighting the plane by myself. Or them walking to and from the plane, which was sometimes a good distance from the FBO – which isn’t my fault that they can’t park closer. Or the CFI entering in an entry on my log (which somehow, always took 10+ minutes to enter in the date, time, tail, and literally 6 words about what we did). Or worse, the time it took them to enter my time into their computer to create an invoice for me, and then the time it took for them to run my credit card and collect the money. THAT is simply a load of crap, and something we shouldn’t be billed for.

    1. I agree 100% with you, Jeff. Only actual ground instruction time should be charged. I hope you complained when those transgressions occurred, because that’s key to keeping everyone honest.

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