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Flight Review – Myths and Facts

What’s wrong with the following statement?

“Part 61 of the Federal Aviation Regulations requires that a pilot must take a bi-annual flight review  within the past two years to act as pilot in command.”

Answer: Most of the statement is incorrect. Several pilots and flight instructors refer to the flight review as the bi-annual flight review. The term bi-annual means twice a year. Biennial means every two years, which is closer to the correct meaning. The FAA used to call the Flight Review a Biennial Flight Review, or BFR. The BFR was not required within the past two years, but rather within the past 24 calendar months. If you took a BFR on March 2, 2016, it would expire at midnight on March 31, 2018.

Several years ago, the FAA changed this rule to an Annual Flight Review or AFR, requiring a Flight Review within the past 12 calendar months. This change lasted for just one year. The Aircraft Owners and Pilot’s Association (AOPA) protested this move, citing that it put an unnecessary financial burden on pilots. AOPA asked for relevant accident data justifying this change. The FAA quickly reversed this decision, but kept the option open to quickly change the required number of months between flight reviews in the future as they saw fit. To stress the temporary nature of the 24 month time requirement, the FAA renamed the BFR and currently refers to it simply as a Flight Review. Also, a pilot doesn’t just take a flight review. Instead, the pilot must satisfactorily complete the Flight Review. In FAR Part 61, other options are offered to meet the requirement of the Flight Review as well.

There are some major similarities and differences between a Flight Review and an Airman Certification Test (FAA check ride).


Part 61 requires that the pilot performance is up to same level of knowledge and skill that is required on the check ride for the grade of pilot certificate held, which is the level being evaluated. If a pilot holds a Commercial Pilot certificate, then the pilot must be evaluated as a Commercial Pilot and perform to the Commercial Pilot level, or the Flight Review cannot be considered to be satisfactorily completed. Both ground ( 1 hour minimum ) and flight (1 hour minimum) evaluations are required. The satisfactory completion must be certified. For the flight review, an endorsement of satisfactory completion is made in the logbook.


On the Flight Review, a pilot can practice, receive training and make repeated attempts on any of the items reviewed and tested. This is not allowed on an FAA check ride during testing. The flight review includes having the instructor review information and procedures with the pilot in addition to the evaluation. This is also not allowed on an FAA check ride. The Flight Review is usually given by a Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI). The FAA check ride, in most cases, must be given by an FAA-Designated Pilot Examiner or FAA Inspector. The FAA checkride is a pass-fail event. The Flight Review is either completed satisfactorily and endorsed as such in the logbook, or it is recorded as a flight lesson if the pilot failed to perform satisfactorily. If the pilot didn’t complete the Flight Review satisfactorily, the pilot must continue training and evaluation until satisfactory performance is demonstrated.

Specific Areas of Emphasis

The FAA released their latest version of an advisory circular in November 2015, that gives the specific requirements of how the Flight Review is to be conducted and completed. This advisory circular, AC 61-98D, also stresses the need for regular proficiency training and review and evaluation of skills needed to prevent loss of control (LOC) in flight and on the ground. The Advisory Circular also lists other options on meeting the Flight Review requirement. Also, the FAA provides Flight Review preparation information if you set up an account in the FAASTeam section, Login and research the preparation information for the Flight Review.  If you are a flight instructor conducting a flight review, you should study both of these publications thoroughly. Flight instructors should also refer to the latest version of the Airmen Certification Standards (formerly the Practical Test Standard) for the certificate held by the pilot taking the Flight Review. As a flight instructor, remember that you must have an aircraft rating appropriate to the category and class of aircraft you are conducting the Flight Review in. Be sure you and the student discuss and agree on the satisfactory completion standards before conducting the Flight Review. An instructor should keep a record of each flight review given. The flight and ground time for the Flight Review should also be recorded in the pilot’s logbook. A good flight review should be fun, educational and should include a proper assessment of the pilot’s proficiency. When done correctly and completely, a flight review can be another effective way of preventing accidents.

Posted 06-08-2016 and revised 02-07-2020 by Steve Shaner



  • Richard Laumeyer says:

    Can a flight review in a helicopter also be good for an airplane?

  • Steve Shaner says:

    Yes, as long as you held a helicopter rating on your pilot certificate at the time you took your flight review.

  • Bat says:

    Do l need to tsa clearance

  • Steve Shaner says:

    No you do not. If you hold a U.S. pilot certificate and you are taking a Flight Review evaluation or refresher training, a TSA background check or proof of U.S. citizenship is not required.

  • Mike says:

    If I was training for multi-engine add on and got a sign-off for checkride but couldn’t take the checkride due to Maintainance and weather issue could that sign-off flight be considered as BFR?

    • Steve Shaner says:

      Hi Mike,
      The check ride endorsement is not officially a flight review sign-off by itself. However, if your instructor reviewed and evaluated on the ground and in the air on one of your last checkride preparation lessons, all of those areas appropriate to the grade of pilot certificate you now hold and found you to have satisfactory performance, then he or she could make an additional endorsement dated the date of that session, stating the satisfactory completion of the flight review, using the proper endorsement wording. It would have had to include at least 1 hour of ground and 1 hour of flight.

  • Kent Edmunds says:

    Can the flight review be done in an experimental aircraft as long as it is airworthy?

    • Steve Shaner says:

      Hi Kent,
      The Flight Review can be conducted in an Experimental aircraft under the following conditions:
      1) The aircraft must have seating for at least 2 occupants.
      2) The aircraft must have fully-functioning dual flight controls.
      3) The person who is not the owner/operator must be advised of the Experimental nature of the aircraft.
      4) If operating at a controlled airport, the controllers must be advised that the aircraft is Experimental on calls to ATC.
      5) The flight must be conducted in day, VFR conditions unless the aircraft is otherwise approved.
      6) The aircraft must be operated within the limitations attached with the Airworthiness Certificate.

  • Sanket says:

    I am an Indian pilot working with an Indian Airline. Last year, I received FAA ATP on A320. Does the Proficiency check on the simulator count as Flight Review?

    • Steve Shaner says:

      Hi Sanket,
      A Pilot Proficiency check counts as a flight review if the following condition is met:
      The proficiency check was given by an examiner, an approved pilot check airman, or a U.S. Armed Force, for a pilot certificate, rating or operational privilege.

      If a simulator is used to meet the flight requirement in training, a Flight Review can be conducted in a simulator if it is used in accordance with an approved course conducted by a training center certificated under part 142 of this CFR chapter and the simulator must be approved for takeoffs and landings unless you have the current takeoffs and landings in flight required for currency. The simulator must represent an aircraft or set of aircraft for which you are rated.

  • Mark L. Fox says:

    I am a fixed wing pilot with an experimental that I built and also a balloon pilot. Can a pilot do a flight review in a glider if the pilot does not have the glider add on rating ?

    • Steve Shaner says:

      Hi Mark,
      CFR 61.56 (c)(1) states that a Flight Review must be given in an aircraft for which you are rated as a pilot. If you were already a glider-rated pilot, you could count 3 previous instructional flights in a glider, each of which would have to include a flight to traffic pattern altitude.

  • Wyatt says:

    I am a current CFI and also a airline pilot. I am renewing my CFI rating online. Every year I have flight training and a check ride in a simulator with a designated check airman to be current with my airline job. Do I need to take a BFR in a single engine aircraft to be current to fly one.

    • Steve Shaner says:

      Hi Wyatt,
      Satisfactorily completing a Pilot Proficiency Check given by a check airman within the last 24 calendar months covers meeting the requirement for a Flight Review. A Flight Review is good for all categories and classes of aircraft you hold ratings for on your Pilot certificate. As to the question of whether you are current or not to fly a single engine airplane, consider these points.
      1) If you do not plan to carry passengers or fly PIC IFR and you hold an airplane single engine pilot certificate rating on your pilot certificate, you are legally current to fly a single engine airplane.

      2) From a safety standpoint, if you haven’t flown a single engine airplane in a long time or even the type you plan to fly, you may want to go up with an instructor in it first to confirm proficiency and practice.

      2) If you plan to take passengers up in the single engine airplane in daytime hours, you must have logged at least 3 takeoffs and 3 landings in the same category (airplane) and class (single engine land) within the last 90 days first. If you take the passengers up later at night, you must have logged 3 takeoffs and 3 full-stop landings in category and class within the last 90 days during the period 1 hour after sunset to 1 hour before sunrise. If you take passengers up in a tailwheel airplane, you must have logged 3 takeoffs and 3 landings in a tailwheel airplane to a full-stop within the last 90 days.

      3) To fly the single engine airplane IFR as PIC, you don’t have to log any instrument flight activity specifically in a single engine airplane to be current. You must however, have logged 6 approaches, holding and intercept and track of a course within the preceding 6 calendar months.

  • Dick Stoops says:

    Can an ATP provide a flight review for a private pilot?

    • Steve Shaner says:

      Hi Dick,
      An ATP could only officially conduct a Flight Review for a Private Pilot if the ATP also held a current Flight Instructor Certificate or was a DPE.

  • Mikie says:

    does a helicopter 135 ride count as a flight review in a single and twin engine airplane?

    • Steve Shaner says:

      Hi Mikie,
      A Flight Review completion in an aircraft of one category counts for all other categories and classes of aircraft that are listed on that person’s pilot certificate. A pilot proficiency check or practical test conducted by an examiner, an approved check airman, or a U.S. Armed Force, for a pilot certificate, rating, or operating privilege can count as meeting the Flight Review requirement. Reference FAR 61.56 d (1).

  • Alex says:

    I am holder FAA ATP A320 TR.
    I am not US citizen living abroad and working for non US air carrier.
    My question is about PC for PIC
    May I consider my annual Line Check on the non N registered plane with non FAA examiner as PC in accordance 61.58, particular 61.58 d.2.?
    If it’s the case can this PC be accounted as flight review

  • Stew says:

    So a flight review conducted during the month of March is good up to the Las day of March two years later. Correct? (ie: another Flight Review is required April 1, two years later) only if the pilot plans to fly in April. Or June if the pilot will not fly until June. Correct? Thanks for your excellent help with many clarifications.

    • Steve Shaner says:

      Hi Stew,
      Yes, you are correct. If you didn’t complete the Flight Review requirement in March 2 years later in your example and you weren’t planning to fly until the month of June after that, you could wait until that month of June to complete the Flight Review before you resumed your other flight activities, providing that your CFI can act as pilot in command during that Flight Review. Your next Flight Review after that one would be due at the end of June, 2 years later.

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