The key differences between C.F.I, C.F.I.I, & M.E.I

I was hoping someone could go into further depth on what sets apart the certifications to be a flight instructor once you graduate as a student.

Does a flight school like ATP help get its students their C.F.I.I & M.E.I as well? I was just looking at the timeline on ATP’s website and it says ‘Certified Flight Instructor’ by day 100 or 180 depending on whether someone starts from zero hours, or a private pilot’s license; i’m assuming this refers to ONLY the C.F.I, NOT the other two.

Does having the other two certifications help a Flight Instructor be able to take on MORE students as a means to build their 1,500 hours for the airlines FASTER than an Instructor that only has a standard C.F.I? How do you earn a C.F.I.I and a M.E.I? Do you have to have already been an airline pilot somewhere in order to get this kind of experience in order to train Instrument, and multi-engine flying?


I’m someone and I’d be happy to going into further depth so here we go!

Your CFI is your Certified Flight Instructor rating and this allows you to train students in SINGLE ENGINE AIRCRAFT ONLY (unless you take your checkride in a twin then you can only instruct in that). The MEI is your Multi-Engine Instructor allows you to train students in MULTIENGINE aircraft and finally the CFII is your Certified Flight Instructor Instrument and allows you to train students for their Instrument rating. If you look more carefully on the ATP website you will in fact earn all 3 ratings within the allotted time as part of the Career Pilot Program. You’ll get your CFI which is the big one and is required to instruct anyone in an aircraft. After the you’ll earn the II and the MEI as “add-on” ratings (again unless you do the ME first) to the CFI (much simpler process). The airlines have nothing to do with the process.

Obviously if you have all 3 (which you will if you train with ATP) you can train SE, ME and IFR students so yes you can train more students and therefore build your time faster.


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Hi Adam,

I was looking at my ATP schedule and it has me taking the MEI checkride before the CFI check. Just a bit curious as to why they set it up that way instead of taking the CFI check first.


It’s simply a matter of scheduling. The MEI in reality will be your initial CFI. After you complete it you will be a CFI but you won’t be able to instruct in a Single Engine aircraft until you earn that as an add-on.



The reasoning is that the initial Instructor rating checkride must be done in a complex airplane, and the C172 isn’t complex. Therefore the initial CFI is done as an MEI.
That is also the reason that the Commercial check is done first in the PA44.


Good point Yarden. I forgot that one.