Gold Seal Flight Instructor certificates are issue by the Federal Aviation Administration to only those flight instructors who have met the criteria established in FAA Orders 8700.1. These requirements are stringent, and are intended to ensure that the flight instructor can teach and evaluate a large number of student pilots while maintaining a high degree of professionalism and success, as measured by the number of students who succeed in attaining their license on their first attempt.
To be eligible to receive a Gold Seal certificate, an instructor must hold a commercial pilot certificate with an instrument rating, with the exception of glider instructors who do not need an instrument rating. This requirement can also be fulfilled with an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate, which certifies the instructor to be pilot-in-command (captain) of aircraft weighing more than 12,500 lbs. (5,600 kg).
Ground Instructor Certificate
The FAA requires that instructors hold a ground instructor certificate with an instrument ground instructor or an advanced ground instructor rating. An instrument ground instructor rating certifies the flight instructor to teach the ground school (classroom) component of an instrument rating course. On the other hand, an advanced ground instructor rating certifies that the instructor is competent to teach the ground school component of many additional, special pilot and instructor training courses such as commercial pilot, multi-engine and Chief Flying Instructor (CFI) refresher courses.
Within 24 months of seeking a Gold Seal Flight Instructor certificate, the instructor must have trained and recommended a minimum of 10 applicants for a practical test, of whom at least eight must have passed the tests on the first try. In addition to this requirement, the instructor must have conducted a minimum of 20 practical tests as a designated pilot examiner, or conducted a minimum of 20 graduation tests as chief instructor of a Title 14 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) Part 141-approved pilot school course. A combination of these two criteria is also applicable, in which case the FAA considers two practical tests conducted by the instructor as being equivalent to one applicant trained and recommended for a practical test.