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General Aviation Passenger SAFETY Briefing

story and photos by Susan Parson

Passenger Briefing – Complete

ou may find this item, or notified to fasten his or her

Y something similar to it, on

the pre-start checklist for
just about any small or pis-
ton general aviation (GA) aircraft you
fly. You are probably familiar with the

This is the item explicitly required

in the regulations, so it is a good place
to start your passenger briefing. The
safety belt and, if installed, his
or her shoulder harness.
(14 CFR 91.107(a)(2).)

In addition to these required top-

passenger briefings you hear on airlin- regulations give the pilot in command ics, it is a good idea to brief your pas-
ers, and you know that the regula- (PIC) two specific tasks with regard to sengers on how to adjust and lock the
tions—Title 14 of the Code of Federal seat belts and shoulder harnesses. seat position. This discussion is espe-
Regulations (14 CFR) §91.107—re- The first is a duty to brief passengers cially important for the passenger in
quire you to brief your passengers on on how the seat belts work. You can- the right front seat. Just imagine how
how to fasten and unfasten seat belts not legally take off unless: startling (not to mention dangerous) it
and (if installed) safety harnesses. …the pilot in command of would be for everyone aboard if an
That’s clearly important, but have you that aircraft ensures that each unbriefed and unsecured passenger
ever stopped to think about what else person on board is briefed on reacted to sudden rearward seat travel
a truly “complete” passenger briefing how to fasten and unfasten by instinctively grabbing the yoke.
in a GA aircraft should include? If not, that person’s seat belt and, if
you might start by taking a look at 14 installed, shoulder harness. Air
CFR 91.519, which outlines the brief- (14 CFR 91.107(a)(1)).
ing requirements for large and turbine- You want your passengers to be
powered multiengine airplanes and The second statutory requirement comfortable during the flight, so the
fractional ownership programs. While is a duty to notify passengers that seat second major item to include in your
not everything on this list applies to a belts must be fastened. Specifically, briefing is environmental controls.
typical GA airplane, it still contains all the rule states that no pilot may take Show your passengers where the air
the basic elements for a comprehen- off, land, or “cause (an aircraft) to be vents are located, and tell them how
sive and professional briefing. moved on the surface” unless: to open and close overhead and/or
Arranged for easy recall, here are the …the pilot in command of floor-level vents in their seating area.
items essential to a complete passen- that aircraft ensures that each Many GA airplanes have other envi-
ger SAFETY briefing. person on board has been ronmental controls (e.g., cabin heat)

8 FAA Aviation News

located somewhere on the instrument to door operation. Make sure that traffic any time you are in visual mete-
panel. If your passenger is airplane- your passengers know how to open orological conditions (VMC). It never
savvy, you might show him or her how the door(s) in the event of an emer- hurts to have extra eyes scanning for
to adjust some or all of these controls. gency evacuation. Since no one traffic, so brief your passengers to let
Remember, though, that for most non- needs the distraction and discomfort you know whenever they spot other
pilots, the instrument panel for even of a door opening in flight, it is also im- aircraft. In addition, tell them what you
the smallest GA aircraft is a bewilder- portant to brief your passengers on want them to tell you. A simple “air-
ing array of dials and knobs and properly securing the door(s). plane on the right” will suffice, but
switches that all look alike. Unless If your aircraft has doors on both since everyone can visualize a clock,
your passenger has at least some ex- sides of the fuselage, it is a good idea you might ask them to given you traffic
perience in GA aircraft, it may be best to develop and brief specific exit pro- information in terms of the “o’clock”
to tell them to let you know if they are cedures to facilitate rapid evacuation of positions used by ATC. The added
too hot or too cold, so that you can the aircraft. For example, you might advantage of this option is that pas-
make the adjustment. plan on keeping your seat forward to sengers listening to ATC communica-
The subject of air brings up a more allow rear seat passengers to exit via tions will have a better idea of where to
delicate issue—airsickness. Opinions the left door, while you follow the right- look when you get a traffic call.
differ widely on whether, and how, to seat passenger out the starboard door. Expectations for communications
discuss this topic with passengers. This method allows you, as PIC and —talking—are another good topic to
Some pilots advocate a direct ap- captain of your ship, to oversee the include in your passenger briefing.
proach, including a full briefing on loca- passenger evacuation before leaving Passengers may not readily under-
tion and use of airsickness bags. Oth- the aircraft yourself. For aircraft with a stand the term “sterile cockpit,” but
ers believe that a specific briefing single right-side door, consider what they will certainly understand that
triggers the power of suggestion in po- works best for a given group of pas- there are times when you need to
tentially queasy passengers, and prefer sengers. You might want to have the focus fully on your flying. Let your
to avoid the subject entirely. You be right seat passenger exit and move the passengers know that they should not
the judge of your passengers’ tenden- seat to allow rear seat passengers to attempt to talk to you (except for traf-
cies toward motion sickness, but if you follow, with you departing last. Alter- fic point-outs) during the busy take-
are in the “don’t tell” group, you will still natively, you might want to follow the off/climb and approach/landing
want passengers to know that they right-seat passenger but remain at the phases of the flight. If your intercom
should tell you right away if they feel door to assist in the evacuation of does not permit you to isolate the
uncomfortable for any reason. those in the rear seats. There is no crew, let passengers know if you ex-
single correct evacuation strategy, so pect them to minimize their own con-
Fire Extinguisher the most important thing is to think it versation during these times.
through in advance and communicate
Fires can, and do, occur in GA air- the plan to your passengers. Your Questions?
planes, especially with engine starts. Another part of the emergency
You obviously don’t want to scare exit briefing is to designate a gathering It is both professional and polite to
your passengers, but the extra pair of point (e.g., walk aft to avoid the prop conclude by giving your passengers
hands could be very useful if you find and gather at the rear of the aircraft). an opportunity to ask questions about
yourself fighting flames during any part If you carry survival equipment, point it any part of the flight. Since some
of the flight. If you have a fire extin- out to all passengers. Stress that safe passengers may be intimidated by the
guisher on board—you do, right? — and expeditious evacuation is the novelty of GA flying or embarrassed to
show your passengers where it is lo- most important consideration, but ask “dumb” questions, watch for any
cated, how to unlatch it from its consider designating one of your rear- signs of confusion or concern. Make
mount, and how to use it in the un- seat passengers to be in charge of a special effort to invite those ques-
likely event of a fire. carrying survival equipment out of the tions needed to clarify any part of the
aircraft if circumstances permit. briefing they did not understand. The
Exit, Emergencies, and Finally, be sure to explain any question time is a great opportunity to
Equipment equipment, such as supplemental reassure a reluctant rider, or to en-
oxygen, that passengers are expected courage a potential future pilot’s inter-
Passenger briefings on airliners al- to use during the flight. est in aviation.
ways include information on the loca- Passenger SAFETY Briefing –
tion and operation of doors, and yours Traffic and Talking COMPLETE. Let’s go flying!
must do no less. The location of the 5
door—or doors, depending on the Even if you are operating under in- Susan Parson is a special assis-
model—is no mystery on most GA air- strument flight rules (IFR), you still have tant in Flight Standards’ General Avia-
planes, so your briefing can be limited a responsibility to see and avoid other tion and Commercial Division.

(Cut, fold in center, laminate, and use to brief GA passengers)