Pilot's Tip of the Week

Passenger Briefing

Featuring Susan Parson - view profile

Passenger Briefing

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Susan Parson:

"If you read the regulations, and we know everybody should have at least been exposed to the regulations at a certain point, in Part 91.107, specifically, the pilot in command has what I would call two specific jobs or tasks with respect to seat belts and shoulder harnesses.

The first one: it says that you have a duty to brief passengers on how the seat belts work. You can't legally take off until you've told them how to fasten and unfasten the seat belts. It may seem fairly obvious, but one of the things to keep in mind is that in many General Aviation airplanes, particularly the older ones, the seat belts don't work like the cars do. And people actually may need a little bit more of a briefing than you think they do. So don't take anything for granted. Assume that they need to know how to do it.

The second requirement that you have in Part 91.107, is you have to notify your passengers that they have to fasten their seat belts. So you have to tell them how to fasten and unfasten, but you have to tell them, also, that they must use their seat belts and shoulder harnesses if they are installed in the airplane before you take off, land or as the regulation says, "...cause an aircraft to be moved on the surface." I think most of us would call that taxiing, but you know how legal language goes. So those are the two main duties with respect to seat belts.

Now the other thing that you probably need to include in this part of the briefing - it's a very good idea to brief your passengers on how to adjust their seat position - but really important, how to lock the seat in place. It would be really uncomfortable for your passengers if the seat suddenly started to shift. And I have certainly had that happen to me, but fortunately, not at a time when it was critical.

But just imagine how dangerous it could be if you had a passenger who had not been told and had not been shown how to lock the seat in place, and make sure it didn't slide. The seat starts to slide back on takeoff, and the passenger just instinctively reaches out to grab the yoke, and you fill in the rest. It is not a pretty picture. So a briefing on seat belts, shoulder harnesses and seat adjustment is all a good thing to do."

Note: this does not constitute a complete passenger briefing, rather it is a reminder of one important part of the briefing.

Next week's tip: Flying a silky smooth ILS approach

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