You’ll want to understand your passengers’ needs. They may have special equipment such as a wheelchair or oxygen for a patient transport flight, or special camera equipment and photo platform requests for an environmental/surveying flight. In addition, you’ll be confirming specifics with the volunteer group’s trip coordinator about the number of passengers, their weights, and luggage. In the event of an animal rescue flight, you’ll have to work out details for securing the animals and making sure they are comfortable during the flight.
Note: Oxygen and certain equipment must be approved by appropriate regulatory agencies such as the FAA and/or DOT for use in aircraft, especially if equipment is attached to the aircraft.
This Is Your Captain Speaking
Think of yourself as an airline pilot who’s choosing the smoothest flight level ride for her passengers. You should apply the same consideration during a volunteer flight. This is especially important as passengers may be nervous or not feeling well; understanding their needs is paramount to everyone’s safety and comfort. You’ll have ample opportunity to manage their expectations of the flight during initial contact, at which time you can also confirm their special needs.
Preflight, cabin, and emergency procedures briefings should be at the top of your list before takeoff.
How Is Everyone Doing?
If at any time you anticipate flight conditions that might leave your passengers uncomfortable, please cancel the flight—you don’t want to add to their stress. Also make it a point during the flight to ask how everyone’s doing. Pay attention to how they respond—their tone can alert you to potential air sickness or deteriorating comfort.
Preflight, cabin, and emergency procedures briefings should be at the top of your list before takeoff. Go well beyond the FAA legal specifications, which require that all passengers are secured with safety belts (and shoulder harnesses, if installed) and instructed on their use before moving the aircraft. But don’t stop there! Discuss what might happen in the unlikely event of an emergency landing and how your passengers can assist or call for help.
Critical Information: The Passenger Safety Briefing
This video offers NTSB and CAP experts’ survival tips. Also, explore the single best way to increase your odds of rescue, including an emergency equipment/rescue information briefing card to download and share with your passengers.
Note: Child restraint seats must be approved by the FAA and other regulatory agencies for use in an aircraft.