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Training and Safety Tip: Flying with passengers

Brief for an enjoyable flight

One of the best aspects about becoming a pilot is the joy of taking friends and family members flying. For many of your passengers, the flight with you will be their first in a general aviation aircraft. The passenger briefing is an essential part of those flights.

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Start with a general overview by walking your passengers around the aircraft and answering their questions. When your passengers are ready to climb in, keep in mind that just getting on board a small aircraft can be intimidating. Point out where the handle is, where to step, and, for low-wing aircraft, which part of the wing may be walked on. It’s a good idea to have a cushion or pillow available for passengers to sit on, as that may help them to enjoy the view.

Next, show your passengers how to fasten and unfasten their seat belt. Describe it in terms your passengers will be familiar with—such as that it’s similar to an airline seatbelt. First demonstrate how it works, then ask your passengers to unlatch and latch on their own.

Once your passengers are comfortable with the seatbelts, show them how to latch and unlatch the door. Again, demonstrate and then have your passengers practice it on their own. As pilot in command, you should ensure that everyone on board is safely secured in the aircraft and also has the ability to exit the airplane on their own.

You know from your flight training that communication during a flight is essential. Provide your passengers with headsets that fit well. First-time passengers are often surprised at how close to their mouth the mic needs to be, so demonstrate that and then ensure you can hear each other clearly. Encourage passengers to speak up during the flight if they have questions or concerns, and to point out other airplanes they see.

Lastly, your passengers should know where to locate, and how to use, emergency equipment. While it’s good practice to include that in the passenger briefing, you should also have it in writing as a reference. The AOPA Air Safety Institute makes it simple—just download and complete a Passenger Safety Briefing Card.

Sharing your love of flying is memorable for you and your passengers. By providing a thorough briefing you will make it even more enjoyable for all on board.

ASI Staff

Kathleen Vasconcelos

Kathleen Vasconcelos is an instrument-rated flight instructor and a commercial pilot with multiengine and instrument ratings. She lives in New Hampshire.
Topics: Flight Planning, Situational Awareness, Training and Safety
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