Not too long ago, I met with a young pilot, who is in the process of finishing his commercial pilot certification. We talked briefly about how he was studying and preparing for his oral exam and flight test. He had asked me for a short oral quizzing session, but it appeared like he quickly regretted the motion. When he handed me his “Oral Exam Prep” book I said that I would like for him to run through one of his usual passenger briefings with me.
“There is no usual passenger briefing I use. I only have to explain the seat-belts!”
I asked him if he had ever flown with passengers, family or friends as a private pilot. While he had, he was only aware of having to show/ explain how to open and close doors and the use of safety belts to his companions. In his flight tests so far that had proved sufficient and he stated that he had never been asked any questions in addition.
“Usually my examiners told me that they where fine, when I started to speak and just asked me to start the engine and get going.”
I had him look up 14 CFR 91.519 Passenger Briefing and try to produce a briefing that would accomplish two things:
- Comply with the regulation.
- Brief Passenger(s) in a style that would actually teach them about what to do in case of emergency.
Note that the referenced FAR applies only to Large and Turbine powered airplanes in Commercial service, but there is no legitimate reason that we can’t VOLUNTARILY adopt that procedure for Part 91 operations.
(a) Before each takeoff the pilot in command of an airplane carrying passengers shall ensure that all passengers have been orally briefed on—
(2) Use of safety belts and shoulder harnesses.
(3) Location and means for opening the passenger entry door and emergency exits;
(4) Location of survival equipment;
(5) Ditching procedures and the use of flotation equipment required under §91.509 for a flight over water; and
(6) The normal and emergency use of oxygen equipment installed on the airplane.
This picture stems from Australia. The 185F was flown by a high time pilot on a charter flight. 3 people occupied the aircraft, which was struck by wind shear, causing the wing to touch the water, eventually flipping this aircraft on it’s back. Except for the pilot, all passengers reported disorientation and had a some struggles getting out of the submerged cabin. The pilot stated that he believed a previously (and recently) accomplished Helicopter Egress Training to have helped him to stay calm and organized. Consider taking one of these classes. Read and work through Advisory Circular 91-69A “Seaplane Safety for Part 91 Operators”
We need to make sure our passengers are properly briefed on how to egress in case of emergency. They need to know that the way of entering the cabin may not be the way out. Passengers must be aware and should be familiar with where to find flotation devices and how to use them. There is nothing wrong with having them demonstrate closing and opening seat- belts. One of the few things we need to pay attention to, is to place passengers with physical disabilities, so exiting the cabin is easily accomplished. It is imperative to brief and instruct our passengers with clear and concise commands, to ensure that they know exactly, what is expected from them. Further, explain the use of seat belt cutters, axes, fire extinguishers, and how to get these tools out of their compartments or holders, in case you are incapacitated! They need to know, that sometimes, letting water in, is the only way out. Spend some time alone with your airplane, and try to think of all the tricks you would try, to get out of a submerged cabin.
This posts intention is to refresh the thought process in your mind. Preparation is key. Make an effort and fine tune your passenger briefing. Exercise it with a pilot buddy or a CFI and tailor it for your specific airplane. A briefing card is a nice thing to have, as well. If you are going for a new pilot certificate, don’t let the examiner tell you that he/ she’s fine. Just like a pretakeoff briefing (which is usually not cut short) your passenger briefing may serve as this last minute rescue rope. Having the information reviewed and refreshed may make the difference, one day. Remember, the examiner is just a passenger – on this check ride!