This article is intended for those of you who fly with a family member or friend or flying buddy. The idea of crew coordination is not limited to airlines or military flying as it can lend to the safety of your flights by using the other person to back you up.
written by Lt. Col Marc Nathanson (Ret.) FAA Designated Pilot Examiner:
Lets begin by looking a passenger briefing I made for the Cessna 172. As with any personal checklist, I tried to cover all contingencies, however, this is not possible as we witnessed by the loss of life after the crash of an airliner in California a few months ago. People survived the crash, but at least one person was killed when they were run over by a responding vehicle. You will note that I include 'watch for vehicles' in my check list. Even though the FARs don’t require the use of seat belts and shoulder harnesses after takeoff and landing, I require my passengers to wear their them at all times. You don’t want to have to contend with an unsecured passenger during the bumpy flights.
C-172: Emergency Exit:
Now you are ready for takeoff. Unfortunately, things can go wrong so here is a briefing for the 172 that lets your flying buddy know what your plan is. Note, and this is very important, in #3, I included the procedures I teach my students if the engine fails on takeoff with no runway remaining to land on.
Do NOT attempt to turn the aircraft around using my method unless you receive instruction from a competent instructor who has been teaching and understands this procedure. I teach my students this procedure and ensure they are competent in performing it before solo along with one spin ride in our Super Decathlon. With this said, you must learn how much you can turn the aircraft without engine power at glide speed.
On practical tests, I often hear applicants state that they won’t turn at all until reaching a specific altitude, normally 1,000’ AGL. So, at 500’ AGL why glide straight ahead into a stone wall, a lake full of Piranhas, alligators or other dangerous terrain when a turn of only a few degrees will put you into a nice flat field. You can turn, but you must know how much and practicing at altitude is a great idea.
Takeoff Safety Briefing:
Do NOT use the following emergency maneuver unless it was taught to you and you have practiced it to proficiency:
If you have high enough altitude under current conditions for you particular aircraft:
Note: By “pulling the aircrafts’ nose around to land” I mean that you should make certain it is a coordinated pull (Slip/Skid Ball centered) and that you don’t stall the aircraft. A positive, somewhat aggressive pull is necessary to ensure the aircraft is turned enough to land in the opposite direction.
Take the time to cover emergency procedures with your flying pal so they know where in the POH (normally chapter 3 in modern POHs) certain emergencies are located. For example, what would you want them to do in the case of an engine failure at altitude? By “At altitude” I mean you have time to perform the emergency procedures to include a restart attempt. You could have them:
How about smoke & fumes in the cockpit? Do they know to close the vents first?
If aborting a takeoff, you could teach them to say (Cessna 12345) aborting runway (29) which will allow you to “Maintain Aircraft Control” while alerting the tower or, if at an uncontrolled filed, other pilots in the pattern that you may have to stop on the runway.
Crew coordination is what you make it. Some of your flying buddies may not be capable of handling too much. Teach them things to do on each flight that will help you, such as how to change radio frequencies, transponder codes and hitting the ident button on the transponder, or other tasks that may be of help to you.
Instrument approaches are high stress and consuming tasks. Teach your buddy to watch altitudes and call them off as you descend to include calling out the MDA or DA so you can concentrate on flying the approach. With that said you are still responsible for taking the proper action at these altitudes and must watch the altimeter as well. Or, you could teach them to watch for ground contact, i.e., when they see the ground and that they should say “stay inside” if they don’t see the runway environment. “Stay inside” means that you should continue to fly by the instruments until the runway environment is positively identified.
Of course, you must use discretion when asking your buddy to make these calls and remember, as Pilot In Command, you are still responsible for performing these tasks. Think of your buddy as a back up. Their calls should not be done using their “outside voice”. Teach them to use a voice loud enough to be heard, yet in a calm, but easily identifiable level.
Friends you fly with usually like being involved and they will often gain confidence and have less stress if they are involved. There will be less chance of manifestation of apprehension (fear of the unknown) if they are aware of what is going on. It also adds to their excitement and appreciation of what it takes to be a pilot.
One more thing, some flying buddies may not want to fly if they learn of the possible emergencies. But, remember that it is still your obligation as required by regulations to, at the very least, brief them on those items found in FAR 91.519 which states:
Sec. 91.519 — Passenger briefing.
(a) Before each takeoff the pilot in command of an airplane carrying passengers shall ensure that all passengers have been orally briefed on—
(1) Smoking. Each passenger shall be briefed on when, where, and under what conditions smoking is prohibited. This briefing shall include a statement, as appropriate, that the Federal Aviation Regulations require passenger compliance with lighted passenger information signs and no smoking placards, prohibit smoking in lavatories, and require compliance with crewmember instructions with regard to these items;
(2) Use of safety belts and shoulder harnesses. Each passenger shall be briefed on when, where, and under what conditions it is necessary to have his or her safety belt and, if installed, his or her shoulder harness fastened about him or her. This briefing shall include a statement, as appropriate, that Federal Aviation Regulations require passenger compliance with the lighted passenger sign and/or crewmember instructions with regard to these items;
(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.
(b) The oral briefing required by paragraph (a) of this section shall be given by the pilot in command or a member of the crew, but need not be given when the pilot in command determines that the passengers are familiar with the contents of the briefing. It may be supplemented by printed cards for the use of each passenger containing—
(1) A diagram of, and methods of operating, the emergency exits; and
(2) Other instructions necessary for use of emergency equipment.
(c) Each card used under paragraph (b) must be carried in convenient locations on the airplane for the use of each passenger and must contain information that is pertinent only to the type and model airplane on which it is used.
(d) For operations under subpart K of this part, the passenger briefing requirements of §91.1035 apply, instead of the requirements of paragraphs (a) through (c) of this section.
[Doc. No. 18334, 54 FR 34314, Aug. 18, 1989, as amended by Amdt. 91–231, 57 FR 42672, Sept. 15, 1992; Amdt. 91–280, 68 FR 54561, Sept. 17, 2003]
As always; Fly safe and enjoy.