The passenger brief – More than lip-service

A good pilot spends a great deal of time on pre-flight briefings for themselves. Weather, NOTAMs, ERSA… we study plenty of information to ensure we are prepared for the flight ahead. But… how many of us make a similar effort to ensure our passengers are prepared as well?

It is common for us to gloss over the passenger briefing. We want our passengers to be looking forward to the flight ahead not be constantly wary of something going wrong. However, experience has shown that an effective briefing can assure your passengers that you are prepared for something going wrong, giving them confidence in your abilities and helping them enjoy the flight. An effective briefing that engages your passengers also helps them in the event that something does go awry, they will be able to recall what to do.

CASA has provided guidance on the items that should be covered in a passenger briefing on a light aircraft. More than just how the seatbelts and doors operate, we should also be aiming to include brace positions and other items that we may not have time to say for example in an engine failure after takeoff scenario. You’ll have your hands full with the aircraft. So the 30 seconds you spent earlier explaining the brace position and evacuating the aircraft will pay big dividends later.

Airlines follow a similar logic, if they need to evacuate after a rejected takeoff they will have no time to explain to all the passengers how to get off the aircraft. We are doing a similar thing, but because we don’t have additional crew members to help us we should be a little more thorough. Some items to think about mentioning:

  • The need to avoid the front of the aircraft, engine and propeller if they need to evacuate.
  • The location of emergency equipment like the fire extinguisher and EPIRB/PLB.
  • How the radio PTT works. ATC have talked down a number of non-pilots over the years!
  • The need to avoid distracting you when you are near the airport, or when people are talking on the radio.
  • Try to engage your passengers in a discussion rather than a briefing ‘at’ them. Think of airline safety briefings, most people tune out if they think it’s just more of the same old. Levity is fine as long as the briefing hits the required points and it will probably aid recall in an emergency.

Guidance from CASA on suggested things to be covered (along with a mnemonic “SAFETY”) is in the link below. As always any feedback is welcome to flightops@pointcook.org.

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