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A Pilot's Airhostess debriefing

Updated: Oct 8, 2020

Get your head out the gutter! We are talking SAFETY here!

Yes, I do agree with you, the heading should read "briefing" and not "de-briefing" since this will be about what you tell your passengers BEFORE your flight, and not after it, but experience has shown me most pilots tend to have personalities a little on the naughty, fun, adventurous side, I thought de-briefing might catch your eye faster. Was I right? ;P

The fact is, that whenever you are carrying one or more passenger, it is your responsibility as the pilot to make sure your pax know what to do should anything go wrong. You should give your pax this briefing EVERY TIME they fly with you, or at least until they roll their eyes and recite your briefing back to to word perfect - then you are sure they know what's expected of them should the worst happen.

Of course, we all plan for the best, and do our checks and regular maintenance and check the weather so that we do not end up in a situation that will require superior piloting skills, but sometimes shit just happens. As pilots, we need to be pre-programmed to react without thinking, and should be able to perform any of the critical flying skills at will, and automatically, while carrying out emergency actions like we do them every day.

You practice emergencies regularly right? You can even do this while sitting on the loo, taking a shower, before sleeping, or even by physically practicing this.

Action Movies teach us that when an engine cuts out, everyone screams as the airplane picks up speed and races towards the ground. You and I know better, your pax might not. So before your Flight Test, and before you load your pax on board, before you start up, (its more cost-effective this way), tell your pax what to do should an emergency arise, and how they can get out of the aircraft.

My pre-flight briefing is usually casual and conversational and goes something like this:

"This is our aircraft. Please take a look at the tyres. They are quite small, see? They are designed to land on nice smooth hard surfaces, and are not designed for 4X4 travel."

"It is very unlikely that anything will go wrong, because this aircraft is well maintained." (sometimes I explain 100 hr MPI's, oil changes, ADs and SBs)

"If something does go wrong and we lose our engine, this aircraft glides very well. We won't accelerate towards the ground like in action movies, we will glide down like a normal landing, the only problem is we can't glide very far without power, so if we have to land in a field, these little tyres will slew around a thick tuft of grass, small bush or rock, or stop suddenly in a shallow hole, so the stopping can be quite sudden.

"If we have an emergency, I want you to:...."

now tell your pax what they must do,

  • how and where they can brace themselves and or tighten their shoulder strap, I always ask folks to remain strapped in.

  • If you want them to open the door or canopy just before touchdown to prevent being locked in the cockpit if things bend, show them how to open and close the door/canopy,

  • how to move their seat, and how to adjust their seatbelt.

  • You can instruct them on when they can speak and have a hand signal for them to stop talking if you need to listen to ATC.

  • You can show them how to activate the emergency frequency on the radio.

  • Anything else relevant to your aircraft.

  • Show them how to use the air vents too please!

That's it. Just let your pax know the essentials, then have a fabulous safe flight and spectacularly smooth landing, no pressure ;P

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