10
$\begingroup$

This question came up as a followon to another answer.

14 CFR 91.109 reads in part, with added emphasis:

§91.109 Flight instruction; Simulated instrument flight and certain flight tests.

(c) No person may operate a civil aircraft in simulated instrument flight unless—

    (1) The other control seat is occupied by a safety pilot who possesses at least a private pilot certificate with category and class ratings appropriate to the aircraft being flown.

    (2) The safety pilot has adequate vision forward and to each side of the aircraft, or a competent observer in the aircraft adequately supplements the vision of the safety pilot …

Is the “competent observer” a passenger or a required crewmember?

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think the "competent observer" is a required crewmember if the safety pilot does not have adequate vision to supplement the pilot. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Apr 6 '16 at 17:54
6
$\begingroup$

Yes, the "competent observer" is a required crewmember in that situation, by definition.

According to 14 CFR 1.1:

Crewmember means a person assigned to perform duty in an aircraft during flight time.

Clearly, a "competent observer" operating as such under §91.109 (c)(2) is a person assigned to perform a duty in an aircraft during flight time; such an observer is therefore a crewmember. The operator is required to operate the aircraft with that observer performing their observation duties, and that person is therefore a required crewmember.

There are no other requirements as to who this person may or may not be other than the qualifying term "competent". The aircraft operator bears the burden of determining the observer's competency. One might argue that a certified pilot would be a competent observer.

An implied question here might be, is this competent observer a required crewmember that is able to log time for the performance of their duties? To this I would say, no, there is no provision in 14 CFR 61 for the logging of flight time for a person designated as an "observer", competent or otherwise.

EDIT to further explain the above paragraph in consideration of discussion in the comments: 14 CFR 61.51 allows pilots to log PIC and SIC time for flight in, among other conditions, "aircraft for which more than one pilot is required under the [...] regulations under which the flight is conducted". The "qualified observer" is indeed required in the situation in question, but need not be a pilot, and—unless otherwise qualified—is not acting as one of the required pilots in an "aircraft for which more than one pilot is required under the [...] regulations under which the flight is conducted". Obviously, if the person fulfilling the duties of a "competent observer" is otherwise also a required pilot, then the pilot may log the flight time as the required pilot.

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ I can't agree on the logic that a competent observer is a crewmember who cannot log the time. Either the "competent observer" is a (required) crewmember who can log the time, or the "competent observer" is a passenger. The requirement for logging the time is "required crewmenber", and doesn't need to be any further distinguished in the CFRs, which is why you don't find a specific provision for the "safety pilot" to log time in the regs. $\endgroup$ – rbp Apr 7 '16 at 13:54
  • $\begingroup$ @rbp I suppose anyone can log any time they want in a logbook, but I stand by my assertion that there is no provision in 14 CFR 61 for logging of flight time for an observer. §1.1 defines Flight Time as "Pilot time...", for which definition I would argue an observer does not qualify. There is a difference between "crewmember" and "pilot". I don't know where "required crewmember" is the requirement for logging flight time, but I would be interested in seeing it. $\endgroup$ – J Walters Apr 8 '16 at 2:21
  • $\begingroup$ If you are a required crew member, then you get to log the time: 14 CFR 61.51(e)(iii) "When the pilot ... acts as pilot in command of an aircraft for which more than one pilot is required under the type certification of the aircraft or the regulations under which the flight is conducted" and a similar 'graph for SIC time. $\endgroup$ – rbp Apr 8 '16 at 15:00
  • $\begingroup$ @rbp That's for pilots, not crewmembers. Crewmembers need not be pilots. Required pilots do indeed get to log flight time as you describe. As you see in §1.1, a crewmember is a person, not necessarily a pilot. Even if the observer happens to be a pilot, that role is not required to be filled by a pilot and therefore does not meet the "more than one pilot is required" criteria. See this question for further clarification (or ambiguity!) on the crewmember definition. $\endgroup$ – J Walters Apr 8 '16 at 16:37
1
$\begingroup$

No, it does not need to be a crew member.

If the safety pilot has adequate vision forward and to each side, then no one else is required. Only in a case when there is some hinderance or obstacle in the field of view for the safety pilot, and a competent observer's view is not hindered by that obstacle, then they can be used.

A competent observer is only an observer who is competent in observing. Logically, a crew member is always the first and preferred choice than curious or grumpy passengers. I did not find any details on the qualifications of a competent observer in the CFR.

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.