What kinds of stuff should I think about in terms of taking other passengers flying in a small airplane? Many potential passengers have never been in a small airplane.
I go through the SAFETY checklist with all my passengers. The FAA recommends this as well.
- Seat Belts - This is where they are and how to use them.
- Air Vents - Here are the air vents and how to use them
- Fire - In case of a fire here is the location of the fire extinguisher and this is how you use it. PASS method.
- Exits, Emergencies and Equipment - Here are the exits on the airplane and here is how to open the door. Know that you are in good hands and that I have been well trained to land safely under most situations. If for some reason an emergency occurs in flight follow my directions. If we need to land off the airport, I will ask you to pop open the door just before landing to ensure we can exit the airplane safely. Here is any safety equipment that you may want to use on this flight. i.e. supplemental oxygen.
- Traffic and talking - Please point out an traffic that you see and I will do the same. Please no talking while I am on the radio. Once we start taxiing to the runway please remain quiet til we are far enough away from the airport. I will let you know when it is safe to talk again. When we come in to land, I will ask that you remain quiet, unless an emergency situation occurs, till after the landing is complete and we are taxiing back to parking.
- Your questions - Do you have any questions? Alright, lets go have some fun!
Seat belts—Operation of seat belts is the only FAA-required briefing item. Airplane seat belts can be complicated, even for other pilots. Make sure everyone knows how to fasten and unfasten, and when the lap and shoulder portions should be worn.
Doors—Car makers have generally figured out how to standardize door handles. Not so with airplanes. Demonstrate how to open and close the door, the location of all the exits, and how to kick out the windows if the doors won’t open after an accident. Also, be sure to mention if one of your doors has a habit of opening in flight.
Fire suppression—Point out the fire extinguisher and explain how to use it. Your rental airplane doesn’t have one? Buy one and keep it in your flight bag.
Dress—Airplanes are a foreign environment. Give guidance on how to dress, both for the flight itself and in the event of an off-airport landing (boots, coats, hats, gloves, sunscreen, et cetera).
Signaling devices—A tutorial on how to tune and transmit on 121.5 MHz is helpful, as is a discussion of how to use a personal locator beacon, the emergency locator transmitter, and any survival devices.
Creature comforts—Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday one of your passengers will get sick. Carry bags and point out where they are and how to use them. Also explain the location of the vents, heat, and sunshades.
Talk time—A strict sterile cockpit may not be necessary at all times below 5,000 feet, but mentioning when it’s OK to talk and when it’s not is a good practice. So is pointing out what a passenger can touch and what he or she absolutely should not (we’re looking at you, ejection handle).
I'd add to that list to not hold back when something needs pointing out, like another plane's lights.
And as Ron Beyer pointed out, to explain to the front seated passenger to keep their feet off the rudder pedals.
We were required to give what amounted to an "airline" briefing before each flight. We were also required to have those stupid little briefing cards for each passenger (of which at least one was stolen on each flight). Our Cessna 210, oddly enough, seemed to have the most popular cards! We couldn't make enough of them. Maybe people just think it's silly that a "little Cessna Piper Cub" has a briefing card just like a "real" plane.
I quit flying professionally in 2013 but continue to use 135.117 as my standard briefing.
•these are the seatbelts, this is how they work.
•these are the exits, this is how they work.
•these are oxygen masks, this is how they work.
•your seats recline but please leave your seatbacks in the upright position for takeoff and landing.
•the fire extinguisher is here, this is how it works.
•please don't smoke.
•there is a survival kit in the back of the plane...or in my flight bag...or both
•(front seat passenger) these are the controls, please keep from touching them.
•if you see another plane, let me know if the wings are on the top or the bottom and the number of engines you see (prevents passengers from reporting every single glint that may possibly be an airplane)
•if you have any questions, PLEASE ASK! If I things are busy and can't answer you immediately, I'll ignore you but circle back later.