I was comfortable flying from the right seat in my Grumman American AA5A and would let non-pilots sit in the left seat to introduce them to flying. I was expecting to do the same in a friend's TB9, but this text gave me pause.

Given the the Socata TB9 (Tampico) is generally considered a primary trainer I was surprised to find the following in section 2 (Limitations) of the Pilot Information Manual

CREW LIMITATIONS Minimum crew: 1 pilot (1 pilot required at L.H. station)

I am confused how to interpret this.

  1. How is it legal for a CFI to train a "non pilot"?
  2. Does it mean that as long as there is a body in the left seat anyone can fly it (from the right seat?)
  3. What does "pilot" mean in this case in the Pilot Manual? Is "Student pilot" defined only when there is a CFI in the right seat?

I have seen placards on tandem airplanes that allow "solo flight" from one of the two positions for what I expect are CG limitations - but am baffled by the perceived limitation in this manual as-written.


1 Answer 1


Most airplanes are designed for the pilot to be in the left hand position, so some have controls on the left side that are inaccessible (or very hard to reach) in the right hand position, like parking brakes, fuel tank selectors, nosewheel tillers (on big jets), sometimes the key is hard to reach. On the TB9 the circuit breaker panel is by the LH pilot's leg, it would be extremely challenging for someone in the RH seat to reach those, and they could be important if one blows in flight or there's a fire.

The important things is that the person in the left seat is capable of and has been briefed on how to operate any controls required during the flight.

Personally I don't see why you need to let people sit in the left seat to give them a taste of flying, the right seat is just as good for that and it is less risky.

  • $\begingroup$ I can see why you might want to fly most Pipers, Beechcraft, and Mooneys from the right seat since they only have one door. But the TB series all have two doors so it doesn’t make a lot of sense unless you are training for your CFI. $\endgroup$
    – JScarry
    Nov 6, 2018 at 3:23
  • $\begingroup$ They only have one door but that's not a good reason to sit on the right @JScarry. The left seater has no problem reaching the levers to open the door, and in an emergency scrambling out on your hands and knees from the left seat, while undignified, gets you out as quick as having to get your feet under you on the right. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Nov 6, 2018 at 9:44

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