Making My Own Passenger Briefing Cards

One of the best parts about getting your pilot’s license is taking friends out and sharing the experience of flight. And when passengers are involved there are a whole new set of requirements that you need to satisfy as Pilot In Command. One of those is a safety briefing, and just like at the major airlines I find it easier and safer to do it through a pre-printed card.

Passenger safety briefings can be awkward. There’s a lot of information to cover, and coming up with a good spiel can be hard especially for those who don’t have such a silver tongue. I found that I needed a whole new checklist just to make sure I covered the required items. I wanted to find a better way, preferably something that I could hand my passengers and have them read while I was finishing the pre-flight checks.

Another consideration was how to ensure that vital information would be available if I were to become incapacitated. I’ve heard stories of passengers landing airplanes after the pilot became incapacitated, and I wanted to make sure that my passengers had all the information available for reference should that situation ever happen.

But can I legally substitute a written pre flight briefing for a verbal one? And what exactly is required to satisfy a passenger safety briefing? Back to the FARs, specifically 14 CFR 91.519:

(a) Before each takeoff the pilot in command of an airplane carrying passengers shall ensure that all passengers have been orally briefed on –
(1)Smoking. Each passenger shall be briefed on when, where, and under what conditions smoking is prohibited. This briefing shall include a statement, as appropriate, that the Federal Aviation Regulations require passenger compliance with lighted passenger information signs and no smoking placards, prohibit smoking in lavatories, and require compliance with crewmember instructions with regard to these items;
(2)Use of safety belts and shoulder harnesses. Each passenger shall be briefed on when, where, and under what conditions it is necessary to have his or her safety belt and, if installed, his or her shoulder harness fastened about him or her. This briefing shall include a statement, as appropriate, that Federal Aviation Regulations require passenger compliance with the lighted passenger sign and/or crewmember instructions with regard to these items;
(3) Location and means for opening the passenger entry door and emergency exits;
(4) Location of survival equipment;
(5) Ditching procedures and the use of flotation equipment required under § 91.509 for a flight over water; and
(6) The normal and emergency use of oxygen equipment installed on the airplane.

(b) The oral briefing required by paragraph (a) of this section shall be given by the pilot in command or a member of the crew, but need not be given when the pilot in command determines that the passengers are familiar with the contents of the briefing. It may be supplemented by printed cards for the use of each passenger containing –
(1) A diagram of, and methods of operating, the emergency exits; and
(2) Other instructions necessary for use of emergency equipment.
(c) Each card used under paragraph (b) must be carried in convenient locations on the airplane for the use of each passenger and must contain information that is pertinent only to the type and model airplane on which it is used.

OK, cool. So according to the FARs I am legally able to substitute a written safety briefing provided that it covers smoking, seatbelts, emergency exits, survival equipment, ditching procedures, and use of oxygen equipment. And since I don’t have oxygen equipment I don’t need to include that part.

The catch here is that each card must be specifically written for the aircraft on which it is used. So that means I would need to write one card for each type of aircraft I rent these days. Which, since there are only two, that’s not too bad.

In making my own cards I found a design I liked online and created a template from that form. From there I updated the card to reflect my specific aircraft, printed it on a single sheet of paper, folded it in half, and had the sheet laminated.

For those who want to download the form and make their own feel free to grab it from here:

I’ve found that these make the briefing process much faster and more efficient, and provide my s with a physical document to reference should something happen to me in the air. Especially with the section about what to do if I become incapacitated, because I know for a fact that they weren’t paying attention and will need a physical reference if that ever happens.

Nick Leghorn

Nick Leghorn is an instrument rated private pilot (ASEL), writer, and general techy nerd living in Austin, Texas.

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