A good pilot is always learning -- how many times have you heard
this old standard throughout your flying career? There is no truer
statement in all of flying (well, with the possible exception of
"there are no old, bold pilots.") It's part of what makes aviation
so exciting for all of us... just when you think you've seen it
all, along comes a scenario you've never imagined.
Aero-News has called upon the expertise of Thomas P. Turner,
master CFI and all-around-good-guy, to bring our readers -- and us
-- daily tips to improve our skills as aviators, and as
representatives of the flying community. Some of them, you may have
heard before... but for each of us, there will also be something we
might never have considered before, or something that didn't
"stick" the way it should have the first time we memorized it for
the practical test.
It is our unabashed goal that "Aero-Tips" will help our readers
become better, safer pilots -- as well as introducing our
ground-bound readers to the concepts and principles that keep those
strange aluminum-and-composite contraptions in the air... and allow
them to soar magnificently through it.
Look for our daily Aero-Tips segments, coming each day to you
through the Aero-News Network. Suggestions for future Aero-Tips are
always welcome, as are additions or discussion of each day's tips.
Remember... when it comes to being better pilots, we're all in this
It's amazing anybody
goes without seat belts, but the question of when they are required
on airplanes comes up often enough that it's time for a review of
the regulation. FAR 91.107 tells us "the
word". Here's what it has to say, with emphasis and commentary
91.107 Use of safety
belts, shoulder harnesses, and child restraint systems.
(a) Unless otherwise
authorized by the Administrator --
Comment: If you for some reason convince the
FAA to provide you a waiver to 91.107, this rule does not
(1) No pilot may
take off …(except a free balloon that incorporates a basket
or gondola, or an airship type certificated before November 2,
1987) unless the pilot in command... ensures that each person on
board is briefed on how to fasten and unfasten safety belt[s] and,
if installed, shoulder harness.
Comment: To paraphrase a common Southwest
Airlines quip, if passengers have not been in a car in the last 40
years and can't figure it out themselves, you need to tell them how
to use the seat belts.
(2) No pilot may
cause to be moved on the surface, take off, or land... unless the
pilot in command... ensures that each person on board has been
notified to fasten his or her safety belt and, if installed, his or
her shoulder harness.
Comment: Not only do you have to tell them how
to fasten belts and shoulder harnesses, but you have to tell them
to fasten them before you can move the airplane. If shoulder
harnesses are installed, they are required to be used.
(3) ...each person
on board... [an]... aircraft... must occupy an approved seat or
berth with a safety belt and, if installed, shoulder harness,
properly secured about him or her during movement on the surface,
takeoff, and landing.
Comment: In addition to telling them how and
when to use seat belts and shoulder harnesses, the pilot-in-command
must ensure they do so for taxi, takeoff and landing. Passengers
are not required to wear seat belts or shoulder harnesses during
climb, cruise or descent...although wearing them at all times is a
(4) ...a person may
be held by an adult who is occupying an approved seat or berth,
provided that the person being held has not reached his or her
second birthday and does not occupy or use any restraining device.
[A child may] occupy an approved child restraint system... provided
that the child is accompanied by a parent, guardian, or attendant
designated by the child's parent or guardian to attend to the
safety of the child during the flight.
There are a few other details in 91.107, but understand this:
aircraft accident investigators have told me repeatedly that seat
belts and especially shoulder harnesses save lives if an airplane
makes a hard or off-airport landing... and conversely, that lack of
shoulder harness use (especially by front-seat occupants) very
often turns a "minor injury" mishap into a fatal wreck.
Aero-tip of the day: Understand the required
use of seat belts and shoulder harnesses -- and follow the "best
practice" of wearing them during all phases of flight..