Before each flight, the FAA requires the pilot in command of any aircraft to give a passenger safety briefing and inform the passengers of critical safety items and information prior to take off. Pilots of small aircraft are mandated by FAA regulation 14 CFR 91.107 to inform passengers of how to properly operate their seat belt, including how to latch and unlatch them, and the appropriate times to use the seat belt. Pilots of large or turbine-powered multi-engine aircraft must carry out a far more detailed brief in accordance with FAA 14 CFR 91.519 regulations. An easy way to remember the steps of this briefing is with the acronym SAFETY. This blog will explain each part of the SAFETY briefing and its details.
The ‘S’ is for seats, seat belts, and smoking. Per FAA regulations, an aircraft cannot take off until all passengers have been informed of how to latch and unlatch the seat belt and, when applicable, the shoulder harness. Passengers must also be briefed on when they must wear their seat belts, such as during taxi, take off, and landing. Additionally, passengers should be briefed on smoking, or lack thereof, on aircraft. Smoking, including the use of e-cigarettes, is banned on all commercial and most non-commercial flights.
The second letter of the acronym, ‘A,’ stands for air vents. An important part of the aircraft safety briefing includes instructing passengers how to operate the controls for air conditioning, outside air, and heat. Ventilation is an important aspect of passenger comfort, and will also help passengers who are dealing with airsickness. The air safety briefing should include information regarding the location of airsickness bags should passengers need them.
The ‘F’ in SAFETY stands for fire extinguisher. Awareness of the nearest fire extinguisher is critical, particularly if it is located next to a specific passenger. Passengers should not only be aware of the fire extinguisher’s location, but also understand how to operate it in case of emergency. Furthermore, passengers should be alerted of what to do in the event of a fire and how they should react. ‘E’ refers to exits, emergencies, and equipment. The location of emergency exit doors and evacuation procedures are perhaps the most important part of any safety briefing. On larger aircraft where there is more than one door, passengers should be instructed on which exit to use.
The ‘T’ stands for traffic and talking. This might come as a surprise, but passengers can be an incredibly useful tool in looking for air traffic. On smaller aircraft, their extra eyes and ears can spot things the pilot might not, so instruct them to speak up if they notice anything out of the ordinary. Additionally, passengers should know when the pilot's duties cannot be interrupted, such as during taxi, takeoff, approach, landing, and any time when the pilot is in radio contact with air traffic control. A general rule of thumb is to inform passengers that they should not distract crew members when flying below 10,000 feet.
Lastly, ‘Y’ stands for your questions. It is always a good idea to end a safety briefing with an opportunity for passengers to ask questions. This will provide passengers with the peace of mind knowing their concerns have been addressed. Ultimately, it is the pilot’s duty to ensure each passenger is safe and comfortable during flight.
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