But there are only six, two, or one out of this aircraft—depending on whether you are on a Southwest Airlines 737, a Cessna 182, or a Piper Cherokee. Everyone knows to brief passengers on a GA flight. It’s required by FAR 91.519 and requires, among other things, explanation regarding smoking, belts and shoulder harnesses, aforementioned doors and exits, survival gear, ditching procedures (if applicable), and oxygen equipment.
Many of us give this perfunctory attention, but maybe there’s good reason not to be so hasty. The fatal accident involving Senator Ted Stevens in Alaska likely resulted in additional loss of life because of several factors. The epirb beacon was apparently not well mounted, came loose, and became inoperable. Antennae are also sometimes broken in crashes leaving the equipment mute. Personal locator beacons (PLBs) or similar tracking devices are actually very good backups. The real kicker was that there was a fully functional satellite phone aboard that would have brought help much sooner had the passengers known where to look and how to operate it.
After the Stevens accident, the NTSB specifically asked the Air Safety Institute if we would raise awareness of after-crash actions and before departure briefings. With support from Jacie Ann Crowell, a major donor and a member of The Ninety Nines, that presentation and associated briefing card are now ready. This is essential viewing, and like the airline safety briefings that we’ve all ignored, don’t!
As an additional reminder, as we come into the cold weather, throw a good overcoat, some boots, and a hat into the aircraft, and perhaps a space blanket. It would be a pity to make the best forced landing of your life and not be able to tell the story because you succumbed to hypothermia!
A final thought—flying VFR, don’t forget the flight plan. It’s not something everyone does, and with good preparation and a little luck, you’ll never need it—sort of like life insurance!