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Would you allow a passenger to 'have a go' on the controls?

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Would you allow a passenger to 'have a go' on the controls?

Old 22nd Feb 2020, 10:09
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Would you allow a passenger to 'have a go' on the controls?

This post is deliberately vague to disidentify the event in question since it's not really pertinent to the main point. I had no involvement.

Following the accident, in which nobody was injured, the loss adjuster (LA) interviewed the pilot (not an instructor) and passenger from the single engine light aeroplane. By all accounts the LA was a friendly outgoing chap and chatted to quite a few other people before leaving. The LA determined from 'loose tongues' that the passenger (a qualified pilot but not listed as a pilot on the syndicate’s insurance policy) had, for at least part of the flight, handled the controls. Consequently the insurer voided the policy leaving the pilot liable for life-changing amounts of money to her/his syndicate partners and others.

Have you ever allowed a passenger, qualified or otherwise, to handle the controls on an SEP whilst you are PIC? If so would you do it again?
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Old 22nd Feb 2020, 10:36
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Frequently.

Interesting story though - do you know if there was any link between the uninsured pilot's actions and the accident?

I would like to think that, if not, the insurer's refusal to pay out could be challenged...?
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Old 22nd Feb 2020, 10:41
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Yes and yes. One can of course always misjudge - but someone I'd not trust to temporarily take the stick would not be a welcome guest at all.

Last edited by Jan Olieslagers; 22nd Feb 2020 at 13:17.
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Old 22nd Feb 2020, 12:02
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I sometimes allowed passengers to take the controls when it was safe to do so, until a women with limited English took the controls after I briefed her by saying " Do not touch the controls". She must have thought I was saying "touch the controls". Lucky in this instance we were still on the ground. After this I was much more discerning.
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Old 22nd Feb 2020, 15:13
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I really don't think this is anything to do with a passenger being allowed to touch the controls; it is about a pilot who is not on the insurance being allowed to fly a syndicate aircraft for which he was not insured. A bit like letting someone drive your car without being insured. The outcome is fairly obvious. No doubt there was intent prior to departure.
Allowing someone to operate the controls does not make them a pilot, they remain a passenger, any instruction given to them by a non instructor means they are not even a student pilot. Two factors need to be considered here; the pilot remains responsible for the safe operation of the aircraft and must not let the passenger do anything that might place that in doubt. If something happened that occasioned the requirement for insurance, did it have anything to do with the passenger touching the controls, if so then you have overstepped the mark and if not how would anyone ever know? I have seen passengers hang onto the control column when trying to adjust their seat, I believe there was a PA28 accident a few years ago involving exactly that. In any event this should have been included in the passenger brief.
Letting a passenger handle the controls is not the same as leting another pilot fly the aircraft. The latter is a much more risky business especially for the inexperienced and in particular when only named pilots are covered by the insurance.
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Old 22nd Feb 2020, 15:53
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A bit like letting someone drive your car without being insured.
To my mind, if the accident occurs during this period, then insurance won't pay out. If, though, the accident occurs afterwards (with insured in control), then surely insurance should cover.

Or it's not that simple?
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Old 22nd Feb 2020, 16:20
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Pretty much every pilot I know has allowed passengers to "have a go" in a light aircraft, but it never detracts from the commander's responsibility for the safety of the aeroplane.

I suspect that the disidentified incident may be a bit more complex than being relayed. For example, was it a landing accident where the passenger was handling? Or was there a specific clause in syndicate rules?

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Old 22nd Feb 2020, 20:55
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PIC means Pilot-In-Command, not Pilot-In-Control. It's perfectly fine to let a passenger have a go at the controls, as long as the PIC remains in command.

I volunteer for a Dutch charity where we do almost 1000 flights with chronically ill and handicapped children annually, with the express goal of letting the kids feel they're pilot for a day. Including letting them have a go at the controls. Obviously the PIC does the take-off, climb and establishes (trims) the aircraft for the cruise. But the kid can then fly the rest of the flight under the guidance (control) of the PIC. Until the time comes to start the descent for landing. That's when the PIC takes over the controls again. This is well known inside the Netherlands to both the authorities and the insurance companies. No problem whatsoever.
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Old 22nd Feb 2020, 21:51
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Originally Posted by Jim59 View Post
This post is deliberately vague to disidentify the event in question since it's not really pertinent to the main point. I had no involvement.

Following the accident, in which nobody was injured, the loss adjuster (LA) interviewed the pilot (not an instructor) and passenger from the single engine light aeroplane. By all accounts the LA was a friendly outgoing chap and chatted to quite a few other people before leaving. The LA determined from 'loose tongues' that the passenger (a qualified pilot but not listed as a pilot on the syndicate’s insurance policy) had, for at least part of the flight, handled the controls. Consequently the insurer voided the policy leaving the pilot liable for life-changing amounts of money to her/his syndicate partners and others.

Have you ever allowed a passenger, qualified or otherwise, to handle the controls on an SEP whilst you are PIC? If so would you do it again?
No, because first I've rarely had the opportunity, second my passengers had no real desire to do so and third, my rental agreements IIRC all specifically prohibited this. Now, as for the legal issues others are referring to, just get it through you heads that if there is a major insurance claim at hand, your insurance agent, adjuster and company are no longer your friends and you are no longer their customer--you are the enemy. Anything over a few 100K and they will go into full combat mode to avoid paying you. Lawyer up immediately!
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Old 23rd Feb 2020, 00:40
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I will happily let a passenger fly in non critical phases of flight. If the passenger flying the plane actually creates a hazard, which even remotely causes an accident/insurance claim, the pilot really missed something!

My heart was warmed many years back, as every year I would take my plane to the fly in corn roast. I would take every kid who wanted to go, flying, and let them fly. Sometimes it was thirty kids, I'd be at it all afternoon, to dusk. Then one year a charming young lady presented herself, and as I took her, she explained that I had taken her years earlier, and she liked it so much, that she joined air cadets, and earned both her glider and powered license, and had joined the armed forces, and was in advanced pilot training. I'd started a pilot on her path!

So, yes, I'll let people fly, particularly kids, to inspire them....
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Old 23rd Feb 2020, 02:28
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A heart warming story DAR, that is exactly the sort of thing that encourages youth, it used to be a cockpit visit on an airliner set the thirst, but no longer alas. In my case is was the dining at our house of the company pilots over many, many years, and allowing a spotty teenager to fly the company F-27 from the left seat in the cruise and indulge in a few turns.
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Old 23rd Feb 2020, 06:57
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I was 9 or 10 years old when I handled the controls of a Tri Pacer at Denham.

That wonderful man has cost me thousands and I don't begrudge a penny and am still willingly 'wasting' my money and will do as long as my mind and body permits

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Old 23rd Feb 2020, 09:53
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When you were qualified to fly cadets for air experience at Air Cadet gliding schools, you were permitted to allow the cadet to handle the controls only above 500ft agl.
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Old 23rd Feb 2020, 12:27
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Looking at my own aviation policy it clearly states that cover is suspended “whilst the aircraft is being piloted by any person other than as stated in the schedule” with an exception for ground operations by a competent person. It does not have cover for instructional use.

To me this means that if anybody not listed in the schedule either specifically or as a class of persons entitled to cover under the policy is piloting the aircraft (i.e. handling the controls in flight) then the aircraft is uninsured at that time. I don’t think that the argument that the person piloting the aircraft is not the PIC will wash. Since it is a legal requirement to have third party cover when the aircraft is being flown then that portion of the flight is illegal. This seems to imply that under my policy if I, as PIC, allow someone other than a syndicate partner to handle the controls in flight I’m both uninsured and illegal as long as that situation continues.

As always, it does not matter too much until something goes wrong!

No doubt some will argue that handling the controls is not the same as piloting the aircraft if an PIC listed in the policy schedule is in a pilots seat. The question is whether the insurance company will agree when a claim is made.
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Old 23rd Feb 2020, 13:01
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So on that argument, is the autopilot included in the insurance policy? Provided the insured pilot was occupying one of the front seats and the aircraft had dual controls then I do not see that it is an issue.
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Old 23rd Feb 2020, 13:15
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So on that argument, is the autopilot included in the insurance policy?
If you call it George then maybe you need to add it.

I do not see that it is an issue.
It's not whether you think it is an issue - it whether your insurers do. In the case cited they thought it to be an issue and voided the policy.
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Old 23rd Feb 2020, 15:07
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https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/wor...ess-class.html
They were only forced to return 40 minutes later when the attendants accidentally switched off the plane's auto-pilot switch, according to the claims.
Now that was their mistake! Look, don't touch!
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Old 23rd Feb 2020, 16:25
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then the aircraft is uninsured at that time.
And if you're safely up there, is that a real problem? I would be very surprised to hear that an insurance company objected to a passenger flying when there was no risk whatever of a claim. It's up to the pilot to assure that they are in control of the plane during phases of flight which do create risk. That said, some pilots might be comfortable to within 500 feet of the surface, and some to 50 feet. That's a pilot decision, the insurer does not need to be involved - unless the pilot makes a poor decision....
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Old 23rd Feb 2020, 16:28
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If the pilot flying had no bearing on the incident I think that the Insurers should be named and shamed. More info is required. I have a share in a light aircraft and if this is a loss adjuster trying to get the insurance company out of making a payment I would like to know who it is as I would certainly move my business somewhere else if true.
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Old 23rd Feb 2020, 18:08
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As always, there is no simple answer.
If a flight instructor or a very experienced pilot let someone have „a go“ at the controls of a light airplane, at altitude and in non critical situations, I‘d see no problem.
That‘s how aviation careers get started, (Guess how I know ...)

The problems come if the PIC loses situational awareness or gets task saturated while watching and supervising. A typical scenario would be the freshly minted, still very green private pilot, taking up his friends for a ride, being eager to show off. Definitely a situation I would take issue with if such PIC would let someone else „have a go“, and most likely the reason why it is forbidden by today’s regulations.
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