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right seat flying

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just a member, not senior
Nov 26, 2001
In GA, can you fly in the right seat as pic . And if so, can a passenger sit in the left seat without the right seat pic being a CFI as long as instruction isn't being given?

i re-read what I posted and it didn't make sense. sorry, I think it's clearer now.
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One of my rules in life has been "If you can explain it to the accident board, it's OK."

How would you answer their question, "Why did you sit in the right seat with limited access to controls, guages, switches instead of the left?"

If you can answer that question (following a precautionary landing due to an electrical fire for instance), you should have no problem. I don't think I could.
Well, here is the real reason, so you tell me if you think it would fly:

Flying a piper (so only door is at the right door). I was going to fly a kid around the pattern (8 years old) and my reasoning is that if something does happen and we have to ditch, I would rather be on the door side to better be able to exit (with the kid)the aircraft in case of a door jam on inpact.

I know that's probably thinking too far ahead about something that could never happen, but it has come across my mind as to if thats a decision I can make as PIC as to the saftey of my passenger without getting busted on the ramp when they see an 8year old sitting in the left seat.
In the scenario you describe, I think it would be MUCH more likely to have a mishap caused by altered perspective (I presume you have not spent a lot of time operating an aircraft from the right seat) and reduced control access than by having egress affected by the 8-year old IF you were to have to evacuate.

I think you are legal to do it but I wouldn't put you down for high marks in judgement if you did.
The answer to your question is yes you can legally fly in the right seat as PIC. There is nothing in the regulations that say otherwise. Something to consider though is that insurance may not cover anything that were to happen while you were in the right seat if you are not a CFI. I know that this is the way it worked at the flight school where I used to fly.
Get checked out on the right side first. I agree with the previous poster. You just can't jump in the right seat and fly like you do in the left. The perspective is totally different - especially on landing.

I wouldn't try it by yourself either. Have a CFI in the left seat.

Good luck,
This depends on the aircraft. However, unless specifically limited to flight from the left seat for a particular make and model (or front/aft in the case of a tandem arrangement), you may fly from either seat.

Note that your pilot certificate doesn't restrict you to left seat operations.

You will find that some aircraft are restricted in terms of equipment or accessories on one side of the aircraft. Many piper twins, for example, don't have brakes on the right side. Some aircraft may utilize flight controls on one side only, by design or by alteration. Instrumentation may be difficult to read due to parralax (reading looks different when viewed from an angle), and some instrumentation may not be readable at all. Further, you may end up working different controls such as power, flaps, gear, etc, with a different hand that you are used to. This can lead to some level of confusion during rushed times; not good during a landing or go around.

As was indicated before, the view is a little different, but this is the least of your worries. It's a very easy transition, and while you can get someone to go with you, it isn't absolutely necessary. You may find that due to insurance requirements, getting someone to "check you out" for the right seat may be difficult when renting. (Some insurance policies will specify that the person in the left seat will be the PIC, and the insurance companies are often the final and bottom line, far beyond the limitations imposed by the FAA). With respect to getting checked out, each single seat airplane I've flown involved a checkout on the wing; I was given a cockpit familiarization before flying, but that was it. First flight is first solo in that airplane, period. So yes, you can do it alone...but consider your limitations, your experience, the airplane, the conditions, the insurance, the owner, and any other applicable factors before you do so.

Yes, it's legal. If your concern is being able to get out after a crash, vs. being able to fully handle the airplane comfortably and safely, examine those priorities once more before making this decision. Good luck!!
Correct me if I am wrong, doesn't the left window on the Pipers pop-out as an emergency exit? It has been a while since I have been in the Warrior or Seminiole I used to fly, but if my memory serves me correctly, the left window had a handle that basically totally removed the window for egress....

I agree completely with the other posters, make sure if you were to do this you get checked out in the right seat. I used to teach new CFI candidates and it usually took them a few hours in the right seat before they started to feel comfortable.... Their first few landings from the right seat were always "interesting" to say the least!

If I were in your shoes, I would stick the little fella in the right seat, take him up and show him the joys of flying (let him try "steering" too, if you are comfortable with that). Don't worry about an emergency egress, odds are if you do a good preflight, your machine is well maintained and you are a cautious pilot, it won't be an issue. I think if you are not 100% comfortable in the right seat, you are merely raising the chance of something going amiss due to your altered perspective from the right seat.

Fly Safe!

Falcon Capt.
I don't know about the switch and control positions on your particular aircraft, but as far as the regs are concerned, you can fly as pic from either seat. You can also act as pic from the front or rear seat in a tandem seat aircraft, and even act as pic from the cockpit jumpseat in certain 121 operations. (see 121.434). Which seat you occupy makes no difference as far as who is pic is concerned. Most helicopters have the pic in the right seat, and every aircraft is different. Hope this helps you.
I fly alot from the right seat since I am currently in training for my CFI. The only requirement for a non-pilot to sit in the left seat with me.....

In a P28A or P28R, I instruct them on the operation of the fuel selector. From the right seat the fuel selector is hard to reach!

Commercial, ASEL Instrument
ATC, Atlanta ARTCC

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