logging a safety pilot time

How To Log Safety Pilot Time 

Logging flight hours is very important whether you’re working to earn your pilot certificate or build time toward higher ratings. Much like we discussed in our previous post on how many pilots fly a plane, most private aircraft require two pilots to fly safely and efficiently. Each pilot has specific duties and responsibilities during the flight. 

During such flights with multiple pilots, each crew member has designated duties. The pilot in command occupies the left seat and is responsible for aircraft control and commanding all flight operations. Meanwhile, the safety pilot provides invaluable assistance from the right seat. As an extra set of eyes, the safety pilot helps scan for traffic, monitors gauges and communications, and acts as a backup for the working pilot. 

This safety pilot role, though supporting, allows individuals to log pilot time during certain flight maneuvers and tasks. Proper logging of these hours is crucial for advancing in your pilot training and career. In this guide, we explore the specific steps safety pilots must follow to accurately record their flight experience according to FAA regulations. 

how to log safety pilot time

How To Log Safety Pilot Time 

Being able to log flight time when serving as a safety pilot is valuable for any pilot working to build experience. The FAA permits pilots to log certain duties performed during a flight when they serve as an additional required crewmember alongside the safety pilot. To ensure you are logging this time accurately according to the regulations, carefully follow these steps:

Step 1: Verify your certificate and ratings.  

Only pilots holding at least a private pilot certificate with the appropriate category and class ratings for the aircraft being flown are eligible to log time as a safety pilot. For example, to log safety pilot time in a Cessna Citation Mustang business jet, you must hold a private pilot certificate with aircraft category, class, and type ratings for that model. Verifying your credentials upfront prevents any issues validating logged time later.

Step 2: Agree on duties before the flight. 

Prior to each flight where safety pilot duties will be performed, the pilots must agree that the safety pilot will solely manipulate the flight controls during the flight. This agreement can be either verbal or in writing. Documenting this agreement is essential for verifying flight time logs later.

Step 3: Maintain control of the aircraft. 

During the portions of flight where safety pilot time will be logged, the safety pilot must remain the sole manipulator of the controls. They should occupy the control seat and operate all aircraft controls, including takeoffs, landings, and any simulated instrument flights needed for training. Merely observing does not qualify for logging time.  

Step 4: Log Pilot-in-Command (PIC) time. 

To log PIC time, the safety pilot must remain the sole manipulator of aircraft switches, pedals and yoke/stick as appropriate for the make and model. This may involve activities like simulated instrument flights or actual takeoffs and landings that demonstrate real pilot control and proficiency. The safety pilot may log that time as PIC provided they hold the requisite category, class, and type ratings. Record this time in the PIC block of the logbook. 

how to log safety pilot time

Step 5: Log specific duties done as a safety pilot. 

When not solely manipulating the aircraft but still actively assisting from the controls seat, a safety pilot can log time as Second-in-Command (SIC). This includes duties like radio communications, chart reading or scans for traffic. Document the SIC time and duties performed in the remarks section. This experience is valuable whether pursuing a private pilot certificate or higher ratings. 

Additionally, pilots holding a sport or recreational pilot certificate may log SIC time that can be applied towards attaining a private pilot certificate if endorsed by their flight instructor. Ensure that you properly log any instruction received during the flight as dual instruction.

Step 6: Indicate dual instruction. 

When logging dual instruction received from the other pilot, be sure to specify this in remarks. Time logged as a safety pilot receiving instruction may count towards requirements for an instructor rating or certificate if receiving training from an appropriately rated flight instructor.

Step 7: Fulfill all requirements for the category. 

Safety pilot time goes toward meeting minimum hours needed for licenses, ratings and currency requirements in the aircraft category. This helps pilots pursuing higher certificates and ratings as well as maintaining flight proficiency. However, time logged as a safety pilot cannot be applied to completing a biennial flight review, instrument proficiency check, or fulfilling SIC time requirements for a sport or recreational pilot certificate.

safety pilot

Acting as a proper safety pilot involves properly logging time and activities carried out. 

Logging your safety pilot time accurately and completely according to these steps will ensure the experience validly contributes to your pilot qualifications and flight hours. Following the processes above ensures safety pilots receive due credit for their important role during flights.

In conclusion, while one pilot acts as the designated pilot in command in most private aircraft, the safety pilot performs vital duties that allow pilots to gain experience. Taking care to log this time properly according to regulations will fully translate safety pilot flight hours into advancing your certifications and ratings. 
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