Aviation safety issues and actions

Requirements for briefing the brace position in small aircraft

Issue number: AO-2017-005-SI-07
Who it affects: All aircraft owners, operators, pilots and passengers of small aeroplanes.
Issue owner: Civil Aviation Safety Authority
Transport function: Aviation: Air transport
Background: Investigation Report AO-2017-005
Issue release date: 17 October 2019
Current issue status: Safety action pending
Issue status justification:

The ATSB is satisfied that the proposed introduction of the Part 135 Manual of Standards (MOS), together with the safety education material released in 2018, will satisfactorily address this safety issue when implemented. The ATSB will monitor CASA’s introduction of the final version of the MOS.

Safety issue description

There was no requirement for operators of passenger transport flights in aircraft with six or less seats to provide passengers with a verbal briefing, or written briefing material, on the brace position for an emergency landing or ditching, even for aircraft without upper torso restraints fitted to all passenger seats.

Proactive Action

Action number: AO-2017-005-NSA-013
Action organisation: Civil Aviation Safety Authority
Action status: Closed

Safety action taken:  

On 10 April 2018, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) issued ‘Cabin safety bulletin 6 – Brace positions’. The purpose of the bulletin was to ‘…highlight to operators the importance of assuming an appropriate brace position and provide guidance associated with recommended brace-for-impact positions for both passengers and crew’. The bulletin was stated as applying to all Australian air operators. It emphasised the importance of using a brace position, and it provided detailed guidance information on appropriate brace positions for different situations.

On 10 October 2018, the CASA issued ‘Cabin safety bulletin 12 - General aviation passenger briefings’.[1] The purpose of the bulletin was to ‘…provide guidance on how to conduct a briefing to increase passenger situational awareness and enhance any response to an emergency or abnormal event within the passenger-carrying environment’.

The background section stated:

Survivors of aircraft accidents have provided anecdotal evidence as to the importance of their recollection of information concerning the correct operation of aircraft equipment such as exits, the location of emergency equipment and how to adopt the brace position for impact. Adequately briefed passengers, who understand how to help themselves, will assist in the quick and successful evacuation of an aircraft.

The bulletin provided guidance for briefings of small aeroplanes, helicopters and hot air balloons. For small aeroplanes, the bulletin included the following information.

Pre-flight briefing

▸Seat belt fastening, tightening, releasing procedures.

▸Importance of using a shoulder harness where fitted.

▸Location and operation of doors and emergency exits.

▸Location and operation of emergency equipment such as the emergency locator transmitter, survival kit, first-aid kit, fire extinguisher and any other safety equipment.

▸Location and use of life jackets, including fitment and when to inflate.

▸No smoking.

▸Oxygen-dispensing equipment.

▸Brace position.

▸Remain in the seat unless given permission to move.

▸Do not distract the pilot during take-off, manoeuvring or landing.

In the event of an emergency

Actions and precautions to take in the event of an emergency:

▸follow instructions

▸do not distract the pilot

▸check that any loose equipment in the cabin is secured

▸adopt brace position…

General guidance for pre-flight briefings on all aircraft types also referred to briefing the brace position, although specific guidance for helicopters did not mention the brace position.


[1]     The full bulletin, and other CASA cabin safety bulletins, is available on the CASA website at www.casa.gov.au/aircraft/standard-page/cabin-safety-bulletin.

Proactive Action

Action number: AO-2017-005-NSA-025
Action organisation: Civil Aviation Safety Authority
Date: 01 August 2019
Action status: Monitor

Safety action taken:

Civil Aviation Safety Regulation (CASR) Part 135, applicable to air transport operations (including passenger charter operations) in small aeroplanes, was issued in December 2018. CASR 135.280 stated that the operator and the pilot in command were required to provide passengers with a safety briefing, instructions or demonstrations in accordance with the requirements prescribed by the Part 135 Manual of Standards (MOS).

In December 2018, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA
)issued a draft MOS. With regard to safety briefings, the draft MOS stated that, among many other things, safety briefings must include information about ‘…when, and how, to assume the brace position’. The MOS stated that the safety briefing could be given orally, by audio presentation, by video presentation or a combination of these methods.

CASR 135 also required operators of aeroplanes with more than two rows of seats to ensure a safety briefing card was available for each passenger. The draft MOS stated that the safety briefing card needed to provide the same information as was required for a safety briefing (including when and how to assume the brace position).

In August 2019, in response to the draft ATSB report, CASA stated that the MOS was still under development.

Last update 17 October 2019