New Companion Course for Right Seat Passengers

by Laura Howard, Internal Communications Specialist, FlightSafety International

Imagine you are a passenger in an aircraft being flown by your business partner. Suddenly, he passes out! Besides screaming, what would you do? Designed for non-pilot passengers, the new Companion Course is focused on giving the right seat passenger information that will help them practice landing the aircraft in the case of an incapacitated pilot.

sim2Created in a partnership between FlightSafety Textron Aviation Training and the Citation Jets Pilot Association, this course covers fundamentals of flight and flight instruments, communication radio usage, transponder and autopilot basic operation. Ultimately, it is designed with the objective to build confidence in the ability to land the aircraft for a spouse or business partner who is often a passenger on these flights.

The Companion Course includes four hours of ground school and two hours in a simulator, and takes almost a full day. While this course should make flying safer for these aircraft owner/operators, it just might also encourage their significant other or business partner to pursue their own aviation dreams.

David Miller and his wife, Patty, were part of the alpha test course this past spring at the Wichita Cessna Learning Center. David is also the Director of  Safety Education for the CJP group. Cindy Broiles, another spouse who completed the course this summer, is also pictured within this article.

studyPatty said the course is beneficial for spouses because “we sit in the right seat often and fly together for long stretches of time  … so, we need to know how to handle an emergency and get that plane down. … The older our husbands get, the more likely an incident might happen.”

“Rusty Owen, the [FlightSafety Textron Aviation Training CJ3] instructor, was really good at putting us at ease and understood this was an intensively uncomfortable situation that no one wants to  be in. … He understood that all we wanted to do was  learn what was necessary to get the aircraft down. So, instead of designing the course like a test, he made it more about reassuring us that we were intelligent people and made it possible for us to land a plane. It was a very positive experience. … He really provided a secure, safe environment where we could learn.”

David commented that “one of the side benefits of the course that we didn’t think about too much in the beginning was that we wound up having a companion who is more comfortable assisting the pilot in all phases of flight. The chances of a companion having to land a jet by herself is small but the chances of them being able to help you every single day with the checklist, the radio, or flight planning – that happens every single flight. So, the net result, I think, is a much better trained and capable companion in the right seat.”

cockpitAfter going through the course and successfully landing the sim version of the CJ3, Patty asked, “Can we do it again? I have to do it again!” David commented that all of the ladies said the same thing. “Because now we felt like we could do this, possibly, and there was a chance we could actually get the aircraft down and we wanted more practice,” Patty replied.

When asked if she viewed right-seat flying differently since taking the Companion Course, Patty responded, “When I get in there now, instead of it just being a joyride for me, I feel like I have to reacquaint myself with the process of how we do everything, this is what you do next, and the flaps go down, and what comes next. I have to practice it when I get into the airplane now. … David is now more willing to let me do things.”

David added, “I think it’s affected both of us. I think a lot of times men, especially, get in the left seat, and we think we can do it all and we don’t even give our companion the opportunity to show how effective they can be. So, the course also teaches the husband that the companions can really land the plane.”

He continued, “I must say that we probably couldn’t have done it without the huge support of everybody at FlightSafety: From Brad Thress, Rich High, Jack Tessmann, Trent Coria, both the center managers at the Wichita Centers, Rachel Runner and Scott Politte, the instructor, Rusty Owen – there was a whole group of people who made themselves available and said, ‘How can we help? What can we do to make this a success?’ I’m pretty excited about it.”


After successfully completing the course, Cindy receives her certificate from Rachel Runner, the Wichita Cessna Learning Center Manager, accompanied by her instructor, Rusty Owen.

The Companion Course was introduced at the Citation Jet Pilots Association’s virtual convention October 22-23. You can view the CJP video here. You’ll see some familiar faces!

The Companion Course is currently available for those flying Mustang, CJ1, CJ2, CJ2+, CJ3, M2/CJ3+, and CJ4 aircraft. This course will be available at the Carlsbad, Orlando, San Antonio, Tampa, Wichita Cessna and Wichita East Learning Centers.

Mr. Miller also wrote an article about his and his wife’s experiences with the Companion Course in Twin & Turbine Magazine. Read this short article to get their perspectives on our new course.

Text PILOT to 888111 to learn more about the Companion Course and any of our other training courses.