4 Tips For An Effective Departure Briefing – Pilot Tips


4 Pillars of an Effective Departure Briefing

The Departure Briefing

The departure briefing is one of the most important assets a pilot can have before takeoff. The departure briefing sets the standard so that all crew members understand what is expected of them during the flight.

Making sure your departure briefing is sound is critical to a great flight and can make a world of a difference.

Create a Framework

When building a departure briefing it is important to build a framework around your briefing. This way everything is standardized for each flight you do. It’s important to keep this framework simple and efficient so that it is easily repeatable and memorable for all stages of flight.

Here Are A Couple Of Pillars Of A Great Departure Brief:

Pilot Departure

1) Emergency Procedures

Emergency procedures are a huge factor in creating an effective departure brief. After all, creating a plan is a pilot’s greatest advantage in ensuring a safe flight. Having a plan for failure is even more important when it comes to the overall integrity of operations. Having an effective emergency procedure for all stages of the departure is important for all passengers and crew.

Emergencies Before Takeoff

What if you are rolling on the runway and decide to abort takeoff? Prepare for this possibility by including it in your departure briefing

“In the event of engine failure before rotation, providing there is an adequate amount of runway left; I will pull the throttle to idle and apply full brake pressure.”

“In the event of engine failure after rotation, providing there is an adequate amount of runway left; I will rotate the nose down and execute a landing applying full brake pressure.”

“In the event of engine failure after takeoff, above 1000 ft, we will look for a suitable landing spot straight ahead.”


Repeating this out loud helps solidify the plan of action in your head. Little do people realize however this plays a huge role in your decision-making if it was an actual emergency.

Practice this and memorize it, as this is one of the most important stages in a departure briefing.

2) Standard departure procedures

Differentiating yourself from a hobby pilot, to get to the next level in your professional career, it is always wise to start including standard departure procedures in your briefing.

Here are a few pillars of standard departure procedures:

  • Type of runway and the runway length

Understanding your aircraft limitations with the runway you are using.

  • Type of takeoff

Is this a short field takeoff requiring flaps? Or a standard takeoff

  • ATIS Information – Winds & Weather

What are the runway wind conditions and airspeeds at pattern altitude?

  • Abort point on the runway

At what point on the runway is takeoff inevitable

  • V-Speeds

Rotate speeds, Climb speeds, and Glide speeds

  • Pattern altitudes

Up to date pattern altitudes so that you are aware of traffic in the area

  • Any Turns or Noise abatement procedures.

To avoid fines and penalties it’s important to check local laws and standard departure patterns.

  • Gear and Flap operations

Understanding when to raise gear and flaps during the takeoff. Knowing the flap configuration needed for the most effective departure.

  • Radio communications

Need to make a call to departure after takeoff? Know the frequencies and have them on standby.

As you can see these statistics change depending on the specific airport you are at. You will need to do your due diligence to ensure that you know the up-to-date information for the airport.

3) The Passenger Brief

This can often be overlooked however it is possibly one of the most important. A good passenger brief helps calm your passengers and lets them know what to expect during the flight.

It’s important to brief your passengers on how to operate their seatbelts and how to exit the aircraft in the case of an emergency.A great passenger brief would be to demonstrate the seatbelt functionality.

After which, demonstrating to the passengers which direction to run (away from the propeller) in the case of an emergency. Showing passengers how to open the aircraft doors is essential, as general aviation aircraft often have different latch structures.

After it’s important to give you passengers key information about the flight, Estimated Time of Flight (ETOF), Altitude information, and any other relevant information that may pertain to their enjoyment. This helps give passengers the peace of mind to know that you are well equipped to take them to their destination safely.

4) Questions

The last pillar of a departure brief is ensuring all questions are answered. Ask your crew members and passengers if there are any questions to ensure that everyone understands what to expect.

Oftentimes people flying for the first time are usually hesitant and nervous. They will probably have tons of questions pertaining to small features of the aircraft. Ensuring they understand helps keep them calm and collected.

As for crew members, being on the same page is key to an effective flight deck. Making sure all crew members (even if it’s your hometown buddy sitting in the right seat) understand exactly what to expect on departure is essential. This ensures in the case that one person is distracted the other knows exactly what to look for.

A few additional briefing tips

1. Brief even when you are flying solo

We cannot stress this enough, even when flying by yourself it is super important to do a briefing. Flying by yourself can bring about feelings of complacency, having no passengers makes you feel more relaxed. This is why it is vital to have a strong and efficient briefing during solo flights.

Some may argue because a pilot is flying solo briefings are essential due to lack of assistance in the cockpit. In order to stay organized and on your game, it’s all about knowing what to expect in any eventuality.

2. Standardize your framework

We didn’t list the framework above for fun, we actually meant for you to use it effectively. Try not to randomize the order – for each of your flights choose the order of and stick with an order. Passenger brief, Standard departure procedures, and Emergency procedures, or the other way around. Make your framework feel like repetition so that you can memorize it effectively for any stage of flight.

3. Do your Due diligence

Make sure not to take it lightly, it’s important to know the new facts and information of any new airport you are at. This is essential for understanding runway environments and weather information. Make sure you understand the essential numbers such as runway length or abort points before you enter the cockpit. This will prevent you from frantically calculating Vspeeds after your run-up and give you a sense and peace of mind.

The Bottom Line

It is essential for every pilot, whether hobbyist, aspiring professional, or professional to have an efficient, effective departure brief. It ensures your mind is properly prepared for every eventuality during the departure.

Creating a structured framework, passenger briefings, emergency procedures, and knowing your standard departure procedures, can create organization on the flight deck leading to a safer flight. Knowing what to expect is an advantage for every pilot, as it cultivates the skills necessary for professional flying.

Check out our Buying vs Renting article here where we dive deeper into the comparison of owning versus renting your own aircraft.

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