Who is a flight observer?

An observer is a person who occupies a jump seat on the flight deck during a flight.

There are various reasons to have an observer on a flight:

  • Checking or examination of pilots
  • External (e.g. CAA) or internal (company) audit
  • Pilots on positioning duty (e.g. jump-seating to another base, home, etc.)
  • Pilots in training on supernumerary flight
  • Or even for no special reason, for example a pilot’s family member or friend on the flight deck (this usually requires special permission)

There are special rules on how to behave as an observer. These usually include:

  • No distraction of the flight crew, including a sterile cockpit
  • No use of personal electronic devices (PEDs)
  • No video recording during the flight

The flight crew should familiarise an observer with all applicable rules before the flight.