Keep an eye on your passengers (because “big brother” is watching…)

On the Ask a CFI website, a pilot named John has posted a query about an interesting incident involving a passenger of his who accidentally crossed over the Non-Movement Area Boundary at a controlled airport:

Our plane was next to the boundary, he got on the phone while I was securing the airplane (puting on the cover, writing down the time, etc, etc) and he stepped into the controlled area (an active taxiway). He was one or two steps into the taxiway when others saw him and started yelling at him. I looked up, saw where he was and asked him to step in. Airport security showed up, my passenger apologized, they took down his information, and we left.

John went on to ask whether he broke any FARs as explaining to his passengers what the Non-Movement Area Boundary is has never been part of his brief as he had never parked so close to a controlled area (in this case, two or three steps after clearing the wing).

However, “big brother” was obviously watching. While Airport Security didn’t initially ask for John’s information, he later heard they asked around for his Certificate # and Contact Information – which a fellow pilot was nice enough to supply. Hence, John asked whether or not he should be expecting a call from the FAA.

Mark Kolber replied by pointing out a pilot is generally responsible for the aircraft and its passengers and if the airport has had incursion problems, John might be hearing from the FAA. In that case, he suggested there is no downside to filling out a NASA ASRS form and not breaking the anonymity of the process as the incident is a very good example to educate others about airport safety.

In addition, Mark suggested that John might need to speak with a qualified aviation attorney to discuss the situation and get some general direction of what to do it the FAA comes knocking at the door. While that may seem like overkill, you never know how an individual FAA inspector might view the situation. Mark also added a “PS” to say it’s generally not a good idea to discuss an actual regulatory violation on a public forum where a real name is listed – something else to remember.

Obviously there are some lessons in this seemingly innocent incident in that “big brother” might be watching you and your passengers at the airport. Hence, you need to also watch yourself and your passengers as well.

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