Left seat vs. Right seat

I just read the article "Musical Chairs" by Scott "Sky" Smith in the March magazine issue, and it left me with a few questions.

I have an expired CFI certificate and have thoughts of eventually getting it reinstated. So, I frequently fly solo from the right seat of my 172 and practice private and commercial pilot maneuvers. By doing that, am I risking loss of insurance coverage if anything were to happen resulting in an insurance claim?

To take this a step further, if I were to take my grandson, who is a student pilot, along just for the purpose of demonstrating these maneuvers; if anything were to happen, would the insurance company assume that he is the one flying, and could that invalidate my coverage?


  • JgoaviationJgoaviation Flight Captain

    I am no insurance expert but I’ll give the answer a go. Flying from the left or right seat should not matter legally. I don’t know of a regulation that says the PIC must fly from an assigned seat in a 172. As far as flying with your grandson is concerned, I view it as you flying with just another individual in the left seat. You aren’t legally giving instruction to him and he just happens to be a student pilot. Just make sure you meet currency requirements for carrying passengers. The not helpful answer would be to ask your insurance company. 😉

  • Thanks Jgo,

    I have asked my insurance company about this. They are very good at giving vague answers and tend to quote FAA regs. which isn't helpful.

    The thing that concerns me is that the insurance company might make assumptions on who was flying the plane based on who was sitting in which seat.

    This from Scott's article:

    "At the Time of a Claim:

    What this all boils down to, when talking insurance, is who is in charge and who is flying the plane at the time of a claim. Since most pilots fly from the left seat, and most planes are designed for operation in flight from the left seat, it’s almost always assumed that the pilot in command is in the left seat. As we have established, that’s not always a requirement, but in the case of a loss where all that’s left is salvage, the left seat will be the assumption....."

    After reading this article, I'm really hesitant to fly from the right seat, unless I'm flying solo, or have a fully rated and current pilot in the left seat.

  • I honestly think as PIC you can choose to sit where you like. If you’re comfortable and capable flying left seat I wonder if you inform your insurance company that is where you fly from in writing. They can not stop you from doing this and you will have it on record that is your preference for flying. Let them know what you are doing without mentioning passengers and their ratings or license status. I think this would negate any worries.

  • Thanks Bruce,

    I'm in the process of renewing my insurance, and I think I will let them know that I plan to do some flying from the right seat in preparation for a CFI reinstatement checkride. I'm pretty sure that will not effect my coverage.

  • Good luck on your check ride! After rereading my post I meant to say flying from the right seat. But I see that you inferred the proper seating position.

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