Ask the Captain: Who’s allowed to ride in the cockpit jumpseat? Does the FAA ‘own’ it?

I have heard that there is a jumpseat “owned” by the Federal Aviation Administration in every plane so an FAA inspector can sit there to check on the pilots whenever they want. True?

– Costpet, St. Petersburg, Florida

Almost all airliners have at least one jumpseat. It is not “owned” by the FAA; however, an air carrier inspector (who may be looking into operations, maintenance or avionics) may occupy it to observe the flight. The inspectors reserve the jumpseat, and it must be for official duties.

Pilots, investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and other specially qualified people can also ride in the jumpseat. But the FAA has priority for official use.

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