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AIM

10/12/17

7

−5−6

Potential Flight Hazards

NOTE

No FAA standard exists for the appearance of the runway
half

−way sign. FIG 7−5−1 shows a graphical depiction of

a typical runway half

−way sign.

7

−5−8. Seaplane Safety

a.

Acquiring a seaplane class rating affords access

to many areas not available to landplane pilots.
Adding a seaplane class rating to your pilot certificate
can be relatively uncomplicated and inexpensive.
However, more effort is required to become a safe,
efficient, competent “bush” pilot. The natural hazards
of the backwoods have given way to modern
man-made hazards. Except for the far north, the
available bodies of water are no longer the exclusive
domain of the airman. Seaplane pilots must be
vigilant for hazards such as electric power lines,
power, sail and rowboats, rafts, mooring lines, water
skiers, swimmers, etc.

FIG 7

−5−1

Typical Runway Half

−way Sign

b.

Seaplane pilots must have a thorough under-

standing of the right-of-way rules as they apply to
aircraft versus other vessels. Seaplane pilots are
expected to know and adhere to both the U.S. Coast
Guard’s (USCG) Navigation Rules, International

−In-

land, and 14 CFR Section 91.115, Right

−of−Way

Rules; Water Operations. The navigation rules of the
road are a set of collision avoidance rules as they
apply to aircraft on the water. A seaplane is
considered a vessel when on the water for the
purposes of these collision avoidance rules. In
general, a seaplane on the water must keep well clear

of all vessels and avoid impeding their navigation.
The CFR requires, in part, that aircraft operating on
the water “. . . shall, insofar as possible, keep clear of
all vessels and avoid impeding their navigation, and
shall give way to any vessel or other aircraft that is
given the right

−of−way . . . .” This means that a

seaplane should avoid boats and commercial
shipping when on the water. If on a collision course,
the seaplane should slow, stop, or maneuver to the
right, away from the bow of the oncoming vessel.
Also, while on the surface with an engine running, an
aircraft must give way to all nonpowered vessels.
Since a seaplane in the water may not be as
maneuverable as one in the air, the aircraft on the
water has right-of-way over one in the air, and one
taking off has right-of-way over one landing. A
seaplane is exempt from the USCG safety equipment
requirements, including the requirements for Person-
al Flotation Devices (PFD). Requiring seaplanes on
the water to comply with USCG equipment
requirements in addition to the FAA equipment
requirements would be an unnecessary burden on
seaplane owners and operators.

c.

Unless they are under Federal jurisdiction,

navigable bodies of water are under the jurisdiction
of the state, or in a few cases, privately owned. Unless
they are specifically restricted, aircraft have as much
right to operate on these bodies of water as other
vessels. To avoid problems, check with Federal or
local officials in advance of operating on unfamiliar
waters. In addition to the agencies listed in
TBL 7

−5−1, the nearest Flight Standards District

Office can usually offer some practical suggestions as
well as regulatory information. If you land on a
restricted body of water because of an inflight
emergency, or in ignorance of the restrictions you
have violated, report as quickly as practical to the
nearest local official having jurisdiction and explain
your situation.

d.

When operating a seaplane over or into remote

areas, appropriate attention should be given to
survival gear. Minimum kits are recommended for
summer and winter, and are required by law for flight
into sparsely settled areas of Canada and Alaska.
Alaska State Department of Transportation and
Canadian Ministry of Transport officials can provide
specific information on survival gear requirements.
The kit should be assembled in one container and be
easily reachable and preferably floatable.