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Potential Flight Hazards


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.