This AC provides information to FAR Part 91 seaplane operators regarding seaplane preflight, oral briefings for seaplane passengers, the use of safety belts and shoulder harnesses in seaplanes, escape/egress after capsizing, water survival, and flotation gear for seaplane occupants.
This AC specifically recommends that seaplane operators equip their aircraft with approved flotation gear that is readily available to, and preferably worn by, each occupant and that pilots in command (PIC) brief passengers on the location and use of flotation gear and the location and operation of each normal and emergency exit. Appropriate types of flotation gear are discussed later in this AC.
a. For-Hire Operations. FAR Sec. 91.205(b)(11) requires that approved flotation gear be readily available to each occupant of an aircraft, including a seaplane, when it is operated for hire over water and beyond power-off gliding distance from shore. FAR Sec. 91.107(a) requires each PIC of any aircraft to ensure that persons on board are briefed on the following:
to fasten their safety belts and shoulder harnesses (if installed) before takeoff and landing, and
how to fasten and unfasten the safety belt and shoulder harness (if installed).
FAR Part 91 contains no specific requirements for the carriage of approved flotation gear on seaplanes operated for hire over water but within power-off gliding distance from shore. Similarly, if flotation gear is on board a seaplane operated for hire over water but within power-off gliding distance from shore, the PIC is not required to brief passengers on the location of flotation gear or aircraft exits. However, seaplanes are susceptible to capsizing under certain conditions; e.g., turning upwind from downwind in strong winds, because of improper water takeoff/landing techniques, or landing gear down on water with amphibious floats. Consequently, in accidents passengers who managed to escape might have been saved from drowning had they had flotation gear.
b. Status of Seaplanes as Vessels. According to the United States Coast Guard (USCG), a seaplane is not a vessel once it lands on the water. Consequently, the seaplane is not required to comply with USCG regulations while on the water.
NOTE: A USCG memorandum dated August 8, 1991, and stating the above policy is on file at Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Operations Branch, AFS-820, 800 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC 20591. A copy of that memorandum has been provided to the Seaplane Pilots Association, 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, MD 21701-4798.
In this AC seaplane refers to an airplane on floats (amphibious or nonamphibious) or a flying boat (water-only or amphibious).
RELATED READING MATERIAL.
Readers may find additional information on FAR requirements and other information related to the subject of this AC in the following:
a. FAR Secs. 91.107, 91.115, and 91.205, which are contained in a subscription to FAR Part 91 sold by the U.S. Government Printing Office, Superintendent of Documents, Washington, DC 20402-9325;
b. AC 61-21A, Flight Training Handbook, sold by the U.S. Government Printing Office, Superintendent of Documents, Washington, DC 20402-9325;
c. AC 120-47, Survival Equipment for Use in Overwater Operations, free from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Utilization and Storage Section, M-443.2, Washington, DC 20590;
d. AC 121-24A, Passenger Safety Information Briefings and Briefing Cards, free from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Utilization and Storage Section, M-443.2, Washington, DC 20590; and
e. AC 150/5210-13A, Water Rescue Plans, Facilities, and Equipment, free from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Utilization and Storage Section, M-443.2, Washington, DC 20590.
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