CHAPTER 1—Rules, Regulations, and Aids for Navigation


In general, the privileges and limitations of a seaplane rating are similar to those of the equivalent land rating. The same standards and requirements apply as for comparable landplane certificates.

While it is possible for a student to use a seaplane to obtain all the flight training necessary to earn a pilot certificate, and many pilots have done so, this publication is intended primarily for pilots who already hold airman certificates and would like to add seaplane capabilities. Therefore, this chapter does not address pilot certificate requirements, regulations, or procedures that would also apply to landplane operations. Information on regulations not directly related to water operations is available in other Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) publications.

For certification purposes, the term “seaplane” refers to a class of aircraft. A pilot requires additional training when transitioning to a seaplane. Ground and flight training must be received and logged, and a pilot must pass a class rating practical test prior to initial operations as pilot in command. This training requires the use of an authorized flight instructor to conduct such training and attest to the competency of a pilot prior to taking the practical test. Because the seaplane rating is part of an existing pilot certificate, the practical test is not as extensive as for a new pilot certificate, and covers only the procedures unique to seaplane operations. No separate written test is required for pilots who are adding seaplane to an existing pilot certificate.

Adding a seaplane rating does not modify the overall limitations and privileges of the pilot certificate. For example, private pilots with a seaplane rating are not authorized to engage in seaplane operations that would require a commercial certificate. Likewise, a pilot with a single-engine seaplane class rating may not fly multiengine seaplanes without further training. However, no regulatory distinction is made between flying boats and seaplanes equipped with floats. [Figure 1-1]


Because of the nature of seaplane operations, certain regulations apply. Most of them are set forth in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) parts 1, 61, and 91.

Just as land-based pilots must understand airport operations, the pilot certification requirements in 14 CFR part 61 require seaplane pilots to know and use the rules for seaplane base operations.

Specific regulations recognize the unique characteristics of water operations. For example, 14 CFR part 61, section 61.31 takes into account that seaplanes seldom have retractable landing gear as such, so an endorsement to act as pilot in command of a complex seaplane requires training in a seaplane with flaps and a controllable pitch propeller. Likewise, in 14 CFR part 91, section 91.107, there is an exception to the rule that everyone must have a seat and wear a seatbelt during movement on the surface. The person pushing off or mooring a seaplane at a dock is authorized to move around while the seaplane is in motion on the surface.

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