a. Background. From the standpoint of passenger survival in seaplanes, an upset or capsizing from accidental water contact - whether it is a float or a wingtip or an encounter with a large wave or landing gear down on amphibious floats - is the most critical type of occurrence. This is because of the lack of time for preparation for evacuation and the likelihood of major cabin structural damage from impact with the water. During such a crisis, the pilot may be too busy coping with the problem to give instructions beyond the order to evacuate. Furthermore, if the pilot becomes incapacitated in an emergency, it is important for the passengers to know what to do and how to do it without additional prompting from the pilot. Since seaplanes tend to come to rest inverted in water accidents or incidents but can remain afloat for long periods of time if the floats are not breached, the FAA cannot stress enough the importance of a thorough preflight passenger briefing, even when one is not required. (Although this AC suggests topics to cover in such a preflight briefing, the pilot should also consult the POH or the AFM for any special evacuation procedures.) Evacuation of a seaplane creates a few problems not associated with a landplane; therefore, passengers need to know the location and operation of normal and emergency exits, flotation gear, seatbelts and shoulder harnesses, etc. The PIC is directly responsible for and the final authority as to the operation of an aircraft. Being "directly responsible" may also include responsibility for passengers carded in that aircraft in the event of an accident or incident.

b. Presentation. The pilot should present the pretakeoff oral briefing preferably before engine start so passengers can easily hear it and easily see the actual or simulated demonstrations. Pilots should speak clearly and distinctly and physically point out and explain the operation of both normal and emergency exits and any safety equipment on board. Whenever possible, pilots should demonstrate use of safety equipment. When a demonstration is impractical, such as demonstrating the actual inflation of flotation gear, the pilot should simulate the actions involved as closely as possible.

c. Pretakeoff Briefing. Before each takeoff, the pilot should orally brief all passengers on each of the following:

(1) When, where, and under what conditions passengers may smoke and when smoking materials must be extinguished.

(2) How to fasten, tighten, and unfasten the safety belt and shoulder harness (if installed) without looking at the mechanism and how to stow the loose end of the seatbelt so that the loose end does not hinder opening of the seatbelt in the event of capsizing.

(3) How to operate the seats, forward and backward, to enhance egress.

(4) That the seat back should be upright for takeoff and landing.

(5) The location of each normal and emergency exit.

(6) The operation of each normal and emergency exit by explanation and demonstration, if practical.

(7) To leave carry-on items behind in the event of an evacuation in the water.

(8) To establish "situational awareness." During the preflight briefing, the pilot should help passengers establish a definite frame of reference, such as left hand on the left knee or left armrest or right hand toward the direction of the exit. Once they have established situational awareness, passengers can use a "hand-over-hand" technique to make their way to an exit when the pilot gives the evacuation order; e.g., "Exit through the left rear door," or "Exit right side." Using positional situational awareness and the "hand-over-hand" technique decreases the possibility of becoming disoriented. The pilot should stress the point that whether a passenger is upright or inverted, left and right are still the same; i.e., if the exit is on the passenger's right while upright, it will still be on the passenger's right if inverted. The pilot should also be sure to make all directional references to the passenger's right or left, NOT the pilot's.

(9) The following various aspects of flotation gear:

(i) If using flotation cushions, the pilot should brief on the type, location, and how to use in the water, including a physical demonstration, if possible; e.g., how to insert arms through the straps and rest the torso on the cushion once in the water and NOT to wear the cushion on one's back.

(ii) If using some form of personal flotation device (PFD) or life preserver, the pilot should brief on the type, location, and use of the available PFD or life preserver, including a demonstration of how to don the device or life preserver and a simulated demonstration of how to inflate an inflatable device either by carbon dioxide (CO2) or by oral or manual methods after entering the water. The pilot must emphasize that inflatable life preservers should not be inflated before exiting the aircraft since these devices can easily get hung up on wreckage, block an exit, or prevent a passenger from exiting an inverted seaplane.

NOTE: The FAA suggests that operators consider establishing a policy where all occupants would wear inflatable life preservers or jackets any time the seaplane operates on or near the water.

(10) The use and operation of any fire extinguishers on board, location of survival gear - including the Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) and flares - an appropriate brace position, and the proper location for carry-on items.

(11) Caution around the propeller. Serious injuries have resulted from propeller strikes when unwary passengers attempt to help in the launching or docking of a seaplane. In the preflight briefing pilots should instruct passengers not to assist unless specifically requested to do so by the pilot. If the pilot anticipates needing passenger assistance, the pilot should provide specific instructions on the passenger's duties, including a precaution about avoiding the spinning propeller.

d. Passengers Needing Assistance. The pilot should individually brief a passenger who may need assistance in exiting. The briefing should include all of the above information and who will be assisting the passenger to exit. If the passenger is accompanied by an attendant, the pilot should brief both the passenger and the attendant on the above information, including the most appropriate route to an exit, when to move toward the exit, and the most appropriate manner of assisting the passenger.

e. Prelanding Briefing. At a minimum before each landing, the pilot should orally brief all passengers to fasten seatbelts and shoulder harnesses (if installed), place seat backs in the upright position, and stow carry-on items.


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