1. Can I fly an amphibious seaplane without a seaplane rating?
You can exercise the privileges of "airplane - single engine (or multi-engine) land" to operate an amphibious single-engine (or multi-engine) seaplane from hard surface runways. You cannot land that same airplane in the water, without a seaplane rating.
2. Can I fly an experimental seaplane without a seaplane rating?
A loophole in FAR61.31(k)(2)(iii), when combined with the absence of a stipulation in an experimental aircraft's operating limitations (specific to one aircraft) requiring the operator to hold a seaplane rating, at one time allowed many experimental seaplanes be operated on the water by pilots not holding a seaplane rating.
The FAA in part closed that loophole in 2005 by modifying FAR 61.31(k)(2), adding a new subparagraph (iii)(B) making category and class ratings a requirement for any pilots an experimental aircraft carrying passengers.
However, pilots without a seaplane rating may still be permitted to operate an experimental seaplane without passengers provided that the aircraft's operating limitations do not require that the pilot hold a seaplane rating.
Even if the FAA permits operation of your experimental seaplane without a seaplane rating, it is unlikely that your insurance company will be so lenient. And even if you don't carry insurance, you should carefully weigh the considerable risks of flying a seaplane --- seaplane --- without type specific training.
3. Where can I obtain a seaplane rating?
The Seaplane Pilots Association has a complete list of seaplane schools, ratings offered and aircraft used for training in the Water Landing Directory app. This app is available for both Apple and Android based mobile devices. Additionally, once a year SPA publishes the Flight Training Directory, which is a special issue of Water Flying Magazine dedicated to seaplane flight training. A complete listing of seaplane flight training facilities appears in this issue.
The entire Water Landing Directory app, including the Flight Training Directory, is also available online.
4. What is required to obtain a seaplane rating?
A seaplane rating is granted only on the basis of demonstrated proficiency, not on the basis of a specific level of experience. Most pilots will find that certifiable proficiency is reached in 6 to 8 hours of flight training.
However, it should be noted that the basic level of proficiency required to obtain a seaplane rating is nowhere near enough experience to arm you with the "real world" experience of water flying. Insurance companies often impose their own minimum experience levels, and regardless, it is advisable that one pursues additional training in the aircraft and in the area where you plan to fly.
5. Does a seaplane rating also count as a flight review?
6. Will my seaplane rating upgrade automatically if my pilot certificate is upgraded?
No. If you obtain an add-on seaplane rating as a private pilot, then upgrade to a commercial pilots certificate in a land plane, you will not be able to exercise commercial privileges in a seaplane until you upgrade your seaplane rating as well. If you don't plan to fly a seaplane commercially, you can continue to use your seaplane rating in the capacity of a private pilot while exercising commercial land privileges.
7. How should I log amphibious flight time?
In a nutshell, any way you want. Strategies vary from person to person, and there is no known guidance from the FAA on this subject. Insurance companies are often interested in logged amphibious time as a distinct subcategory of logged seaplane time. Many seaplane pilots who fly amphibs primarily from land based airports consider their amphibious flight time as land plane time. Others consider it seaplane time. A third group breaks it down according to the number land and/or operations. The bottom line: it is up to you.
For insurance purposes, it is best to log amphibious time as seaplane time, since total seaplane time is a much more important factor in determining seaplane insurance rates rather than total land plane time.