1. What can I do about invasive species, such as milfoil and zebra mussels?
This is a hot topic, particularly in the Northeast, Western United States and areas such as the Adirondack Park in New York state. The U.S. Coast Guard has issued voluntary guidelines for the control of invasive species transport by seaplane and other modes of transportation.
The Seaplane Pilots Association has teamed up with AOPA and number of agencies to produce a series of Invasive Species training videos, and we highly recommend that you watch these by clicking here...
Additionally, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with the local regulations in the state(s) you may question. You can find out more about this for each state on this site by clicking here... Additionally, check for the latest USCG recommendations and avoid flying from lakes that have invasive species present to lakes that do not have invasive species present without inspecting and decontaminating your seaplane.
Local contacts are the best source for information the status of a specific lake or body of water, and SPA lists this information when known in the Water Landing Directory app.
2. Who has the right of way, a seaplane or a boat?
FAR 91.115 places collision avoidance responsibly on the seaplane pilots with the language, "Seaplane pilots shall, insofar as possible, keep clear of all vessels and avoid impeding their navigation."
3. Am I required to carry Coast Guard approved life preservers?
The U.S. Coast Guard does not require seaplanes to carry "safety equipment", including life preservers, on the premise that such equipment is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration. Federal Aviation regulations require carriage of FAA approved floatation gear when operating under Part 91 for hire (FAR 91.205(b)(12)), but Part 91 flights not conducted for hire are not required by the FAA to carry floatation equipment.
It is worth noting that local authorities, including state, county and municipal authorities, may require that all vessels, including seaplanes, carry U.S. Coast Guard approved floatation gear on board. It is possible that such rules may be deemed preempted by federal regulation of safety equipment required onboard seaplanes, but this has not been tested in a court of law and should not be relied upon as fact.
If seeking floatation equipment approved by the U.S. Coast Guard, look for inflatable vests with a CO2 cartridge that is manually triggered. Vests that automatically inflate upon contact with water are extremely dangerous to the occupants of a seaplane, as a passive (non-inflatable) vests when worn in the aircraft. Both of these type of vests can trap the occupants of a seaplane inside if the aircraft becomes submerged.
SPA strongly recommends that every occupant of a seaplane wears a personal floatation device (PFD) and the association sells a model that our staff has picked as our recommended unit. You can purchase this unit by clicking here....
4. Is it legal to land a seaplane at night on the water?
While many part 135 operators are specifically prohibited from landing a seaplane at night on a body of water lit specifically for that purpose, Part 91 operators are not specially prohibited from landing at night on an unlit body of water.
SPA must stress that landing on a body of water at night should only be done with very specific knowledge of a body of water and the obstructions that are present including boat and other traffic that may be present. This is an advanced technique and should be approached with great caution if a pilot chooses to do so.
There are a few facilities in the world that do accommodate night seaplane landings such as the landing lane on Lake Hood in Anchorage, Alaska that is specifically lit to facilitate night seaplane landings.