Seaplane/Floatplane - A Passenger's Guide - TP 12365

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Flying On Board Seaplanes/Floatplanes

Be prepared!
Read this before flight!


Transport Canada takes the safety of the travelling public very seriously.

Before takeoff, read the safety briefing card and listen carefully when the pilots give a complete safety briefing. Make sure the briefing includes all the following items and ask questions about things that are not clear to you.

Passenger Briefing Checklist

  • Baggage limits
  • Where baggage is stowed
  • How the seat belts work
  • How to secure seat backs and tray tables
  • How to know where you are in the plane, no matter its position
  • Where to find and how to use exits
  • Where to find the emergency locator transmitter (ELT), survival kit, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, oxygen, etc.
  • Rules about using electronic devices
  • Where to find and how to use life preservers
  • Rules about smoking
  • Exiting underwater (underwater egress)

Stowing baggage

Many operators do not permit carry-on baggage in the cabin because it can hurt someone if it isn’t well secured. If you can bring baggage on board, ask your pilot where and how to stow it safely.

Certain dangerous goods or hazardous materials are illegal on board a seaplane/floatplane. Do not bring any gases, corrosives, spray cans, flammable liquids, explosives (including ammunition), poisons, magnetic materials, etc., onto the plane without checking with your pilot.

Using your seat belt

Make sure the seat belt fits tight around your hips, and wear it at all times. Always use the shoulder harness if there is one. Practice finding and releasing the latch with both hands and your eyes closed until you are sure you could do it in an emergency.

Knowing how to find and use exits

Not all seaplanes/floatplanes are the same. Learn where to find, and how to use, all exits before takeoff. Ask the pilot if you can practice opening the exit(s) before engine start up.

Find the exit in relation to your left or right knee. If the exit is on your right while upright, it will still be on your right even if the seaplane/ floatplane lands or comes to rest in another position. Taking the time to become familiar with the inside of the plane will help you find your way to an exit, even with your eyes closed.

Knowing how to find and use life preservers

Seaplanes/floatplanes are required to carry life preservers or personal flotation devices (PFD) for every person on board. Find yours! Your pilot should provide a demonstration on where to find it, how to remove it from stowage and its packaging, how to put it on, how to inflate it, and when. Ask your pilot if you should wear it during the flight. If so, wear it, but NEVER INFLATE IT WHILE IN THE AIRCRAFT.

Getting Out Safely!

Underwater egress

Canada has a strong aviation safety record. But, accidents can happen. In most water accidents, seaplanes/floatplanes come to rest upside down. The key to your survival is to stay aware of where to find the exit, and to get out of the aircraft and to the surface of the water as quickly as you can.

1. Stay calm — Think about what you are going to do when the initial shock of the impact passes.

2. Grab your life preserver/PFD— If time permits, put on, or at least, grab your life preserver or PFD. DO NOT INFLATE IT until after you exit the aircraft. Why? You cannot swim underwater with an inflated life preserver. You may get trapped.

3. Open the exit and grab hold— If sitting next to an exit, find and grab the exit handle in relation to your left or right knee. Open the exit. The exit may not open until the cabin is sufficiently flooded and the inside water pressure has equalized. DO NOT release your seatbelt and shoulder harness until you are ready to exit. Why? You will begin to float upwards, making it easy to become confused and more difficult to get to the exit.

4. Release your seat belt/harness— Once the exit is open, and you know your exit path, keep a hold of a fixed part of the seaplane/floatplane and release your belt with the other hand.

5. Exit the aircraft— Move towards your nearest exit. If it is blocked or jammed, immediately go to the next nearest exit. Always exit by placing one hand on a fixed part of the aircraft, and not letting go before grabbing another fixed part (hand over hand). Pull yourself through the exit. Do not let go until you are out. Resist the urge to kick, as you may get caught in loose wires or debris, or you might kick a person exiting right behind you. If you get stuck, back up, twist your body 90 degrees, and then exit.

6. Get to the surface— Once you have exited the seaplane/floatplane, follow the bubbles to the surface. If you cannot, inflate your life preserver as a last resort. Exhale slowly as you rise.

7. Inflate your life preserver— Only inflate it when you are clear of the wreckage. Why? Life preservers can easily get caught on wreckage, block an exit or prevent someone else from exiting.

NOTE: This brochure does not replace the aircraft’s SAFETY FEATURES CARD or PASSENGER SAFETY BRIEFING.

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