Flying Safe

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Title: Flying Safe

(Our FIELD REPORTER speaking to camera, Floatplane in the background.)

Canada offers thousands of beautiful places like this. And many Canadians – and visitors – take the opportunity to enjoy them.

That is a floatplane. It takes off and lands right on the water. It’s perfect for reaching places with lots of lakes and no airports. It’s similar to other aircraft in many ways, however seaplanes and floatplanes do have some differences to keep in mind.

They may be small and some floatplanes can only carry a few passengers at a time. With so little space, some operators won’t allow carry-on baggage in the cabin. Ask ahead to find out what you would be allowed to bring with you. Most luggage will go back here.

Be aware of any dangers linked to getting in and out of a seaplane. For example, watch for any aircraft fittings like struts and propellers that may be sharp or fragile. Make sure you are properly briefed and understand:

  • where to step to climb in and out; and,
  • what the pilot expects you to do if you board or deplane while the engine is running.
Never approach or leave the aircraft near a turning propeller.

As with any aircraft, know where the exits are and how to use them before takeoff . Knowing the layout of the plane and how the exits work, will make it much easier to find your way out in an emergency.
If you don’t get a proper briefing before take off, don’t be shy – ask for one – it’s required by regulation.

Because water is your runway, knowing how to use your life preserver is also important. Every seaplane in Canada must carry a life preserver for each person on board, so find yours and know how to inflate it properly. Now, some people feel safer wearing their life preserver during flight. Ask your pilot if this is OK—just be sure NOT to inflate it while you’re inside the plane.

You need to keep your seat belt on at all times inside a floatplane. You might want to practice how to release the buckle with both hands – and even with your eyes closed, so that you’re sure you could do it in an emergency.

Always read through this Transport Canada safety brochure before taking a trip – it’s always best to be prepared. For example, we know that when a water accident happens, a seaplane often flips upside down. Here are some things you need to know to get out safely:

Stay calm. Find your life preserver, put it on, but DO NOT inflate it yet. It could get snagged on something and it will make swimming difficult. Open the closest unblocked emergency exit, if you are seated next to it. Then, and, only when you are ready to exit the aircraft, release your seatbelt; and exit the aircraft by pulling yourself hand over hand. Finally, when you reach the surface of the water and you are clear of the aircraft, inflate your life preserver.

To repeat,

  • Stay CALM
  • Find your LIFE PRESERVER
  • OPEN the exit, if you are seated next to it
  • Release your SEAT BELT
  • Pull yourself through the EXIT
  • Then GET to the surface of the water.
  • And inflate your life preserver.

Your pilot is experienced and well trained. Always listen carefully to his or her safety briefing.

It should cover everything we’ve discussed, as well as other things like where to find first aid kits and fire extinguishers, And rules about using electronic devices aboard the plane.

And if anything is unclear, don’t hesitate to ask questions!

Seaplanes are a great way to visit much of Canada.  Keep these tips in mind and you'll have a safe and memorable trip.

Be informed. Be prepared. Be safe.

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