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Flying Over Water

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FAA Regulations

I'd like to fly to the Florida Keys. Of course, we all know the FAR about flying high enough to get to land power off. I can't find the rule about flying over water and what the requirements for equipment. Can you help? I did find a bit about it in the ATP section but what applies to private? I know people fly it all the time and just want to be on the right side of this.

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3 Answers



  1. Vance Cochrane on Aug 06, 2010

    § 91.205 Powered civil aircraft with standard category U.S. airworthiness certificates: Instrument and equipment requirements.
    b(12) If the aircraft is operated for hire over water and beyond power-off gliding distance from shore, approved flotation gear readily available to each occupant and, unless the aircraft is operating under part 121 of this subchapter, at least one pyrotechnic signaling device. As used in this section, “shore” means that area of the land adjacent to the water which is above the high water mark and excludes land areas which are intermittently under water.

    However, if the flight is not for hire then you are not required by regulation to have floatation devices or a signaling device. However, that would not be very prudent.

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  2. Alex Clark on Aug 12, 2015

    Sec. 91.509 — Survival equipment for overwater operations.
    (a) No person may take off an airplane for a flight over water more than 50 nautical miles from the nearest shore unless that airplane is equipped with a life preserver or an approved flotation means for each occupant of the airplane.

    (b) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, no person may take off an airplane for flight over water more than 30 minutes flying time or 100 nautical miles from the nearest shore, whichever is less, unless it has on board the following survival equipment:

    (1) A life preserver, equipped with an approved survivor locator light, for each occupant of the airplane.

    (2) Enough liferafts (each equipped with an approved survival locator light) of a rated capacity and buoyancy to accommodate the occupants of the airplane.

    (3) At least one pyrotechnic signaling device for each liferaft.

    (4) One self-buoyant, water-resistant, portable emergency radio signaling device that is capable of transmission on the appropriate emergency frequency or frequencies and not dependent upon the airplane power supply.

    (5) A lifeline stored in accordance with §25.1411(g) of this chapter.

    (c) A fractional ownership program manager under subpart K of this part may apply for a deviation from paragraphs (b)(2) through (5) of this section for a particular over water operation or the Administrator may amend the management specifications to require the carriage of all or any specific items of the equipment listed in paragraphs (b)(2) through (5) of this section.

    (d) The required life rafts, life preservers, and signaling devices must be installed in conspicuously marked locations and easily accessible in the event of a ditching without appreciable time for preparatory procedures.

    (e) A survival kit, appropriately equipped for the route to be flown, must be attached to each required life raft.

    (f) As used in this section, the term shore means that area of the land adjacent to the water that is above the high water mark and excludes land areas that are intermittently under water.

    [Doc. No. 18334, 54 FR 34314, Aug. 18, 1989, as amended by Amdt. 91–280, 68 FR 54561, Sept. 17, 2003]

    NEXT: Sec. 91.511 – Communication and navigation equipment for overwater operations.
    PREVIOUS: Sec. 91.507 – Equipment requirements: Over-the-top or night VFR operations.

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  3. Mark Kolber on Aug 13, 2015

    Alex, that does not apply to private pilots flying a light piston airplane. FAR 91.509 is part of Part 91, Subpart F, which deals with “Large and Turbine-Powered Multiengine Airplanes and Fractional Ownership Program Aircraft”.

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