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Michigan bill would protect seaplane accessMichigan bill would protect seaplane access

Towns and municipalities in Michigan have been restricting seaplane access to public inland waters in Michigan. A bill before the state Senate would preserve access to public waters by giving the Michigan Aeronautics Commission authority to protect the state’s open water policy, which allows seaplanes to be operated where it is safe to do so under FAA regulations.

AOPA file photo by Mike Fizer.

The commission would be able to establish uniformity of operations across the public waters and protect the waters from being restricted to seaplanes by local municipalities, according to AOPA Great Lakes Regional Manager Kyle Lewis who testified Nov. 9 before the Michigan Senate Transportation Committee in support of the bill.

Lewis explained that seaplane flight schools, commercial seaplane operators, and one-of-a-kind retreats like Beaver Island and Mackinac Island attract many seaplane pilots and enthusiasts from out of state.

Lewis educated committee members on the training and testing that seaplane pilots undergo, including maritime right-of way, docking techniques, calm and rough water landings, noise abatement, and more. “This training is above and beyond what the average recreational boater or fisherman receives” even though “the average seaplane used for recreation purposes has similar horsepower to that of a well-equipped bass fishing boat,” Lewis said in formal testimony.

In addition, pilots use uniform operating procedures “regardless of the state or jurisdiction they are flying into,” Lewis said. The bill would give the Michigan Aeronautics Commission the ability to provide that uniformity.

The bill does not include any provisions for “special permitting, licenses, or fees that could become burdensome to seaplane operators,” Lewis said, further explaining AOPA’s support for the legislation.

In the meantime, Lewis said, “AOPA strongly encourages its membership who operate these type of aircraft to educate their neighbors and communities on floatplane operation routines.”

Topics: Advocacy, State Legislation, Seaplane

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