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Seaplane pilots: Raise gear on positive rate

Safety campaign driven by too-common oversight

Editor's note: A reader pointed out that some amphibious aircraft may indicate a climb during rotation, after the nose wheel lifts off but while the mains are still on the ground. In such aircraft, confirming the climb with reference to the altimeter before raising the landing gear may be prudent.

The Seaplane Pilots Association created a video course that aims to instill an unfailing habit of raising landing gear immediately after every hard-surface takeoff in any amphibious aircraft.

The group created a video and online course after an analysis of accident data revealed that pilots simply did not raise the landing gear after takeoff and before landing on water—in 83 percent of all gear-down water landings. According to a written briefing provided to AOPA, the safety message of the course is equally simple: “The first link to break in a chain that could lead to a gear-down water landing accident is to raise the landing gear after taking off from a hard-surface runway. The action that will break that link: Positive Rate of Climb—Gear Up!”

Including a gear status check in after-takeoff and subsequent checklists provides additional protection against an oversight that leads to a gear-down water landing which is “almost always disastrous and often fatal,” SPA noted. While a gear check is never wasted in any phase of flight, “the most effective way to avoid building a chain of events that could lead to a water landing with the landing gear extended is to raise the gear after taking off from a paved, grass, or gravel runway.”

SPA Executive Director Steve McCaughey delivered the message on camera in the video created to raise landing gear awareness, noting that about one in every four gear-down water landings results in fatalities. “It is violent, disorienting, and totally preventable.”

The video was developed by the Seaplane Foundation and Seaplane Pilots Association, and was filmed and produced by FF&T of Orlando, Florida.

Jim Moore
Jim Moore
Managing Editor-Digital Media
Digital Media Managing Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot, as well as a certificated remote pilot, who enjoys competition aerobatics and flying drones.
Topics: Training and Safety, Takeoffs and Landings

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