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over water rules -- help please


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Help please,


I am planning a flight over water at the end of next week -- route I envisage has an across water hop of 24 nm -- could someone please enlighten me as to the regulations -- do I need to notify anyone? what must I carry? etc, just can't seem to find it in my copy of the ops manual.


thanks Peter



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Hi Peter. The CASA VFR Guide is very helpful, highlighting the requirements of CAR’s, AIP’s etc allowing operation of an a/c over water if the distance to land is further than an engine-out glide to a suitable emergency landing on terra firma.


Just go to Section 2 Pages 144 to 146 to pre-plan the over water aspects of the flight.


Are you going to K.I.? Are you flying the Cobra Arrow? Looking forward to a trip report anyway wherever it is.


Safe Flying, Regards, Decca.



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Hi Peter,


Click on the link below and it'll take you to the current VFR flight guide. The information is on pages 151 to 153 (book pages) or pages 33 and 34 (PDF pages) of the 66 page document that this link should download.




Hope this helps...







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Guest pelorus32

G'day Peter,


95.55 refers:


© the aeroplane must not be flown above the sea at a horizontal distance


from land of more than:


(i) if all persons on the aeroplane are wearing life jackets and the


aeroplane is fitted with flotation equipment that is capable of


ensuring that the aeroplane will remain afloat if it is forced to land on


water — 20 kilometres; or


(ii) in any other case — the lesser of the distance that the aeroplane can


glide in the event of an engine failure and 20 kilometres;


In addition:


(a) the aeroplane may be flown 5 000 feet above mean sea level or higher:


(i) only if it is flying over an area of land, or water, the condition, and


location, of which is such that, during the flight, the aeroplane would


Civil Aviation Order 95.55 9


be unable to land with a reasonable expectation of avoiding injury to


persons on board the aeroplane; and


(ii) only if it is equipped with a radiocommunication system;


Note When flying at, or above, 5 000 feet, pilots are expected to make radio broadcasts as set


out in AIP.


Finally in some circumstances ERSA sets our recommended procedures, such as the recommended procedures for crossing Bass Strait.







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Hi Peter, also swat up on ditching procedures. No good having the equipment if you land inverted and possibly unconscious. I'm guessing but I would suspect that it will be as slow as possible and nose very high, ie, stall and drop with as little forward speed as possible, preferably tail first. Don't forget to lock your canopy open before ditching.



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As I understand it, in summary, you can't fly more then 20 kms off shore in a UL under 95.55. Tasmania from Vic is only legal because of the pathetically small rocky 'outcrops' that CASA determine to be 'land' on the way there that you can supposedly glide to on the way. As an example, it is my understanding that it is not legal for a UL to fly to King Island because of the distance involved being 55 miles.


Therefore at 24 miles over water I would suggest that the flight wouldn't be legal.


Does anyone have any more thoughts on this?



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Wow, what a curly set of rules this topic has thrown up.:;)2:


I had a look further and it looks like you have to apply to CASA for an exemption to fly more than 20km over water with the required 28 days notice......:;)1:


Before I approached CASA on this I'd be ringing the RA_Aus office and seeking some clarification on the rules. Maybe they're better at understanding political stuff.;)


Funny really that as a rec pilot in a factory built Jaba J160 24-xxxx rego'd plane I'm heavily restricted but in the same aircraft with VH-XXX rego and a PPL I can basically do what I like providing I report enroute and carry life jackets....;)


Wonder if the aircraft knows the difference????:confused:






7 Approval of flights not complying with flight conditions


7.1 A person who wants to fly an aeroplane to which this section applies, otherwise than in accordance with the flight conditions set out in paragraph 5.1 or 5.2, may apply to CASA for approval of the flight.


7.2 The application must:


(a) be in writing; and


(b) include details of the proposed flight; and


© be made at least 28 days before the proposed flight.


7.3 CASA may, by writing, approve the application.


7.4 The approval:


(a) must specify which of the flight conditions set out in paragraph 5.1 or 5.2 do not apply to the use, by the applicant, of the aeroplane in the proposed flight; and


(b) may specify conditions to be complied with in relation to the proposed flight.


7.5 If the proposed flight takes place in accordance with the approval (including any conditions specified in the approval in accordance with subparagraph 7.4 (b)), the use by the applicant of the aeroplane in the flight is not subject to the flight conditions specified in the approval in accordance with subparagraph 7.4 (a).



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Assuming the total distance is 24nm (12nm from Equidistant Point) you would be no further than about 21.5 km from land at any point. Which is still too long technically - are you measuring from two aerodromes/significant points, or the two closest points of the coastlines?



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Regarding Flyer's points of different rules for the same aircraft, I'd suggest that as with many of the current RA-Aus rules, they were developed before the current crop of high performance ultralights / light sport aircraft (CT's, Jabiru's, Texan's, Sportstar's etc.) were anticipated to be operating under the same rules as a Drifter or similar "classic" ultralight designs.


Having flown across to Tassie twice now - once in the Sportstar (via Flinders Island) and once in the CT4 (via King Island), I calculated our "glide" situation (in nil wind - no such thing over Bass Strait ny the way!) to be better in the Sportstar - 60KT/4-500FPM glide in the Sportstar compared to 80KT/1000+FPM "glide" in the CT4. In the event of an engine failure at 9500' we would have had nearly 20 minutes before ditching compared to less than 10 minutes in the CT4 - a lot more time to aviate, navigate and communicate in an emergency situation...something which you can't have too much of when things go wrong.


Interesting that the rules don't take individual aircraft capability/performance into account.



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are you measuring from two aerodromes/significant points, or the two closest points of the coastlines?

I would be measuring from shoreline to shoreline and argueing that a beach/shoreline is land.


I've looked at a crossing from tooradin to tassie and measuring shore to shore gets us leaving from wilsons prom (I think) to get the shortest possible distance between land points.


At the end of the day, and following on from Matt, the plane doesn't know its over water...;)







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Guest Flyer40
the plane doesn't know its over water...;)

But somehow the plane does know, how else can we explain the phenomenon of aero engines going into 'auto-rough' when flying over water? ;)



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wow, thanks everyone for the information, I am very grateful for the effort put in, as usual the forum throws up some very useful information -- I have been measuring shoreline to shoreline which I think is pretty reasonable given they are beaches with flat country immediatly behind.


Just been up this morning, playing with the engine at idle, 70 knots gave me 400fpm descent. Given good weather and no headwind 7,500 feet seems a reasonable altitude.


I can always go further north and make the crossing as short as I like, a decision I can make on the day, weather depending. I am just going through the exercise at the moment of route planning a variety of aternatives.


I think I just want an excuse to wear my inflatable life jacket!!!


Yes I have been going through ditching procedures, such as releasing the canopy just before splashdown -- bringing it in tail down at the point of stall etc


thankyou everyone again for the advice/help



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I had to go through ditching procedures every time we flew shark patrol along the Adelaide coastline. 500ft up and about the same off the beach didn't leave much time to be prepared. Always wore a life jacket, rear passenger(observer/phone person-to beach patrols etc) had to open and lock open the door, and was the first to get out (C172). Seat could then be pushed back for right-hand man to evacuate. Real glad we never had to do it real.



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At the risk of "telling you how to suck eggs", when putting together your flight plan don't forget the correct VFR cruising levels (hemispherical rule). That is, if Trk(M) is between 0 and 179 degrees plan for odd 1000s feet + 500 (1500, 3500, 5500, 7500, 9500). Conversely, if Trk(M) is between 180 and 359 degrees plan for even 1000s feet +500 (2500, 4500, 6500, 8500). And don't be afraid to choose the highest level when planning an overwater leg ... more available glide distance. Of course, presence of clouds and extent of cover can spoil the best laid plans, I know.


Enjoy the flight. We're all looking forward to your report and piccies.





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Peter, the link provided by Phil (Flyer) for the VFR guide is the one to go for - it’s a more recent copy than mine. It’s a free download - for the whole publication actually.


Salient points are wear life jacket 2,000’ & below, otherwise have it stowed in an accessible location (one each person). Personally I’d be wearing it at any altitude, so it’s already on, & don’t inflate it until you’re out of & above the aircraft!


Treat over water as if over a designated remote area - with respect and common sense. Carry an ELB, & survival kit. If you’re more than 30mins at cruise away from land or 100nm whichever is the shortest distance you’ll need a life raft, but that’s probably not one of your requirements. You also need a met report, pretty standard stuff, permission to go, regular radio transmissions etc. The important thing is to download those pages for your planning of the flight, & nothing is left to chance, & follow all the good advice of other posters.


Regards, Decca.



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Guest Flyer40

Peter, I agree with Decca about leaving the life jackets on for the whole trip. I do the Victor1 scenic semi-regularly which is a life-jacket-required trip that usually takes about an hour out of Camden. Despite more than half the trip being over land we always put the life jackets on before boarding the aircraft and leave them on the whole way because putting them on and off inside a small aircraft is a pain. And I'd hate to be trying to put them on in the midst of an emergency.


Another life jacket tip from someone who has been in the water in an aviation life jacket waiting for the rescue boat (during exercise), they are designed to keep your head above the water and that's it, you wont be comfortable. Fully inflated they will severely restrict your mobility and could prevent you from swimming or protecting your face from the elements.


If you do have to use it, and I hope you don't, wait until you're in the water before inflating it. If you're uninjured from the ditching and have remained relatively calm, and are intending to swim toward land that you can see, consider using the mouth piece (if it has one) to partially inflate the jacket. This may allow you to swim normally where the alternative would be flailing around trying to back stroke. It would also keep the auto inflation in reserve in case you become fatigued from swimming.


If you're flying with a partner, give some prior thought to being able to tie off to each other after you enter the water.





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So that I was comfortable keeping the jackets on I bought good quality ones as used by the Helicopter Resuce and Police Services - they sit flat in a valise over the shoulders and clip around the waist. And the inflation tags can be placed under a velcro flap out of the way of any potential cockpit snags.


Often wear the jacket on a 2 hour leg in the summer and it is not really a problem.


Even though not legally required, whenever flying to YSHR I always wear the jacket, as well as transitting YBTL or YBCS.


The engine always sound so much smoother when the jacket is on!



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