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Aviation Learning Center Document Propwatcher's Guide - P-8740-37
Author: FAA Date: unknown
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Every year people are seriously or fatally injured by floatplane propellers. These accidents can happen when inexperienced persons attempt to assist the pilot in docking the floatplane, or when the safety zones on the dock, float, or pier are inadequate to protect bystanders from rotating propellers.

As a pilot, you are the key person in preventing these accidents. Tips:

  • Approach the dock with as little speed as practical.
  • Stop the engine(s) prior to reaching the dock when possible.
  • Approach the dock at a 45 degree angle or less to allow a slower speed for docking, and provide a wing for dock attendants to catch rather than a turning propeller.
  • Tie the aft float strut to the dock first, as it is the farthest from the propeller. The bow cleat should not be used until there is no longer a possibility of propeller rotation.

Never ask an untrained person to hand prop your aircraft.

The airplane engine(s) should be shut down for loading or unloading passengers. Walkways should be identified by barriers or lines painted on docks, floats, and piers to direct passengers and bystanders away from the area near the propellers.

Briefing Points


  • Walk onlyin designated walkways.
  • Neverwalk under the wing, except to enter the cabin door.
  • Always stay clear of the engine(s) and propeller(s). The danger area is usually identified by red lines painted on the airplane float.
  • Step carefully from the dock or pier, to the airplane float or entry steps.


  • Step carefully onto the dock, float, or pier and walk only in designated walkways when provided.
  • When walkways are not provided, walk toward the wingtip until clear of the engine(s) and propeller(s) before changing your exit path.
  • Walk to the wingtip before changing your exit path.
  • Avoid the area of the engine and propeller of any aircraft whether the engine(s) is running or not.

Other Safety Considerations During Floatplane Operations

Seatbelts and shoulder belts should be fastened during takeoff and landing. When provided, life jackets should be worn during taxi, takeoff, and landing. When floatation cushions are used, each passenger should have one.

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